The bottle:Palm Breeze sparkling alcohol “spritz” — $6.99 for a six-pack
The back story: Has Mike’s Hard Lemonade gone soft? In a sense, that’s the idea behind Palm Breeze, a new line of flavored malt beverages from the Mike’s brand. The Mike’s folks say they are targeting millennial women with these tropically inspired, mildly alcoholic (4.5%) sips, which come in two flavors: Ruby Red Citrus and Pineapple Mandarin Orange. “It’s a little more refreshing, a little more sparkling,” says Mike’s vice president Sanjiv Gajiwala of what distinguishes Palm Breeze from the tried-and-true Mike’s. Gajiwala adds that he sees women enjoying this whenever they’re “looking for an escape” — say, while spending an afternoon “at the beach or on the lakeside.” By contrast, the classic Mike’s is a drink more typically enjoyed by “a man in his mid 30s after mowing the lawn,” Gajiwala says.
Either way, the introduction of Palm Breeze shows that the Mike’s brand is hardly resting on its laurels. Since its introduction in 1999, the brand has seen its annual sales grow from 2 to 20 million cases, with 2014 being a record year. Indeed, industry analysts often credit Mike’s with essentially establishing the category of flavored malt beverages (and yes, the drinks begin with a malt base — just like beer — before they’re given a sugary boost). But in recent years, Mike’s has faced intense competition from newcomers, such as the Bud Light Lime-A-Rita line from Anheuser-Busch InBev SA and Redd’s Apple Ale from MillerCoors LLC.
Ultimately, the Mike’s team says it isn’t threatened by the competition — if anything, Gajiwala says Mike’s rivals “bring new consumers to the category.” But at the same time, the team clearly wants to expand its base beyond those suburban lawn-mowing guy types. “It’s really about a refreshing occasion with girlfriends,” says Gajiwala of the Palm Breeze line.
What we think about it: Admittedly, we’ve never been fans of the flavored malt beverage category, which is sometimes dubbed “alcopop” because of its soda-like taste. If we want a malt beverage, we’ll reach for a beer — say, a hearty pint of Guinness. (And if we want a soda, we’ll reach for a Moxie, but that’s another story.) That said, Palm Breeze accomplishes what it’s supposed to, delivering fruit flavor in alcoholic form. Of the two initial offerings in the product line, the Ruby Red is by far the better — the grapefruit comes through as much as the sweetness, so the sip hits a lot of the right thirst-quenching notes. As for the Pineapple Mandarin Orange, it’s sickly sweet — almost as if you took the juice left behind from a can of canned pineapple and then fermented it. We can’t help but wonder: Do millennial women crave this much sugar?
How to enjoy it: Sure, you can drink Palm Breeze straight out of the can. But the Mike’s team suggests enjoying it in cocktail-like fashion — pouring it over ice and adding a twist of lemon. At the very least, the addition of ice will cut down on the sweetness.
View more information: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/mikes-soft-lemonade-2015-04-03