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Cocktail purveyors consider the can



A selection of canned cocktails available in Tulsa

Greg Bollinger

After decades of ignoring the container of choice for brewers, other sectors of the booze world are finally waking up to the sensibility of using cans. TTV contributor Andrew Saliga talked to sommeliers about canned wines for our July 3 issue, but wineries aren’t the only ones expanding their product lines.

One of the hottest brands in Oklahoma is Pampelonne, a line of sparkling wine cocktails made with French rosé that comes in slender, 250-ml cans.

“Pamelonne adds natural ingredients to French wine to make perfectly balanced wine cocktails,” said Clayton Bahr, a sales representative for Artisan Fine Wine & Spirits in Tulsa, the company that represents Pampelonne. “The idea is to create a blend that emulates classic cocktails.”

“Emulate” is key here, because Pampelonne doesn’t use spirits in their blend; but by adding natural elderflower, juniper, and Meyer lemon flavors, they create a cocktail that tastes like a French 75. The process is the same for the Negroni Sbagliato—which relies on Italian bitters and blood orange—and the Watermelon Americano, which uses Nova watermelon and Thai basil. The blend of flavors does the work of “tricking” the drinker into tasting a classic cocktail, with a twist.

What is most surprising about the Pampelonne line—Artisan has six of the seven available varieties—is that the cocktails are not overly sweet, and are in fact well balanced and delicious. At only seven grams of sugar and 120 calories, they are light, easy to drink, and what everyday drinkers would consider a “healthier” option, like a skinny margarita that actually tastes like a cocktail. The alcohol is only six percent by volume, so the impact is much like a session beer.

For a more traditional cocktail experience, Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock and Rye comes in a beautifully designed, custom-made 100-ml can. Ever love a label design so much you just want the booze inside to be delicious? In the case of Slow & Low, it is. The small can is perfect for a one-cocktail pour, because Rock and Rye contains rye whiskey from Philadelphia-based Cooper Spirits, so the alcohol content is 42 percent by volume—a real cocktail.

Cooper Spirits is best known as the company behind St. Germain elderflower liqueur, but the distillery has been making whiskey for more than a decade. They resurrected the historic Hochstadter name when they started producing whiskey. The Slow & Low is their first foray into canned cocktails, and it’s an excellent beginning. Made with rye, raw Pennsylvania honey, navel oranges, Angostura bitters and rock candy, the Rock and Rye packs a smooth, sweet punch. It’s a variation on an Old Fashioned, but the drink has a great history.

Hochstadter’s was founded in 1884, and the company built their brand on the rock and rye cocktail, so named because bar customers had developed a habit of adding rock candy to rye to mimic an Old Fashioned. Hochstadter’s took a cultural trend and bottled it, and because advertising laws were more lenient then, the concoction soon worked its way into pharmacies as a cure for colds, bronchitis, and asthma. Numb any body part well enough, and it feels healed, it seems.

Cachaça (fermented sugarcane juice) is the most popular distilled sprit in Brazil, and Novo Fogo is making the product popular in the U.S., too. Already widely available on back bars around Tulsa, Novo Fogo has released a sparkling Caipirhina in a 200-ml can. As a twist, the company decided to carbonate this classic South American cocktail, making it the perfect summer sipper. It comes in at 11 percent alcohol, so it’s roughly equivalent to a glass of wine.

Finally, Jordan Salcito, sommelier at Momofuku and winemaker in her own right, created Ramona to “make wine coolers cool again.” Scott Large of Provisions Fine Beverage Purveyors in Tulsa, the company that represents Ramona, said the Sicilian ruby red grapefruit-flavored cooler has far exceeded their expectations in Tulsa.

“We’ve visited a bunch of accounts around the city to introduce them to Ramona only to discover the product already on their shelves or bars because their customers had been asking for it,” Large said.

Ramona is widely available—so widely, in fact, that it’s on the bar at places as diverse as Shuffles Board Game Café and Starlite Bar. Many good wine shops carry it as well. Pampelonne, too, is widely distributed throughout Tulsa, including Parkhill Liquor & Wine and Ranch Acres. Slow & Low is at Parkhill, Parkhill South, and Memorial Wine and Spirits. Cans range in price from about $3 per can for Pampelonne to $6 a can for Slow & Low.

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