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  1. #1
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    California Coolers

    While I won't defend the the proliferation of froo froo, fruity "malternatives" I did notice something at a social gathering this past Saturday, something called California Coolers.

    I picked up the bottle and examined it, figuring it was the latest de-flavored and "fruit" re-flavored beer. but surprisingly, it boasted it was made from real fruit wine. I didn't taste it, but at least its a step in the right direction.

    It would be nice to see all these malt RTD's give way to spirit based RTD's. It has long been a pet peeve of mine that those beverages don't contain the spirits for which they are named. It has always struck me as being very disingenuous, sort of like buying something in a clear bottle in the refrigerated section next to the soda, a brown liquid with the Lipton name prominently displayed, only to find out that the word tea is oddly missing from the label because its not actually made from tea leaves.

  2. #2
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    Re: California Coolers

    Oh, you kids.

    Back in the 70s and early 80s, there was this big craze for something called wine coolers and the product that stated it all was California Cooler. They had this great, partially true mythology about a recipe developed over the course of many, many beach parties, a refreshing combination of white wine, fruit juice, and other favors. California Cooler was the first, got huge fast, and spawned imitations, most notably Gallo's entry, Bartles and Jaymes (which is still around as a malternative but was originally a wine cooler).

    In I think it was 1984, Brown-Forman created a sensation by buying the independent California Cooler Company for $80 million, which is probably like three gazillion in today's dollars. The wine cooler craze immediately collapsed.

    One justifies the fact that there is no Jack Daniel's in Jack Daniel's Black Jack Hard Cola with the same logic as one explains why there is no actual Jack Daniel's in a Jack Daniel's tee shirt. I don't buy that either, since a tee shirt is not a beverage, but even many of the licensed food items don't contain whiskey as an ingredient. To the consumer, it says Jack Daniel's, it tastes good, and it gets me buzzed; end of discussion. So, yeah, it's very caveat emptor.

  3. #3
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    Re: California Coolers

    What a blast from the past. The thing I remember most about California coolers is the thing I should probably have tried to remember the least: the after taste of the orange flavored version. It reminded me specifically of drinking kerosene. I don't think I have every had anything since with that rotten of an after taste. You could easily become nauseated from the aftertaste long before the buzz from drinking it set in!

    Thomas

  4. #4
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    Re: California Coolers

    After thinking back about all the coolers that came out in the 1980's, another bottom of the barrel brand was the White Mountain cooler, which was actually malt based. We could drink these along with beer legally when we were 19 instead of having to be 21 for wine coolers. I was never big on coolers to begin with and it might have even been the White Mountain orange cooler that was bad tasting, I can't really remember. All I know is, the orange flavored cooler was never on the top of my taste chart!

    Thomas

  5. #5
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    Re: California Coolers

    How about the Aussie Version that was a flash in the pan "Matilda Bay" it came in a 4 pack bottle or a 2 liter box! Oh the days of high school!

    Tony
    "So long as the presence of death lurks with anyone who goes through the simple act of swallowing, I will make mine whiskey"

  6. #6
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    Re: California Coolers

    Sounds like the highschool "wines" we had in Europe in the 80s too,populair cos it was cheap but not really tasty.Some shops still have it and a few years ago i bought a bottle out of curiosity and nostalgia and i can`t understand we liked it so much in those days.Luckily your taste gets better when you grow up.
    Eric.
    Netherlands

  7. #7
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    Re: California Coolers

    Quote Originally Posted by ACDetroit View Post
    How about the Aussie Version that was a flash in the pan "Matilda Bay" it came in a 4 pack bottle or a 2 liter box! Oh the days of high school!

    Tony
    I guess I was walking around with blinders on. I remember the Bartles and Jaymes version. It was hard to miss their advertising campaign. I remember also, as someone else mentioned, that they had a tendency to bother my stomach after just a couple. They were back then, in the late 80's, made with, I think, apple wine. Sometime after that they must have switched to a "malt beverage".

  8. #8
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    Re: California Coolers

    If the wine cooler craze had one very redeeming quality back in the day, it was that you could get the girls to drink them.

    JOE

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: California Coolers

    Quote Originally Posted by smokinjoe View Post
    If the wine cooler craze had one very redeeming quality back in the day, it was that you could get the girls to drink them.

    JOE
    As I have read this thread, I have remembered California Cooler fondly. Maybe that's why.

  10. #10
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    Re: California Coolers

    Quote Originally Posted by ILLfarmboy View Post
    It would be nice to see all these malt RTD's give way to spirit based RTD's. It has long been a pet peeve of mine that those beverages don't contain the spirits for which they are named. It has always struck me as being very disingenuous, sort of like buying something in a clear bottle in the refrigerated section next to the soda, a brown liquid with the Lipton name prominently displayed, only to find out that the word tea is oddly missing from the label because its not actually made from tea leaves.
    no tea: Taken.

    "Advanced Tea Substitute" anyone?

    I think a lot of the blame for the not-quite-beers with spirit names can be laid upon our goofy alcohol regulations. IIRC, if it contains spirits, the retailer needs to be licensed to sell spirits, even if the overall ABV is less than what one would find in a glass of wine. The "malternatives" don't fall under this restriction.
    Oh no! You have walked into the slavering fangs of a lurking grue!

 

 

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