I Taste-Tested Six Coolers and It Was Mostly Awful

The bullets I take for you, Vancouver.

The bullets I take for you, Vancouver.

I should confess that I’m a wine snob…well, maybe not a snob but definitely a geek, and one who, when time comes for cold, crushable drinks, much prefers a bottle of Muscadet to a pack of Smirnoff Ice. Coolers are uncharted territory for me. In summertime, though, the cold cans come out across Vancouver and varying pre-mixed concoctions are swilled on porches, in backyards, and in really awful basement house parties. With that in mind, I thought it was time to put a few to the test. Accompanied by Paul Richardson—a co-worker from my night job at Liberty Wine Merchants—and his brother Thomas—who claims to have drunk one thousand Hey Y’alls—I picked out six coolers, all made in Canada. Each was graded on their can’s appearance, their smell, their taste, whether the alcohol was noticeable (as the point of coolers is to mask the taste of booze), the degree of refreshment provided, their “utility” (read: would you get drunk on this?), and the overall mood each cooler left us in. We graded on a seven-scale, because it’s a far superior method than a five or a ten scale. In the end there was one clear winner, but more importantly, three clear losers: Paul, Thomas, and me. We suffered for you, Vancouver, so that you might know which cooler to pick.

Nutrl—$12.79 per six-pack

This, very much, does what it says on the can. The vodka-soda with a touch of lemon smelled vaguely of lemon zest and tasted like almost nothing at all. It wouldn’t be nice warm or flat, but if you’re in the mood for a cold, fizzy, drink with a bit of booze and almost no calories, you could do worse. But, as Paul said, “just make yourself a vodka-soda.”

Scores (in order of David, Paul, and Thomas) Can: 6, 5, 6 Smell: 4, 5, 5 Taste: 4, 4, 6 Alcohol: 5, 4, 6 Refreshment: 4, 4, 4 Utility 6, 3, 5 Mood: basic, 3, 4, 4

Total Score: 97/147 and you can listen to how we got there below! (Explicit Language Warning)     

Queensborough Gin Twist—$3.39 per tall can

Central City’s gin cooler, flavoured with cucumber, lime, and mint, was our first disappointment of the night. It smelled of gin and the flavours declared on the—very busy—can. We were pretty excited, but it mostly tasted of sugar, a little bit like if you put a dirty sprig of mint into a can of sprite.


Can: 2, 2, 1 Smell: 5, 6, 6 Taste: 2, 2, 2 Alcohol: 4, 4, 3 Refreshment: 2, 1, 3 Utility: 1, 2, 2 Mood: disappointed, 2, 1, 2Total Score: 55/147 hear our disappointment below (Explicit Language Warning) 

Hey Y’all—$10.79 per six-pack 

I’m not from B.C. so this was my first taste of what turned out to be a shockingly charming drink. The whole image is kinda loveably trashy, and the drink tastes of a very lightly sweetened iced-tea with just a touch of vodka. I was pleasantly surprised and my co-tasters, both B.C.ers, were proud as spiked punch.  


Can: 5, 5, 5 Smell: 6, 6, 7 Taste: 6, 7, 7 Alcohol: 7, 7, 7 Refreshment: 4, 5, 6 Utility: 7, 7, 7 Mood: pleasantly surprised, 7, 7, 7 Total Score: 132/147 listen to our renewed hope! (Explicit Language Warning) 

Hey Y’all Georgia Peach—$11.79 per six-pack

Where the classic Hey Y’all took me to the heights of delicious belief, its peach-flavoured variation brought my hopes and dreams all crashing down around me. Fake peach flavour, saccharine and plasticky, ran through the whole drink. If you’re into adding vodka to a peach Nestea, you go right ahead, otherwise, stick to the classic Hey Y’alls.


Can: 6, 5, 6 Smell: 2, 1, 3 Taste: 2, 2, 5 Alcohol: 2, 3, 5 Refreshment: 3, 1, 3 Utility: 2, 3, 3 Mood: utterly heartbroken 1, 2, 3 Total Score: 63/147 listen as our hopes are dashed by fake peach (Explicit Language Warning) 

Bacardi Breezer Tropical Orange Smoothie – $5.99 per 1L bottle

We did not have high hopes going into this drink, yet it still managed to let us down. The bottle and label looked cheap, the ingredients list had some unconscionable additions, including palm and coconut oils, and it almost glowed an otherworldly shade of orange. The taste was layers of awful, somehow oversweet, greasy, and boozy all at once. It was as though you melted a creamsicle and added rum and everclear. As Thomas said, “this tastes like how I imagine Snooki smells.”  


Can (bottle in this case): 1, 1, 1 Smell: 1, 1, 1 Taste: 1, 1, 1 Alcohol: 3, 2, 4 Refreshment: 1, 1, 1 Utility: 1, 1, 1 Mood: righteous indignation, 1, 1, 1 Total Score: 27/147 listen to us retch below! (Explicit Language Warning) 

Hires Root Beer and Vodka—$2.79 per tall can

Following the breezer was the easiest task of the night, but the Hires Root Beer Vodka somehow managed to drop the ball. First of all, that’s not a good idea for a mixed drink. More importantly, it wasn’t well executed, cloyingly sweet without any of the interesting nuttiness or spiciness of a good root beer. Though I myself don’t like root beer much, my co-tasters were both fans and heartily agreed that this was a let down.


Can: 3, 3, 3 Smell: 2, 2, 4 Taste: 2, 2, 4 Alcohol: 2, 2, 4 Refreshment: 1, 1, 2 Utility: 1, 1, 1 Mood: Sad, 1, 1, 2Total Score: 42/147 and you can hear just how sad it made us (Explicit Language Warning) For those of you keeping score, Hey Y’all classics won by a mile, followed by the Nutrl, Hey Y’all Peach, the Gin Twist, Hires Root Beer, and the Breezer came dead last. Please, never do what we did here, this was truly awful.  Listen to our conclusion. (Explicit Language Warning)