Brunch and bevvies Fizz and flavour: drinks writer and his mom review boozy options to celebrate Mother’s Day

There’s no holiday more closely associated with brunch than Mother’s Day, and there’s no drink more closely associated with brunch (other than coffee, maybe) than a mimosa.

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There’s no holiday more closely associated with brunch than Mother’s Day, and there’s no drink more closely associated with brunch (other than coffee, maybe) than a mimosa.

And while a mimosa is a relatively simple drink to make — sparkling wine and orange juice, combined in whatever proportions Mom sees fit — maybe you don’t have time to be fiddling with cocktails, or the notion of serving up house-made cocktails in addition to Mother’s Day grub is just too overwhelming.

With that in mind, I figured I’d test drive a half dozen premade cocktails (or “refreshment beverages,” as they’re sometimes called) that would work best with brunch. But in order to really get a grasp on what would or wouldn’t work for Mother’s Day, I figured I’d recruit a guest taster whose opinion I value over anyone else’s — my mom.

<p>No time to set up a Mother’s Day mimosa bar? No worries. Ben Sigurdson and his mom, Gail Cabana-Coldwell, taste test some crack-open-and-pour premade options for your family enjoyment.</p>


No time to set up a Mother’s Day mimosa bar? No worries. Ben Sigurdson and his mom, Gail Cabana-Coldwell, taste test some crack-open-and-pour premade options for your family enjoyment.

Gail Cabana-Coldwell (that’s my mom, in case that wasn’t clear) is no novice when it comes to reviewing things for newspapers. In addition to being a current Free Press book reviewer (particularly on all things nautical and Royal Family-related), my mom has also written for both of Winnipeg’s daily papers on all matter of topics and, in her time, has reviewed albums, ballet, rock concerts and, perhaps most pertinently, was the anonymous restaurant reviewer dubbed the Phantom Gourmet for that other local daily rag back in the 1980s.

With that in mind, my mom and I sat down with six cans of pre-packaged fun — hard seltzers, spritzers, pre-mixed cocktails and the like — and took them for a test drive. Comments below liberally edited for clarity — as one would imagine, the comments got a bit less “structured,” shall we say, as this tasting went on.

Vizzy Mimosa Strawberry Orange Sparkling Hard Seltzer ($3.58/473ml cans, Liquor Marts and beer vendors)

This hard seltzer features acerola cherries and real orange juice — although you wouldn’t know it by looking at the stuff. It’s five per cent alcohol, and since it’s dubbed a mimosa, seemed a must-try for Mother’s Day.

Mom: My problem with Vizzy is… how can I explain this? They have a tinny taste; it’s probably the sweetener (Stevia). Whatever — after you’ve had one, who cares? If you’re talking Mother’s Day brunch, this would be very nice. Or, you know, if you’re sitting around at the lake or in your yard on a hot afternoon, with some ice… you’re good to go. Overall it’s good — less tinny, more strawberry-ish.

Ben: If you’re doing this for Mother’s Day brunch, the one thing that’s missing is the visual — it doesn’t look like a mimosa in the glass, because it’s just clear. Flavour-wise it’s… not bad?


Lulu Spritz ($2.95/355ml can, Liquor Marts and beer vendors)

This seven per cent alcohol drink is a “wine-based beverage” that features “Pinot Grigio, tonic water and bitter orange natural flavours,” all made in Montreal. It’s deep cranberry-orangeish in colour and clear.

Mom: It smells like old tires… I had a flash of old rubber. And it tastes a bit like cough medicine. It has a sharpness… but it does kind of grow on you after a while. This thing’s seven per cent alcohol — it’s going to set your mama on her keister. And who’s Lulu? Anyway, it’s interesting, but not my favourite. Would it be any different if you served it in a chilled glass over ice, and put an orange wedge on it — make it really look like something?

Ben: Probably. It’s trying to be a bit bitter, like an Aperol Spritz or a negroni… but it’s a bit artificial. It has two different kinds of grapes in it — Pinot Grigio and Airen — and it’s a good bet none of them are grown in Canada. And hey — maybe Mama needs to be set on her keister. Anyway, to me it tastes like boozy cranberry juice.


XOXO “Botanical” Peach Orange Blossom Wine Spritzer ($3.45/355ml cans, Liquor Marts — on sale for $2.95 until the end of May)

An “international blend of imported and domestic wine” — it doesn’t say what kind of wine — the can says XOXO has a “wonderful fusion of peach and fragrant orange blossom botanicals finished with the touch of spritz, because who doesn’t love bubbles?” Indeed. It’s six per cent alcohol.

Mom: It’s a little pink-ish in colour. It smells like fuzzy peach candy… but it’s sour, more sour than it smells… I expected something else. But it’s not bad. It reminds me of Asti spumante with a squirt of peach in it. Here’s something that would be nice on a hot day with a bunch of ice in a mug. For people that look at this and think, “Oh my god, that’s going to be so sweet,” this is not the case at all. And what’s the deal with “botanical” — does that mean it’s better for you?

Ben: That’s marketing; it sounds natural. I mean are there any peaches that land in here? Nope, just “natural flavour.” That fake peach smell reminds me of peach schnapps… bad memories of my younger years, but we don’t need to talk about that. You’re right, though — it’s not as sweet as you think it will be, and I like that it’s got a bit of tartness to it. You’re also right about the hot-day angle — I’m no mom, but I’d crack one of these after cutting the grass or something.


Absolut Grapefruit Paloma ($13.49/4x355ml cans — on sale for $12.49 until the end of May, Liquor Marts and beer vendors)

A paloma is typically a cocktail featuring tequila, lime juice and grapefruit soda. The Aboslut is the first of two paloma-type drinks we tried; it’s vodka-based and seven per cent alcohol.

Mom: This one’s pinkish like the can, like a lilac colour. It smells like grapefruit — but not much of anything else. Taste-wise it’s about what I would expect given the can — lots of grapefruit. It’s not dark or muddy or anything. I’ve never heard of a paloma…

Ben: Interestingly, the colour is a weird artificial-looking purple hue, but actually uses “purple sweet-potato extract” for colour. It’s fine… but why call it a paloma when there’s no tequila in it? A paloma is like the peppier cousin of the greyhound, which features gin or vodka and is served over ice. Why not call it a greyhound? If I was looking for a “classic” paloma and I bought the Absolut, I’d be disappointed. But if I liked greyhounds, hey, I’d be pleasantly surprised.


Founder’s Original Grapefruit Tequila Paloma ($14.99/4x355ml cans, Liquor Marts and beer vendors)

The can describes this seven per cent alcohol pre-mixed drink as a “bar-quality tequila cocktail” featuring “a tart, refreshing blend of Blanco tequila, aztec citrus bitters, real grapefruit and lime juice, agave nectar and crisp effervescent water.”

Mom: There’s a sour component to this one that’s not in the vodka-based one. Out of the two of the palomas I like this one better. I think, though, that people who have an aversion to tequila will look at the name and say, “I’m not touching that.” Having spent a couple of days at a curling event with four women (not sure how this is relevant but regardless, a classic Gail scenario — ed.), I know that if they saw the word “tequila,” they wouldn’t buy it. Having tried it, I would. I like this one… it doesn’t have too much of that mesquite taste.

Ben: Mom… I think you mean mezcal. Mesquite is for barbecue. Anyway, if you look at the ingredients, they’re mostly natural. And flavour-wise there’s no question this is tequila-based — you’d never mistake it for anything else. But it’s not overpowering — it works with the citrus. It’s quite tasty.

Mom: Of the two palomas, this is my favourite.

Ben: Same, by far.


Croft Pink & Tonic (around $18/4x250ml can, private wine stores — also available in individual cans at some stores)

A 5.5 per cent alcohol “wine beverage” featuring pink port and tonic water, this is a premade riff on the porto tonico cocktail that’s popular in Portugal.

Mom: This smells nice. It tastes sweeter, maybe because of the port, and you can taste the tonic as well. This one’s gentler on the palate than the Lulu. I’d serve it over ice in a really nice glass with a skewer (I forgot to ask what would be on said skewer — ed.).

Ben: This one’s got some sweetness, but it’s also bitter. It definitely reminds me of the Lulu, but less artificial, if that makes any sense. I’d probably serve it over ice if I were to have it again, which I think I would.



Final thoughts



Mom: These are all different, just like moms are all different. Some like something a little fizzy but easygoing. For moms who enjoy something with a bit more flavour or complexity to them, there are some good options here.

Ben: Maybe it depends on how complex your relationship with your kids is. I mean if your kids really love you, they’ll make you a mimosa, right?

Mom: I think if your kids really love you, they’ll just show up. Whatever they bring — even if it’s a six-pack of Bud… whatever.


Ben Sigurdson

Ben Sigurdson
Literary editor, drinks writer

Ben Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.

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