Fruity alcoholic beverages aren't exactly a new invention. There is ample evidence based on research that was published in Nutrients suggesting that animals of all kinds, including early primates and early hominids, have long consumed naturally fermented fruit, either by accident or on purpose, and that this set the stage for our evolutionary preference for and capacity to digest alcohol.
From sangria to bellini to mimosas, our propensity for consuming fruit-flavored alcoholic drinks is well-documented, and plenty of brands recognize the opportunity to capitalize on this adaptation. One such brand is Simply Spiked, which introduced its first line of lemonade flavors in 2022. Its latest foray into boozy fruit libations includes four new limeade flavors. Like its spiked lemonade varieties, each refreshing, fizzy beverage contains 5% real fruit juice, 5% ABV, and 170 calories per serving.
In the interest of continued research on the topic, I took the initiative to sample all eight Simply Spiked lemonade and limeade varieties. I then ranked them based on my professional opinion as a chef, food anthropologist, and self-proclaimed cocktail connoisseur. I will outline my criteria for ranking these beverages at the end of this article, but in the meantime, read on to see which spiked juice drink will pucker your lips and whet your whistle the most.
Some recommendations are based on first-hand impressions of promotional materials and products provided by the manufacturer/distributor/etc.
Read more: The Ultimate Vodka Brands, Ranked
8. Simply Spiked Signature Lemonade
Last but not least on my list of Simply Spiked citrus-flavored beverages was the Signature Lemonade. Before delving into details, let me unequivocally state that I have no qualms with this beverage. I would gladly drink it again and found it quite pleasant. Simply Lemonade is my go-to non-alcoholic iteration of this refreshing summer drink, so its ranking at the bottom does not reflect quality.
The characteristics that make Simply Lemonade so appealing are that it is not overly sweet, is not afraid to showcase the slightly tart and bitter flavors characteristic of freshly squeezed lemonade, and is not watered down. The Simply Spiked Signature Lemonade remains true to these characteristics in every way. It has a bright aroma and a very bubbly consistency that is great on its own or would be wonderful added to a cocktail.
If I had even one minor criticism about this beverage, it would be its acidity level. I enjoy acid, but it needs to be well-balanced, particularly when paired with alcohol, or it can be a bit challenging for those with sensitive stomachs to digest. Other than that, this was a highly drinkable beverage.
7. Simply Spiked Strawberry Lemonade
The Strawberry Lemonade was next to last on my ranking of Simply Spiked citrus-flavored drinks. Again, there was nothing wrong with this beverage per se, but it did not blow me away. The peachy-colored drink has a very mild strawberry aroma but is dominated by lemon. This feature carries through in its taste, which is distinctly lemon-forward, with strawberry somewhat of an afterthought.
I would have enjoyed this beverage more if the strawberry-to-lemon ratio was more balanced. What I did appreciate about this libation was it was not assertively sweet, and the strawberry tempered the acid of the lemonade somewhat, making it a bit gentler on the digestive system. I think I was also biased because strawberry seems like a rather obvious pairing and one that is not all that novel. It is kind of "been there, done that." Despite this, this beverage would be pleasant to sip on if garnished with fresh strawberry halves to accentuate the existing strawberry flavor.
6. Simply Spiked Passion Fruit Limeade
Next on my ranking of Simply Spiked citrus-flavored drinks is the Passion Fruit Limeade. This beverage scores high marks for creativity. Where it fell slightly short was in execution. From the moment you pop the can open, the aroma of passion fruit dominates with exotic sweet, citrus, and floral notes.
This aroma carries through in flavor. Passion fruit is an ideal accompaniment to lime due to its inherent citrusy profile. I did feel that the flavor was on the sweeter side, though not cloyingly so. This sweetness dominated any tart notes, lacking a hint of nuance.
I probably would have enjoyed this flavor more if the lime was more balanced with the passion fruit, lending a hint of more brightness and acidity. This could easily be remedied with some fresh lime juice or zest. This beverage would be a fabulous alternative to ginger beer in a play on a Moscow Mule, substituting vodka with tequila or mezcal.
5. Simply Spiked Watermelon Lemonade
The Simply Spiked Watermelon Lemonade is next on my list. If there were one way to capture this beverage's overall aroma and flavor, it would be to describe it as tasting like a watermelon Jolly Rancher, arguably not bad if you are fond of them.
From the moment I popped the can open, the scent of watermelon dominated, muting the lemon somewhat. Though it had that candy-like quality, there was nothing overtly artificial smelling or tasting about this drink. Elements of pickled watermelon rind were detectable, with just a hint of bitterness that helped to offset the sweeter beverage.
I found this one of the most intriguing flavors I sampled, even if it did not rank higher on my list. I would have preferred a bit more nuance in how the watermelon was blended with the lemonade, allowing a hint of more acidity to come through. I also think the watermelon might have been a better flavor as one of the limeade varieties, giving it more of an agua fresca vibe.
4. Simply Spiked Blueberry Lemonade
Just shy of breaking into the top three on my ranking of Simply Spiked citrus-flavored drinks was the Blueberry Lemonade. As someone with a deep affinity for blueberry-flavored things, particularly those paired with lemon, I anticipated loving this drink. While I thoroughly enjoyed it, it fell just shy of my expectations.
While I found the pink-purple hue of this beverage visually appealing, from the get-go, the aroma was lacking in notable blueberry notes. The lemon dominated, with a distinctive tart nose. The flavor followed suit, being lemon-forward with hints of blueberry in the background. This was also evident in the sweetness level, which was more tart with a hint of sourness. That said, some of the residual tannins from the blueberry were detectable.
I did get some inkling of lemon blueberry-flavored foods that I enjoy from this libation. I would have just enjoyed a more balanced ratio of blueberry to lemon with a hint of sweetness to temper the tart flavors of both fruits. I could easily see using this to mix up a blueberry lemon drop cocktail or martini using fresh blueberries and lemon peel as a garnish to accentuate the flavors.
3. Simply Spiked Signature Limeade
I admit I was baffled by the fact that the Simply Spiked Signature Limeade landed in third place on my ranking of these spirited drinks. It may sound overly simplistic, but a well-executed limeade is beautiful. One with just the right amount of alcohol in it is revelatory. This was just that.
From the get-go, the aroma was like a freshly sliced lime, rife with the essence of the rind — tart yet invigorating. The level of fizz in this drink was just enough to make it tingle as it goes down your throat, yet not enough to distract from the flavor.
The flavor was a master class of subtlety, carefully blending acidity with sweetness while infusing just the right amount of bitterness in the aftertaste. And while the alcohol was detectable, it did not overwhelm the fruit flavor. I admit I was smitten from the moment I sipped this drink. I suppose it was unfortunate that I tasted this drink first. It set a very high bar that was quite a challenge to follow.
2. Simply Spiked Cherry Limeade
Near the top of this ranking was the Simply Spiked Cherry Limeade. Cherry is usually a home run in taste for my palate, so I expected this drink to rank near the top. It did not disappoint, having visual, olfactory, and gustatory appeal.
To start, the beautiful rose-colored hue of this beverage screams: "Drink me." The aroma expertly melds cherry and lime notes with jammy and citrus elements symphonically meshing seamlessly. The flavor continues in this vein, with neither primary ingredient muting the other, each allowing the best parts of its co-star to shine.
Balance is what sets this drink apart from most of the rest. It is sweet but not cloying — tart but not acrid. The overall balance of slightly nutty, spicy cherry with the brightness of the lime is perfectly executed, and the fact that it didn't land in my top spot has nothing to do with the quality of this drink.
1. Simply Spiked Blackberry Limeade
I have a confession. While I like blackberries, they are not my favorite berry. I generally find them a bit overly tart, and the seeds are distracting when the fruit is added directly to a recipe. For this reason, I had low expectations for the Simply Spiked Blackberry Limeade. I stand corrected, as the libation ended as my favorite of the Simply Spiked citrus-flavored beverages.
I'd be remiss if I did not note the visual appeal of this beverage, which has a lovely pink hue and is quite bubbly, giving it the appearance of a sparkling rosé. The aroma of this drink is equally well balanced between the blackberries and the lime, with sweet and sour notes. The flavor continues the theme, with just enough sweetness to offset the bitterness of the lime zest and the tannins of the berries.
Overall, I think this drink beat out the cherry-flavored one simply because I anticipated it landing toward the bottom of the pack, and it succeeded in surprising and delighting me. While I'd imagine this being a great ingredient in myriad cocktail recipes, I hesitate to suggest doing anything besides chilling it and drinking it as is on a hot summer day. This is a winner on all fronts.
In completing my analysis and ranking of the Simply Spiked lemonade and limeade offerings, I chilled one of each flavor. I organized my tasting by what I perceived to be the least to most intense flavor combinations based on my knowledge as a chef, beginning with the Signature Lemonade and Limeade and working my way out from there.
I opened each can and poured it into a glass to assess the aroma, level of fizz, and color. From there, I tasted each, honing in on the degree to which the primary flavors could be detected and how well they blended. As a general rule, I try to keep my personal biases out of the way, though occasionally they inform my overall liking or dislike of a flavor if they over- or underperform based on my experience with said ingredients in other foods and beverages.
Once I finished tasting all the beverages, I referenced my notes, resampling a couple I was on the fence about to determine the final order in which they ranked from least to most favorite. I highly recommend recreating this taste test yourself. The experience of doing so will not disappoint.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.