This month, we’re heading outdoors with the best drinks for the backyard, beach, and beyond. In Take It Outside, we’re exploring our favorite local spots and far-flung destinations that make summer the ultimate season for elevated drinking.
This summer, after a long stint of being stuck indoors and drinking homemade cocktails on our couches, drinks lovers are taking every chance they can to get out in the sun and imbibe on the go. Frozen drinks are, of course, a warm weather go-to, but when it comes to easily transportable concoctions, there’s an emerging category that makes cooling off on the move easier than ever. That category is boozy ice pops, and it’s about to take over the world as a freezer, cooler, and picnic-basket staple.
The category — though still growing — is already vast, with bases ranging from wine and beer, to rum, agave spirit, and vodka. And as fast as hard seltzer brands emerged, popular brands like Truly and Bud Light Seltzer are already releasing their own lines of hard seltzer ice pops. While citrus flavors generally impressed us most with their bright, refreshing tastes, many of the tropical offerings were sleeper hits, ready to be taken along on any adventure this season.
With flavors ranging from sweetly nostalgic to boozy and elevated, these are the best spiked ice pops to cool off with this summer.
With a fresh mango flavor, this ice pop from SLIQ Spirited Ice stood out to the tasting panel — especially those who shy away from the overly sweet slushies out there. It has an agave spirit base and, though the panel could hardly taste any notes of agave, it is as refreshing as our favorite frozen Margs.
This wine-based popsicle tastes like a movie theater slushy. Sweetness cuts the booze, though at 6 percent ABV, the alcohol is still slightly detectable. The texture is exactly what we look for in a freeze pop, with a balanced consistency and solid (if temporary) crunch factor. The aftertaste is a bit artificial, but for those looking to satisfy their childhood candy cravings, it’s a sound option.
Another new offering from Truly, this pop has a great balance of lemon and mango flavors, plus a crunchy texture right out of the freezer. When it sits out, it retains its flavor without becoming overly watery, so it will have you going back for more — even after it melts.
Though only 5 percent ABV, this was one of the booziest-tasting in the bunch. The strawberry and guava flavors come through, but they are slightly subdued by the strong agave flavor. For tequila lovers looking to dip their toes in the boozy ice pop scene, this is the place to start.
This tart-yet-sweet flavor reminded our tasters of limeade more than lemonade. A welcome bitter note and a strong citrus presence make for a crushable product worthy of any summertime picnic or party. And at 8 percent ABV, this offering packs more of a punch than many of its counterparts.
This sparkling wine-based popsicle comes in a paper, rather than plastic, casing. With none of the bubbles but all the refreshment of a sparkling wine, this lemon-scented product comes in at just 4.7 percent ABV, making it ideal for daytime snacking. Its texture is reminiscent of Italian ice, making it an ideal beach-day treat.
Fans of Truly Lemonade Hard Seltzer will rejoice when they taste this endlessly refreshing, citrusy pop. It tastes exactly like a frozen can of Truly Lemonade. The alcohol in this offering is barely detectable, but the result is not cloyingly sweet due to a fresh citrus flavor. And at 5 percent ABV, it makes a perfect addition to a boozy daytime picnic.
Fresh, spicy, and sessionable, this is a crowd favorite. Tastes of ginger cut most of the sweetness, making it clear that this is not your nephew’s summertime snack. It has an elevated flavor that pleases an adult palate, while still having enough sweetness to pair with poolside afternoons.
This frosty offering made with Natural Light’s Naturdays strawberry-lemonade-flavored light lager tastes almost exactly the same as a can of Naturdays beer — reminiscent of a pink lemonade from childhood birthday parties. The mouthfeel of this flavor is incredibly satisfying, as the ice pop remains slightly soft even when fully frozen. It was a hit among our panelists, who couldn’t help but go back for bites two and three.
Beautifully simple, this summery offering tastes like biting into a freshly sliced watermelon. The flavor is subtle without being boring, especially as the botanicals of the gin shine through in the aftertaste, cutting the fruitiness and adding a layer of depth.
The flavor that shined through even as it melted, Cherry Limeade emerged the clear favorite of Bud Light Seltzer’s icicle offerings. It has an appealing crunch factor and a great balance between bright cherry and acidic lime, and its visual appeal — from the tie-dyed packaging to the popsicle’s eye-catching pink hue — impressed our panel as well. For those looking for a lighter icy snack, this may be the best bet, as it delivers 5 percent ABV at only 30 calories.