We Tasted All the BuzzBallz Flavors to Find the Best

As it turns out, there's a right and wrong way to drink BuzzBallz.

<p>Sarah Maiden / Food & Wine</p>

Sarah Maiden / Food & Wine

Every time I see the BuzzBallz display at my local liquor store, stacked up like adorable little soup cans that want to party, I get anxious. I never buy them, but always wonder who does, and secretly wish those people would invite me over for drinks.

To the uninitiated, BuzzBallz are tennis-ball-shaped, ready-to-drink canned cocktails with zany names like Cran Blaster, Forbidden Apple, and Lotta Colada. They’re meant for those precious moments when getting a buzz matters more than, say, savoring the nuances of a painstakingly crafted Martini.

The brand was originally founded in 2009 by Merrilee Kick, a high school teacher in Plano, Texas, who conceived of the idea as part of a master’s thesis project. Kick saw the need for a portable canned alcoholic beverage that could be easily consumed at the beach or poolside. Earlier this year, Kick sold the brand to Sazerac Company (which also owns Fireball Cinnamon Whisky) in a deal estimated to be valued at over $1 billion.

I recently overcame my fear of BuzzBallz and brought home as many different flavors as possible to see if the buzz is worth it. My survey focused on BuzzBallz that have hard spirit bases like vodka or tequila (BuzzBallz that are made with malt liquor or fruit wine, like its line of “Chillers,” were omitted from this tasting). Here are eleven flavors, tasted and ranked from worst to first, along with some creative ideas on how to salvage some of the less-impressive offerings.

11. Passionfruit Martini

The best way I can describe the taste is like drinking a Capri-Sun chased with a shot of Coppertone, or licking a Yankee candle with a name like “Tropical Sunrise.” Though coming in at the bottom of our list, you might be able to salvage this BuzzBall by spiking it with some respectable tequila, a few glugs of orange juice, and a splash of grenadine to create a makeshift Tequila Sunrise.

10. Peachballz

Will the Fuzzy Navel ever make a comeback? Probably not. This BuzzBall evokes being stuck in a tourist trap on Waikiki Beach while drinking peach schnapps, which isn’t altogether terrible because, well, Hawaii. Peachballz is similar to the profile of a peach-flavored freeze pop mixed with neutral alcohol, but it would taste better mixed into a sangria with some Chardonnay and sliced fresh peaches.

9. Cran Blaster

This canned version of a Cape Codder tastes similar to a Vodka Cran served at a bowling alley bar circa 1986. With a squeeze of fresh lime (or lime cordial like Rose’s) and some triple sec you could feasibly transform this into a drinkable Cosmopolitan. For something simpler that maintains the ’80s vibes, combine it with orange juice over ice for a nice Madras.

8. Lotta Colada

The flavor here is unapologetically coconut-y, which on its own is not offensive. It would be better in a blender with the typical Piña Colada accouterments, or for something more adventurous, try adding it to a simmering Thai curry, which won’t give you any buzz but will probably taste delicious.

Related: The 12 Best Canned Cocktails

7. Chili Mango

The mango flavor here is not easily identifiable as mango, it tastes more like tropical fruit Skittles, but the cocktail has a nice kick of chili spice. It reminds me of those fun yard-long Mardi Gras drinks you stumble around with on Bourbon Street that you never remember drinking the next day. That might be a good thing. No ideas for improving this one, other than maybe adding soy sauce and using it as a skirt steak marinade.

6. Forbidden Apple

I’m not exactly sure what’s “forbidden” about this BuzzBall other than any real apple flavor. It is guaranteed to transport you back to a ‘90s bar that serves 10-ounce Appletinis. My advice: Crank up the Matchbox 20 and roll with it. You might end up making out with a stranger, but at least your kisses will taste like Jolly Ranchers. Add some dry Prosecco for instant sparkling apple cider and a foolproof hangover cure.

5. Watermelon Smash

This reminds me of the Woo Woo shots that ruled the ‘90s or the short-lived fruit-infused vodka Martini craze, in a good way. The watermelon flavor tastes more like candy than fresh fruit, but it’s undeniably crushable. To kick it up a notch, use it as a base for a punch bowl with some decent rum, tropical fruit juices, and a few lime wheels. Ladle, repeat.

4. Espresso Martini

A solid rendition that packs a caffeinated punch but still tastes more like a Black Russian than an Espresso Martini. The coffee flavor is heavily concentrated like a tightly packed doppio shot. I say keep the Martini glass in the cupboard and dump this over a coffee mug filled with vanilla Ben & Jerry’s for a boozy affogato.

Related: Which Hard Seltzers Are the Best?

3. Pineapple Jalapeño

This tequila-based BuzzBall comes dangerously close to tasting like a restaurant-quality cocktail, but unfortunately, the restaurant in question is an Applebee’s. The flavor has a slightly soapy quality like canned Dole pineapple juice, but with a nice balance of citrus and spice. I’d drink this by the pool straight out of the can, or mix it with a bottle of red wine, a liter of Sprite, and some leftover fruit for a nice sangria.

2. Hazelnut Latte

Creamy like Bailey’s but not as cloying, this vodka-based BuzzBall could, on its own, easily pass for a Sombrero (the dude abides). I wouldn’t drink this on the beach, but if you need a pick-me-up after a long day of pounding fruitier BuzzBallz, it might be just what the doctor ordered. Turn it into a boozy frozen Mochaccino with a healthy drizzle of chocolate sauce and a crown of Reddi-Wip.

1. Tequila ‘Rita

One of the OG BuzzBallz, Tequila ‘Rita answers the question, “What would life be like if everyone still used sour mix in their margaritas?” But as a ready-to-drink cocktail, it’s genuinely satisfying. For maximum enjoyment: Blast Jimmy Buffett’s Greatest Hits, pour the whole thing into a blender with a healthy shot of Cuervo Gold and Cointreau. There are worse ways to waste away in Margaritaville.

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