In our confusing modern world of overproofed bourbons and 10 percent ABV craft beers, there’s always some room on the bottom of the ladder for drinks that combine flavor and just a delicate wallop of alcohol. Thus, the recent introduction of Joia Spirit, an effort on the part of Minnesota-made Joia All Natural Soda (always a favorite of local bartenders) to cut out the middleman and present premixed Joia soda + alcohol cocktails of a reasonable proof.
On the whole, these sparkling, vodka-based canned cocktails are light on their feet, barely sweet (via evaporated cane juice*), and suffused with natural fruit and spice flavors. The Greyhound (6 percent ABV) is the lightest in terms of flavor profile and punch, and (for better or worse) it conveys its grapefruit content mostly through aroma as opposed to an aggressive citric bite. Its finish is a mellow whisper of chamomile, and while the box touts cardamom, it’s subtly present, and definitely not out of balance.
The Moscow Mule (7 percent ABV) leads with a ginger note, but it’s not aggressive (or even acrid, as mules can sometimes be). The body leans into a natural apricot note that is highly pleasant, and it takes to ice nicely.
The Cosmopolitan is the fruitiest of the bunch, with a mellow nip of cranberry astringency and a full pear body.
The light profile of Joia Spirit seems to suggest a natural habitat of a bucket of ice, poolside, but come colder weather, these could be a novel third choice beyond beer and wine for casual gatherings.
Joia Spirit is available for a suggested retail price of $15 for a 4-pack of 12-ounce cans.
*Correction: The original version of this story stated that Joia Spirit’s evaporated cane juice was filtered through bone char; it is not.