Maybe you referred to them “freezer pops” or “ice pops.” Perhaps you knew them only by brand names like Fla-Vor-Ice or Otter Pops. (Growing up in Chicago, every tube-shaped freezer treat in our household was referred to as a “pop ice,” regardless of whether it was actually of the Pop-Ice variety.) Whatever you called them, you no doubt spent a good chunk of your childhood summers begging your parents for a plastic tube of frozen sugar-water. Was there any more blissful way of cooling off after running around with your friends on a hot day than rifling through the freezer to find your favorite flavor?
It turns out, there was — we just had to wait for adulthood to realize it. The only thing our favorite youthful treats were missing was alcohol.
In recent years, more and more brands have made the genius decision to make their own versions of boozy ice pops. And why wouldn’t they? If you’re a fan of frozen margaritas, you can certainly understand the appeal, and these amount to a more portable version, perfect for throwing in a cooler and bringing to the beach or a cookout. July is almost over, but we’ve still got a good month or two left of summer weather — plenty of time to partake in the trend.
With that in mind, we taste-tested and ranked as many boozy pops as we could get our hands on in order to determine which are the best. (To be clear, there’s really no such thing as a bad one; we’re definitely all-in on boozy ice pops in general and don’t see ourselves turning any of these down if offered one at a party in the near future.)
7. Ritas Freeze-A-Ritas
Calories: 50 (strawberry) or 55 (lime)
If you’ve ever had a canned Lime-A-Rita or a Straw-Ber-Rita, you’ve already got a pretty good idea of what these taste like. The booze-to-fruit-flavor ratio feels a little off, and the strawberry flavor in particular has a slight medicine-y taste to it. Still, we’d love to see them try these in some of the other Rita flavors, and mostly have to dock a few points for lack of variety. (Ice pops are a summer treat, but don’t tell us you wouldn’t at least be curious about a frozen Cran-Ber-Rita come Thanksgiving.)
6. SLIQ Spirited Ice
Calories: <100, varies depending on flavor
SLIQ was one of the original boozy ice pop brands to market, but unfortunately it’s since been smoked by the competition. The majority of its flavors — which come sorted by spirit type in its Vodka, Agave and Rum packs — are simply way too sweet. There’s a definite artificial-flavoring taste to flavors like Margarita and Pineapple Daiquiri, though Coconut & Lime Daiquiri is much more palatable. When it’s all said and done, though, if the choice is between these boozy ice pops and no boozy ice pops, we’d still happily consume any of them.
5. Fishers Island Lemonade Frozen Spirit Pops
This pop is based on the signature house cocktail at The Pequot Inn on New York’s Fishers Island in Long Island Sound, made with vodka, whiskey, lemon and honey. From a pure ABV standpoint, there are technically boozier pops than these on the list, but for some reason — perhaps the combination of vodka and whiskey — you taste the alcohol the most here. (The whiskey in particular comes through loud and clear.) That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course; if you’re not interested in tasting booze, just buy a regular popsicle. But it’s hard to imagine eating more than a couple of these before you’d need to either lean in and switch to a real drink or call it a night entirely.
4. Bud Light Seltzer Frozen Icicles
Perhaps we’ve got a little bit of a bias against Bud Light, but we were not expecting these to be anywhere near as enjoyable as they are. There’s a big nostalgia factor at play here; if you grew up slurping on Fla-Vor-Ice as a kid or were raised on popular ’90s flavors like blue raspberry (or just “blue”) and cherry limeade, these will immediately take you back to your youth — except, you know, with booze. Cherry limeade is the clear winner here, but we also have to give props to the “Summer Ice” flavor, which contains lemon, cherry and blueberry flavors as an homage to those classic red, white and blue firecracker popsicles you can find at any ice cream truck in America. At 5.0% ABV, the booze doesn’t come through very strongly, but when you’re dealing with flavors that are so tied to childhood memories, perhaps that’s for the best.
3. Slim Chillers
What Slim Chillers lack in easy-to-open packaging (you’ll definitely need a pair of scissors on hand), they more than make up with a huge variety of less-than-traditional ice pop flavors. The brand offers packs of assorted vodka, rum and wine cocktail pops, including everything from appletini and cosmopolitan to orangeberry mimosa and blackberry pomegranate sangria varieties. The vodka-based ones in particular don’t freeze especially well — ours were still mushy after two days in the freezer — but overall the flavors are nice, especially the raspberry lemonade and pear lemondrop.
2. Truly Hard Seltzer Lemonade Pops
Truly’s Lemonade Freeze Pops taste pretty much exactly like frozen versions of Truly’s Lemonade Hard Seltzer flavors. (And, given how quickly they melt, they pretty much are Truly Lemonade Hard Seltzer after a few bites.) The Strawberry Lemonade and Mango Lemonade flavors are well-balanced and not cloyingly sweet, though the latter has a bit of an artificial taste to it despite being made with natural flavors. Ultimately, there’s no beating the original Lemonade flavor, and at just 5.0% ABV and 80 calories per pop, you don’t have to worry when you’re tempted to suck down more than one.
1. Cutwater Frozen Cocktail Pops
Calories: <80, varies depending on flavor
Cutwater’s cocktail pops were the clear favorite, thanks especially to their excellent Lime Margarita flavor, which tastes exactly like a nice frozen margarita, just in pop form instead of in a glass. To be frank, it puts all the other brands’ margarita flavors to shame. But the secret weapon here is the Gin Melon flavor, which is light and refreshing and perfect for all your pool hangs, beach days or other outdoor summertime activities. And of course, we have to award bonus points for the low calorie count; the fact that these manage to pack as much flavor into fewer than 80 calories is pretty impressive.
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