Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade, as reviewed by Tuscany

Hello, my friends.  It is I, Tuscany.

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Yes!  Tuscany, the well-known region of Italy.  I speak to you directly now, the embodiment of all the beautiful culture, geography, and architecture spread out across 23,000 square kilometers and several thousand years of history!  Indeed, I am the anthropomorphic personification of all those things, reaching out to you through the internet.  Truly, it must be a great pleasure for you to meet me.

Ha ha ha!  I kid with you.  It is just my way of joking:  Of course it is a great pleasure for you to meet me.  Naturally!  I am the birthplace of the Renaissance!  Waypoint for pilgrims and center of trade in the Mediterranean for many ages!  And most importantly — did you not know that I, Tuscany, am the new Provence?  Indeed it is so!  There was a time when Provence went from an understandably-appreciated gem to an over-hyped, highly-romanticized, tourist-crushed cliché; but now, it is Tuscany’s turn! 

Do you doubt me?  Perhaps you are not a fan of the works of a certain American super-star by the name of… Diane Lane?

under_the_tuscan_sun

I trust I need say nothing more.  If this star of stage and screen and cosmetics commercials for older middle-aged women cannot convince you, then there is very little we have to say to each other.  After all, the capitol of Tuscany is Florence, a hub of culture, history and art for hundreds of years.  What do the French have to offer?  Marseille?

Ha ha ha ha, of course, I do not mean to be so cruel.  Of course, France features several beautiful places, including Paris, the city so nice that they surrendered it at least twice.  But is it Tuscany?  Does it bring life and love back to Diane Lane’s broken heart, in the form of a disembodied arm offering sunflowers?  Let us not kid ourselves.

But I have not summoned the incredible magical spirit to personify myself in the form of a blog post just to discuss the fine, exciting career of Diane Lane (though did you see her in Unfaithful?  Damnation!).  Rather, I have manifested myself specifically to address a most unsettling development, one presents the greatest threat to the reputation of this region since General Mills first brainstormed the concept of Tuscan (later changed to “Toucan” after a lengthy law suit) Sam.

Yes, I am referring to Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade, Flavored With Real Limoncello.smirnoff-tuscan-lemonade

Before I go on, permit me to offer a few words of background on the topic of Limoncello.

  • Yes, limoncello comes from Italy.
  • Yes, it is a liqueur that is made from lemons — and also sugar, 96% alcohol, water and that’s about it, so what we’re really dealing with here is moonshine that’s yellow like the daylight.  
  • Yes, it is sweet, because it is made from the lemon rind rather than the fruit, so the bitterness of the juice does not carry over.
  • NO, it is not made in Tuscany.  It is generally distilled in the South of Italy, so YOU’VE GOT ME why it has anything to do with me.
  • Avril Lavigne drinks it, and then is inspired to write “music.”  So much for Tuscan culture.

So, even while the allegedly fine people of Smirnoff are happy to smear my good name across their bottle, as well as some perverse, ghostly apparition of my most famous landmarks, they aren’t actually willing to do fifteen minutes’ worth of internet research.  Would it be so awful for them to pay attention to the fact that Tuscany is too far north for this kind of drinking?  That Tuscany is well-known and heavily-visited for its wine-growing and gastronomic culture, and that you will be regarded as a contemptible backpacking tourist if you order a cocktail anywhere within my borders?

And worse yet, I would perhaps not be nearly so insulted if the drink were actually good.

Among many other vendors, Smirnoff has decided that the drinking population is too mentally challenged to take a bottle of liquor and combine it with a dilution of some sort, thus producing a cocktail.  Never mind that even young children, penetrating their parents’ liquor cabinets from the age their hands can first turn a knob, very quickly grasp that no liquor can be enjoyed in volume without some measure to off-set violently spinning heads and rebelling stomachs — oh no, rather the population should fork over a premium for “prepared cocktails”, which are essentially vodka coolers in larger bottles.  Has drinking liquor really become so much of a challenge?

This is hardly originality that will knock me over with a feather.  Leonardo Da Vinci invented the concept of a tank during his lifetime, and I’m supposed to be impressed that Smirnoff came up with a Mike’s Hard Lemonade knock-off, poured it into a large container, and decided to brand it with my name because nobody knows where Amalfi is?  Do I need to send Diane Lane to speak with all of you?

The truly epic tragedy to all of this is, of course, that the drink is middling at best.  Vodka should taste like nothing at all, and even the finest limoncello is going to have a combination of flavors as delicate as a lemon dipped in window cleaner and then set on fire.  So either this should be blowing a drinker’s collective eyelids off of their heads, or else it should be not unlike every other lemon-hinted vodka beverage that’s out there — and somehow it manages to be neither.

No, indeed, instead it is rather like someone gathered a group of flavor scientists into a room — none of whom have actually ever had liquor before whatsoever in any capacity — and then provided them a written description of limoncello and vodka, paperclipped with a picture of Siena and a note saying, “Go for it guys, we believe in you.  P.S. Your research budget is five hundred dollars, and this note cost three hundred and fifty to write.”

What the drinker is left with, then, is a bottle of not-even-carbonated highly-sweetened yellow-ness.  It taste nothing like actual lemonade or limoncello, but rather like someone did their best with those flavors based on notes given from a committee, translated into German from Japanese and then to English, and then shot through with not nearly enough alcohol to make it worth the twenty dollars it costs.

And then slapped the word “Tuscan” on it, because apparently “Pathetically Failed” didn’t fit on the bottle.  Just about anyone with a can of Country Time and a bottle of Grey Goose (don’t get me started on the French again, though, honestly) could do better, have more fun, and deliver a more successful party than the sad soul who brought a bottle of Tuscan Lemonade.

Believe me!  I am the textual embodiment of the region!  And when I say this drink has absolutely nothing to do with Italy, and only seeks to cash in on a trend that until I recently could only do good for me, you need to listen very closely!  If you want Limoncello, buy it and get all blood-poisoned Avril Lavigne-style to your heart’s content — the Southern Italians will thank you for it.  If you want lemonade, brew it up and load it down with whatever you like — Campari, if you’re really interested in being Northern Italian, and you can stand liquor that doesn’t taste like candy.

But if you want authenticity, that’s how it actually is.  Wines are the mild beverage that everyone can enjoy from childhood, forming an appreciation that lasts a lifetime; liquors are the formidable, complicated drinks that test your mettle and force you to re-evaluate your palette with every sip.  Smirnoff’s Tuscan Lemonade is neither, instead choosing to be middling one-glass party fare to satisfy the guests you’re pretty sure will leave before the sun goes down.

Whatever the case, it has nothing to do with me — and definitely nothing to do with Diane Lane!

I bet Provence never had to put up with this shit.

Rating:  1 Diane Lane out of 5

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  • http://thespitefulchef.blogspot.com kristie

    Avril Lavigne makes me run faster, you know. Well, at least the track “Sk8r Boi” does.

    Premixed cocktails have always pissed me off, with their substandard flavors and requirement of added liquors just to make them effectively emotion-numbing. And they’re expensive for no reason. Hats off to you, Tuscany, for pointing it out. I am a confirmed wino.

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Almost as awful as those Smirnoff Mojito’s which came out last year…and which are, surprisingly, still on the market this summer. I guess people continue to try them for the first time…..

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

      If there is a market for Wild Vines, there will be a market for these — people who don’t actually like alcohol, but want to drink candy that makes them tipsy.

      Still wasn’t as bad as Cloud 9 though. Christ.

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  • http://foodhappens.blogspot.com lo

    Smirnoff does it again, eh?
    Girlie drinks that are TRULY insulting to those of us who are… well, … GIRLS!

    Thanks for confirming all those sneaking suspicions I was having 🙂

  • http://weareneverfull.com Jonny

    i hadn’t heard of this before now, and i’m wishing it had remained that way. it’s depressing. i feel like it should come with a free fanny-pack and a complimentary meal at Tuscany’s own Olive Garden

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

      It’s my sad duty, sometimes, to share the abject misery that I find in among the glittering, beautiful bottles at the liquor store. But at least you’ll never feel even the mildest temptation to waste money on it!

  • jala

    well guys and girls, i see all your chritism of smirnoff and this product and really couldnt dissagree more. i think your taking this way overboard.. if you guys would take the time to do your 15 minutes of research you would realize that these prducts are for the home consumer not for the “cocktail” snob. they are a product to make life a little easier when you have company and personally i think they are a great idea and can tell you the they are all doing very well with the average consumers and have actually expanded consumer tastes when out in a fine cockatail estblishment. thus improving the cocktail culure.. so why dont you guys just cool out and pick on all the other shit products out there like like grey goose and belevedere.. talk about a travisty.. you guys probably think grey goose is amazing..lol joke

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

      I had no idea that the Smirnoff marketing department was web savvy enough to do stuff like this.

  • jala

    the fact that i see your grey goose comment show me that this forum is frankly lame! grey goose looses every competition to smirnoff and ketel one. its pisswater so tuscan i take your comentary with a grain of salt… taste cant be taught you ahve it or ou dont.. and well if ya like goose.. you dont.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

      Also, I had no idea that the Smirnoff marketing department thinks that the geographical region of Tuscany can actually write cocktail reviews.

      I’m learning so much today!

      • http://mariam.elnaggar.googlepages.com/ marm

        I am reminded of Hugh MacLeod’s cube grenade:

        http://www.gapingvoid.com/talkedjpeg002.jpg

        Despite the rabid corporate message, part of me thinks that surely a marketing department would hire people who’d look at their own copy before hitting “submit”, though, right?

        • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

          Part of me wonders if there’s a software tool out there to dumb down marketing copy (more than usual); part of me thinks it might simply be a happy benefit to international outsourcing.

          But tell me that the phrase, “i think they are a great idea and can tell you the they are all doing very well with the average consumers and have actually expanded consumer tastes” couldn’t have come straight off a Powerpoint slide somewhere.

          • http://mariam.elnaggar.googlepages.com/ marm

            I suppose I don’t know what is natural conversation for “when out in a fine cockatail estblishment” as most of the boozing I’m exposed to is during science experiments or softball games. Point conceded!

  • http://www.thenoiseofthestreet.net Cayden

    Hey, look, it’s not as bad as what marketing departments do to “Asian” food and beverages!

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  • Holly

    Thanks for the smile. I was thinking about trying this but now I will try something else!

    I’ve been to Amalfi, I’ve seen lemons the size of footballs, and I’ve tasted the real thing. I’ve also tasted North American knock-off limoncello that claims to be straight from Italy (right!). Should have known better than to think this might be a good drink.

    Oh Tuscany… so far above such idiocy. 🙁

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  • Kat

    I was just looking for this stuff today, but luckily I couldn’t find it at any of my local stores. Thanks for the info and saving me 12.00!! LOL

  • Summer

    Why does everyone hate summer sooooooooo much….? This Candy like pre-mix cocktail when done right is stellar for partys of 20+ since a $12.00 bottle with 1 half bottle of Simply Lemonade and 1ltr – 2ltr bottles of seltzer or tonic your choice sets it off beautifully, let guest choose from a garnish of crushed red berries, or skewered blue berries, whole mint leaves and trust the 3-4 empty pitchers will themselves speak volumes as to whether or not this is imbibe-able delight. With the exception of 1 of 2 replys a thought; Get Over Yourselves… That’s what summer is… a little bit of cheap tawdry fun… relax and enjoy it will pass before we know it

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

      It’s less summer that I hate than the drink.

      Also, I would have to say that the purpose of a buy ‘n’ serve cocktail is to buy it, and then serve it. If I were going to make a lovely punch of the kind you describe, why not just buy the vodka myself and put it all together?

      Plus, if there’s one thing that Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade (with real Limoncello!) needs, it isn’t more dilution.

      • Summer

        I Thought the fundemental point of pre-mix is convenience, with the convenience it provides I can do other things like make the garnish, plus I thought this was the Choosy Beggars blog , how can you dispute $12.00 for 20+ people covering the spread with stuff most people have in their fridge or freezer?(Juice, Club Soda, Fruit)

        With the savings on the mix I can buy superb Limoncello or Top shelf vodka and not have my super thirsty friends drink it up like pre-mix. ;o)

        • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

          Oh good Lord.

          750 mL of Smirnoff Lemonade, at 15% ABV, for $17 Canadian.
          750 mL of vodka, any old brand, at 40% ABV, for $23 Canadian.

          Even with the price difference in there, you get twice the booze for your dollar (I did the math) if you just buy a bottle of decent vodka — which means you can serve more people any old drink you want, and it doesn’t even have to taste like fake lemons!

          But I appreciate your dedication to such an inferior product. I can only imagine your devotion to things that are actually good.

    • Summer

      I forgot it’s also very good with a little candied ginger in the bottom of the galss, and many more assortments of fresh and brightly colored fruit… my guests always love it.

    • Stephanie

      I have to ADD lemonade to a lemonade-flavoured cocktail? Sorry, I’ll stick with Pomtinis and still enjoy summer.

      • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

        You know what this lemonade-flavored pre-mixed cocktail needs? Some lemonade — that would really hit the spot.

  • Summer

    So Pompous, So narrow minded, you’re such a cliche’. Hate something that is intrinsically good for the sake of being too forward and too cool for the schlumpy masses to get. Well news flash as a 1st gen Calabrian I’ve been exposed to amazing eats, beautiful wines, the true pleasure of Limoncello ect … ect… But Bottom Line. I love a Kick ass party on the cheap, I like punch in a glass pitcher, and if that makes me a non-lover of the finer things… Then you and your sad nose up turned, stuffed black turtle neck blog win.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Summer, we also adore a good kick ass party on the cheap with punches in glass pitchers, plastic bowls full of party food and even an occasional cheese ball thrown in for good measure. I would never turn my nose up at something which is ‘intrinsically good’. The problem is that Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade is NOT intrinsically good, in our opinion. Please remember that we are entitled to our opinion as much as you are. You evidently feel passionately in favor of STL, we….don’t. In terms of being narrow minded or opposed to affordable beverages that can be mass consumed at a party, well, that’s really not our style. I mean, hell, we endorse Mike-a-ritas for god’s sake! We respect your right to purchase, mix and enjoy this product. I expect you to respect the fact that we don’t feel the same.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

      Selfless charity is “instrinsically good.” Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade is no selfless charity.

      (twirls moustache)

      As a first-generation Calabrian, shouldn’t you be more offended by the positioning of this product? It would be like a brewery from Ontario selling their product based on Rocky Mountain flavor.

      (picks tiny piece of lint off of his pretentious black turtleneck)

      I also like kick-ass parties on the cheap — I just think the “cheap” shouldn’t be at the cost of quality, particularly when a less expensive alternative is readily available.

      (swirls brandy in a gigantic, ostentatious snifter)

      But in the end, you’re right. Evil wins.

      Mwa ha ha ha ha!

  • Bill

    Get over yourself. This drink is awesome. 15% alcohol and tastes great. I prefer it straight on ice, but for a slower simmer add some club.

    Who cares if Limoncello is not from Tuscany, blah, blah, etc.

    Have a drink and settle down.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

      Glad you like it, Bill! I’m personally not a fan — it’s marginally stronger than a glass of wine but with a wussy flavor I hate.

      The reason I like to harp on the Tuscan / Limoncello thing is because it’s ludicrous marketing, and I hate ludicrous marketing even more than I hate Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade’s wussy flavor.

      One thing we can agree on: I love to have drinks and settle down. Boy howdy!

  • wendi

    I wanted to try the new tuscan lemonade this friday evening my guy friend who is far from cheap said it was too expensive…. grrrrrrr it isnt going to be his lucky night

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  • Chance

    I enjoy drinking and have gone from Martell cognac (drank for many years) to Patron Silver, which is the smoothest drink ever. My co worker informed me about the Tuscany Lemonade. I, like you, thought it would not be to my likeing as I am a seasoned drinker. I love it…It’s refreshing and a welcomed change.

    Greetings from NYC

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

      Welcome!

      OOoooo, Patron. I’m all slathery just thinking about that.

      If you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, may we propose that you check out our less expensive, tastier and more authentic home-brewed version?

      • Chance

        Sorry, but I don’t have the time …It’s pour and serve for me…thanks anyway

        • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

          I’ve had those days.

          “No time to mix even one ingredient with another! Drinking must start now!

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