What to Drink This Week: Woody’s Coffee Collection
Hey, here’s a fun test: When you had coffee for the very first time, which way did you drink it? Was it:
- Hot? Prepared traditionally in a tiny little Turkish coffee pot, or purchased from a cafe on the way to school or work? Grabbed hastily from a drive-through on a long trip, or poured down your throat by someone who thinks caffeine can sober you up?
- Or cold? Served sweetened and iced, or blended with milk, sugar and perhaps even chunks of brownie or whatever? Either with an Italian-esque name like Frappucino, or an infuriating one like Iced Capp?
Well congratulations! If you answered Hot, then whoops — you’re probably old. Sorry! I can actually remember a time when seeing a small child drinking an iced cappuccino was considered shocking, but those days are in the far, far distant past. This weekend, for example, I watched an entire girl’s soccer team pile out into a minivan with more varieties of mixed coffee drinks than I knew were available in the marketplace.
When I pause to reflect on why that happened, of course, I can’t actually think of a genuinely good reason why kids weren’t allowed to drink coffee when I was young. It certainly wasn’t to keep us away from unhealthy stimulants, not considering the chemical composition of nearly every children’s breakfast cereal.
So perhaps it was tradition, the reflexive half-hearted follow-through on preventing growth disorders brought on by slow-roasting coffee beans? Or maybe parents carving out just a little bit of space for themselves, perhaps brushing up on refusing their offspring alcohol in future years? Whatever the case, it sure ain’t happenin’ any more.
I say all this because when I came across this week’s alcoholic product, I had a hell of a time figuring out who the market was supposed to be:
This is the Woody’s Coffee Collection, a combination of four different java-flavored pre-mixed drinks, including:
- Espresso Martini,
- Macchiato Martini,
- Cappuccino Martini, and
- Amaretto Martini
So, a lot of martinis going on up in there, by which Woody’s really means, “We put vodka in it, and it isn’t carbonated — because ew, right? That would be weird.” It’s kind of a strange departure for Woody’s, who deals very healthily in a business of producing sweet, fruity, fizzy drinks that are practically custom-made to slot comfortably into sorority girls’ hands during patio season. The design is very up-scale, the caffeine-free message is prominent, and the martini cue clearly points consumers to pour these straight into a classy-looking glass.
All of which is confusing, if you’re a fuddy-duddy who didn’t start drinking coffee until he had to start working overnight inventory shifts in a Blockbuster video just to cover tuition; however, it makes perfect sense if you’re someone who’s never had coffee that, you know, was heated to warmer than 5 degrees Celsius.
In other words, Woody’s Coffee Collection is — big surprise — not made with me in mind at all.
At 5% ABV and with a serving size of just 275mL (or about 9 ounces, as compared to about 11.5 ounces for a beer), these are clearly dainty portions. The smaller volume means this could fit comfortably into a cocktail glass — or two martini glasses, depending on the size (since I freely acknowledge not everyone has liquor bowls like mine) — while the alcoholic strength is enough to be present, but in no way threaten the flavor.
Though, I am compelled to say, to threaten this flavor, you’d need enough booze to kick-start a lawnmower. These drinks are suh-weet, everybody. They are syrup sweet, and while I totally understand why that makes sense when Woody’s is trying to create a candy-martini kind of feel, it also means that just one of these is enough. Unless you’re really committed, or you have the sugar tolerance of a teenager, you’re going to need a breather.
In the glass, the Woody’s Coffee drinks all have the unmistakable color and texture of an iced coffee. They wisely avoided carbonation, and instead concentrated on trying to capture the flavor of chilled espresso, complete with dilution from ice. It’s a bit uncanny how closely it resembles what would come out of, say, a Starbucks — and important to note that there is zero alcohol present.
That’s not so much because 5% isn’t ample, but more because — just like actual iced coffee — there isn’t a lot of room for anything other than espresso and sugar on your tongue. You have to really enjoy your java sweetened, chilled and consumed over a long period of time, or else you’re going to have a hard time with this. Specifically, you’re going to be one of those young’uns who grew up on coffee exactly this way. Which is great, because it would appear that despite — or indeed, exactly because of — how much it confused me, Woody’s knows exactly who their customer is.
But for those of us who were actually alive when The Empire Strikes Back was in first-run, there’s an altogether different fun to be had with this drink. Precisely because of how big a flavor it carries, the Woody’s Coffee Collection make a fabulous base for any kind of “adult” version of blended drinks you’d like to try. So while the younger set are enjoying martinis, you’ve taken your 225 mL, added it to a crusher full of ice, topped it up with a little dark rum or supplemental vodka, and poured it into a re-usable Starbucks container.
Bam: Instant covert survival kit for the neighbor kid’s birthday party tomorrow afternoon. The coffee flavor is still dominant despite being mixed, it lends its beautiful coffee color to whatever you dream up, and its vodka base means it plays well with others.
Just, you know, don’t let the kids try any. It stunts their growth.