BY RICK RIOZZA
As this column is wont to do at the start of our summer season in the sun, we clear off the CV Weekly wine-bar for a bit and re-stock with a bucket of ice, a clean counter, some really hip posters, and, either a few packs of craft suds, or, cocktail accoutrement. Well, finally–we’re going to be buzzing about Buzzbox Premium Cocktails.
I don’t know how many times I’ve been treated to their refreshing cocktail-in-a-box beverages at oh so many food & wine events throughout our valley in the last few years; and, I’ve gone on to express to the guys and dolls hosting at their Buzzbox booth that I need to write about their products. No need to hold one’s breath on this one any longer–time to exhale!
I know–promises, promises. But I’ve got some fun stories with this Palm Desert business: Back around 6 years or so ago, when I was the wine steward for our beloved, but now departed, Pavilions Market in Rancho Mirage, a very nice gentlemen by the name of Bob Linehard came into the store with a big grin and a beverage product that blew my little mind: Individual premium cocktails in eco-friendly fruit juice boxes, easy to open, with an accompanying straw, and quick to chill! I looked right into the store surveillance camera and said PARTY!!
I immediately began making space for these Buzzboxes because I could see the future. Forget about getting the okay from corporate, I knew the company’s beverage buyers would be on these babies in seconds, in fact, I knew I’d be getting a promotion for bringing them on-board.
CUT TO THE PRESENT: Shake it Baby! “Perfection in every box! Real Juice, real ingredients, all natural handcrafted quality.” That’s the buzz–and that’s what’s happening. No question–it’s one of the best tasting pre-mixed ready-to-drink cocktails (in a box no less!) around.
Recently, at the Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week kick-off party held at the posh party room at the Spa Casino, the Buzzbox booth was in attendance, alive and kicking with their signature series of their greatest hits boxes which includes the Perfect Margarita, Extreme Coconut, Long Island, Cuban Mojito, the Classic Cosmo, Whiskey Lemonade, and the ubiquitous Bloody Mary. See it all in color at www.buzzbox.com
Another fun story: Last year, at the Palm Desert Food & Wine weekend festival, Buzzbox had their booth right outside of the pavilion where, just inside, many wine tasting booths were pouring. Right around 11am, it was already getting warm; I come into the fest and spy the Buzzbox booth, where they were providing samples of their premium cocktail boxes.
So I can’t resist grabbing the Bloody Mary: for those so inclined, it’s a time-honored Breakfast of Champions, and it sounded so refreshing–it was! Great mouthfeel, delicious blend of seasonings and chili peppers; the box sat on ice, so the drink was chilled, and with an attached straw, I was enjoying and savoring in seconds flat!
I then walk into the pavilion, where I meet the lovely Annie Arnold–whom we always write about as well as reviewing her wonderful organic wine portfolio. She sees me happy with my Bloody Mary in hand, bends her head a little and says, “A bit early to be drinking–isn’t it?” (I had no idea how funny she was!) Anyway–I look around at the myriad of wine booths present and confess, “You know, at eleven in the morning–what sounds good to you…a glass of red wine or a Bloody Mary?” Hey!–I’m a wine columnist and I’m still voting for the cocktail!
Okay–so let’s go visit Bob at the Buzzbox company again. He welcomed me with a nice grin and open arms to their current location: still in a business park in Palm Desert, but this time down the street, right across the parking lot from our neighborly Wine Vault of the Desert. (You know this place–I’ve only written about it for the last four years! It’s where I keep my wine cool & safe and where Buzzbox previously used the Wine Vault to housed their products; but now, they’ve got their own 25 thousand square foot facility to do their thing which includes formalizing the cocktails.
Walking through the navy-grade clean building, Bob showed me the tanks and structures that produce the cocktails. And yes–as we past a huge vat of vodka, he offered the fact that the premium vodka utilized in their cocktails is distilled six times. Indeed, they use top-shelf liquors, and when they are able they strive to use organic juices, but as mentioned earlier, in every case they utilize all natural juices and ingredients i.e., no preservatives or artificial flavors.
And talk about being “green,” their pre-mixed, premium cocktails are specially packaged in a recyclable, energy efficient design that can be easily stored unrefrigerated for up to 18 months, convenient for consumers and retailers. Further, the lightweight packaging makes transportation easy on the environment, meaning 40-50% less trucks can deliver the same amount of liquid compared to traditional bottles, according to the company.
Through these past years, I’ve also met and chatted with founder and CEO Rod Vandenbos, who is often present at event sampling booths. He’s often quoted, stating, “Everything that we’ve done is really the best of the best. We wanted to make a product that not only looked good and fit a need in the marketplace, but at the end of the day, you could sit back and say, ‘Wow, that’s really good. I think I’ll have another.’”
Chill, Shake and Enjoy–drink wisely and drive safely. Cheers!