Alcopop is a beverage with quite an unusual name. However, once you know the meaning, it makes a lot of sense. The word is derived from the combination of alcohol and pop, which easily describes the drink that offers an often carbonated, soda-like taste with an alcohol kick.
While you may not see the term alcopop used much in the alcohol industry, you will see such terms as Flavored Malt Beverage (FMB), Flavored Alcoholic Beverage (FAB), Ready to Drink (RTD), and Premium or Pre-Packaged Spirits (PPS).
Alcopops are usually have a sweeter flavor, are often found in smaller bottles that are reminiscent of a soda bottle or can, and contain from 4%-7% ABV.
In Canada and Europe you’ll find that alcopops are usually pre-mixed and contain such alcohol as rum or vodka. Examples of alcopops in these countries include the Bacardi Breezer and Smirnoff Ice.
In the U.S., and depending on the state selling the beverage, alcopops usually begin as un-hopped beers. A good amount of the alcohol (malt) is removed which leaves a liquid that contains mostly water. Alcohol, such as grain alcohol or vodka, is added, as well as coloring, flavoring, and sugar. Legally, these drinks are classified as beers. This mean that most stats can sell alcopops in stores that do not carry drinks that are spirit-based.
In addition to these so-called beers, stronger versions of pre-mixed spirits, often containing around 12.5% ABV, can be found in stores selling hard liquor.
Alcopops found their way into the U.S. alcohol market during the late 1980s. At that time, Bacardi introduced what would quickly grow to be a very popular drink—the Breezer. In the early 1990s, similar drinks also became available, such as Zima and Hooper’s Hooch, making alcopops an even more popular beverage.
A US federal wine tax increase caused the popularity of wine coolers to decrease, so it was no surprise that the emergence of what was being touted as a “malternative beverage” became so popular so quickly.
Soon other companies got in on the rising alcopop fad. In the 1990s Mike’s Hard Lemonade was released, as well as Smirnoff Ice, both of which are still quite popular today.
While alcopops have quite a following, there is a bit of controversy that surrounds them. Some critics have expressed their concern that a beverage with a sweet flavor that almost masks the taste of the alcohol could appeal to children. In fact, some advertising campaigns have come under fire for making the drinks seem too appealing for those not of drinking age. However, after some investigation is has been found that the alcopop makers do not target children with their ads, instead their target audience consists of those of legal drinking age, between the ages of 21 and 29.
For anyone who is over the legal drinking age, enjoys a drink or two, but prefer a sweeter, fruity taste, alcopops are the perfect choice.