Kraft's very popular line of Crystal Light powdered drink mixes has recently seen the introduction of a new series of cocktail-themed varieties of their pitcher-sized drink mix packages. These "Mocktail" varieties were previously only available in Mojito, Margarita, and Appletini varieties, but for a limited time starting this April, the collection will be expanded to include the two new flavors pictured above: Peach Bellini and Pomtini. The flavors will be debuting on a new episode of NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice on March 25th (9:00 PM eastern time), in which contestants will compete to introduce the limited edition flavors to the market. In the meantime, however, I have the opportunity to offer some early thoughts on the two new flavors, as Kraft Foods has sent me a very thorough Mocktail-making sample kit, complete with everything needed to enjoy the upcoming spring season with a tasty supply of Crystal Light.
Kraft even included several of those most crucial cocktail umbrellas.
I have had a somewhat touchy history with peach flavoring in artificially sweetened drink mixes. I'm not sure what it is about peach flavoring in particular, but it has never seemed to mesh well with other artificial flavorings or sweeteners in these sorts of low-calorie drinks. Fortunately, Crystal Light's new Peach Bellini may be the drink to change all that, as I think that it is one of the first artificially flavored peach beverage that I have had that I have genuinely liked.
For those who were as unfamiliar with the term as I was before a quick internet search, a Bellini is a very popular Venician cocktail that consists of a mixture of sparkling wine and peach puree. Seeing that the Crystal Light version of this Italian favorite is an alcohol-free imitation of the drink, the wine taste isn't really there with any sort of significance. There are some other somewhat difficult to identify flavors mixed into the Bellini mocktail, but the only one that really stands out is the peach. Usually, this would worry me with artificial peach, but this peach flavoring is somehow less abrasive and chemical-esque than other peach imitations that I have had in the past. At first, I was tempted to say that this one tastes more like actual peach than others do, but I don't know that that's exactly right. It still tastes like the candy flavor that we have all come to accept as "peach," but it is lighter and less shockingly sweet than usual. In fact, it is actually quite pleasant and refreshing, although the drink does have a bit of a parching effect on the tongue (as is common of these sorts of powdered beverages) when consumed in larger quantities. The artificiality is definitely still noticeable in the taste, but it's not nearly as bothersome as in other drinks of the type, and the rather surprising mellowness of the peach makes the Peach Bellini variety a welcome addition to my refrigerator.
Peach Bellini Verdict: Recommended
I want to go ahead and preface the following discussion by saying that I think that the Pomtini flavor may officially be my favorite variety of Crystal Light. I have had a lot of exposure to Crystal Light over the past couple of years, and I have tried quite a few flavors, but I had never really considered any of them as "the best" until I tried the Pomtini. It tastes unusually natural for a drink of its type, almost on par with something like an Ocean Spray cranberry juice. There are really very few hints of artificiality. The artificial sweetener taste is effectively absent from this one, and the pomegranate flavoring is actually fairly convincing. I have to be honest, though; I'm not entirely sure what exactly the "tini" part of the taste is supposed to be, as I really only taste the pomegranate. There is a slightly dry, citrus bite in the aftertaste, but not enough of one to indicate anything other than the fact that citric acid is included in the list of ingredients. But this is not to imply in any way that the straightforwardness of the Pomtini is a negative quality. In fact, I actually tend to prefer more singular artificial flavors, as I think that drinks that try to combine too many of them often just end up tasting busy and convoluted.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Pomtini, though, is how light the flavoring is. The drink is still sweet, but not as sweet as many other kinds of Crystal Light, and the flavor is one of the most subtle artificial flavorings that I have ever had. Pomegranate flavoring has really exploded onto the market recently, and there have been a lot of companies that have abused the novelty of the new flavor by cramming it into just about everything that they could get their hands on. I have had some very poorly flavored pomegranate mockeries over the past couple of years, and I have to say that I was a little bit nervous about trying the Pomtini at first. But I was happy to discover that Kraft has taken care to produce a light and refreshing artificial pomegranate beverage.
As much as I like Crystal Light, the flavorings can often still be a little bit too strong for me. I typically gauge the staying power of a beverage by how often I feel like I would be in the mood to drink it, and Crystal Light often falls into the category of "sometimes drinks." But the Pomtini is the exception to this rule. I feel like I could drink this fairly regularly and never really tire of it, which I think is one of the most telling factors of a satisfying beverage.
Pomtini Verdict: Highly recommended
Overall, I really like Crystal Light's Mocktail selection. Although I was only sent the Peach Bellini and Pomtini varieties, I have already tried the Mojito and Margarita flavors and I like both of them, as well. I still have yet to try the Appletini variety, and I am waiting to do so before reviewing the core Mocktail offerings. However, in the meantime, be sure to pick up a container or two of both the Peach Bellini and Pomtini flavors. They will only be available while supplies last between April and June of this year, and they are definitely worth a look before the limited edition run is up.
Overall Verdict: Recommended
Samples provided courtesy of Kraft Foods, Inc.
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