- “Long drink” is a Finnish staple that’s poised to become the next big thing
- We chatted with the team behind Bevy about the origins of the alcoholic beverage and what makes it so appealing
- Read more booze news here
As someone who’s spent almost a decade using a job that involves me writing about alcohol to help justify my drinking habits, I do what I can to monitor the current zeitgeist and keep a finger on the pulse of what the Cool Kids are tossing back at any given time.
I can’t necessarily speak to the motivations of other people who do the same, but I’m far from the only person who covers these trends in articles that usually feature the words “Having A Moment” in the headline; a treatment that was given to the espresso martini after it experienced a revival this year and was impossible to avoid when hard seltzer took the world by storm in 2019.
I’ll be the first to admit that I thought hard seltzer was a fad that was going to fizzle out when the Summer of White Claw came to an end, but as you likely know all too well by now, that did not turn out to be the case. However, it does seem as if its reign as the king of adult beverages is on the verge of coming to an end, which begs the question: which worthy successor will take its place?
Well, my friends, I think I’ve found the answer: long drink.
As someone with a bar filled with fairly obscure and borderline unpronounceable liqueurs from around the globe, I like to think I’m pretty well-versed in the libations people in other countries rely on to get them where they need to go. However, long drink—which has been a staple in Finland since the 1950s—somehow managed to escape my attention until it popped up on my radar a few weeks ago courtesy of Bevy.
Bevy is a bit of a twist on the traditional long drink—which is most commonly a mixture of gin and grapefruit soda—from the creative minds of the always-reliable people at The Boston Beer Company. After having my eye opened to the magical concoction at a tasting, I got the chance to talk with Senior Director of Product Development Annette Fritsch about the history of long drink and the role it played in the creation of a new offering that has all the makings of becoming The Next Big Thing.
What Is Long Drink?
Take a trip with me, if you will, back to Finland in 1952. The country is gearing up to host the Summer Olympics in Helsinki, and in order to ensure the athletes and spectators about to descend upon the city remain in good spirits while there, the government tasks the state-run company that produces and sells all of its alcohol to dream up an easy-to-serve and easy-to-drink quaff it can distribute to the masses:
“They really wanted to have a drink that was easy to make at the crowded bars and restaurants, and so they came up with ‘lonkero,’ which is the Finnish word for long drink. It’s traditionally made with gin and citrus—usually grapefruit—and tonic.
From there, it continued to grow in popularity across Finland. It’s really popular; there’s actually a huge aisle of long drink beverages in Finland when you go to the market. The whole category has grown over time—for example, people have played around with different fruit characteristics—but It’s usually about 5 to 5.5% ABV.”
Long drink is a drink for all occasions in Finland (many bars have it available on tap), but despite its ubiquity there, it managed to remain a fairly hidden national treasure until recently. However, once it popped up on Boston Beer’s radar, the company knew they had a golden opportunity to open the eyes of a much bigger audience:
“We’re always looking around for any kind of innovation; something that the drinker hasn’t seen yet. There was sort of empty space that we knew we could probably fit something in. , but we didn’t know what it was, so we were keeping our eye out on what it could be.
Long drink really popped for us because it is so simple and easy to drink. We thought it would be a great way to bring a new twist to the American market. We were just really inspired by the beverage and also what it could bring to the drinkers here that’s new and unique.”
There are at least a couple of brands that produce premade long drink that contains actual gin, but as I alluded to above, Bevy deviates from tradition by deriving its alcohol from a malt base (meaning it’s technically brewed as opposed to distilled). However, it doesn’t stray far from its roots, as you’ll find all the essential elements in every single sip:
“We wanted to make sure we stayed inspired by the original beverage, so our citrus profile is very similar to the original where we pushed those different citrus components.
We wanted a subtle hint of that juniper you find in gin, so we used wild juniper berries in ours to bring about that component, which came together really well.”
The comparisons between long drink and hard seltzer are inevitable, and while they’re somewhat similar, I’d opt for the former ten times out of ten. While I strongly recommend tracking down a can to try for yourself, if you’re curious about what’s in store, I’d say Bevy’s citrus variety is sort of like an alcoholic Fresca or Squirt without the cloying sweetness you get in a soda; it’s bursting with flavor and also a bit too easy to drink (especially when you take its 5.8% ABV into consideration).
However, if you’re looking to branch out, you can also try the Berry flavor, which was a bit of a departure from the norm but also a natural evolution and one that throws a bit of variety into the mix while preserving the long drink essence:
“In the U.S. market, we tend to have a lot of berry profiles, and this is a new twist. Bevy’s not a hard seltzer, but it’s just as light and refreshing. It’s also kind of like a cocktail, and there are a lot of berry cocktails out there, so we wanted to get that light, easy-drinking experience of a hard seltzer while giving a nod to the cocktail world.”
Bevy is slowly but surely popping up in markets across the country and will likely be easier to track down once 2022 rolls around. If you want to be able to brag about hopping aboard the long drink hype train before it leaves the station, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you punch your ticket as soon as you get the chance.