Drinking a cooler calls to mind bare feet on a dock someplace, but Yukoners are turning this idea on its head — they want it, regardless of the time of year, even during the dead of winter.
Yukon Brewing introduced its first cooler last week, spiked lemonade with haskap berries. Owner Bob Baxter said half its stock has been sold. He expects the rest to be polished off by Christmas.
“I think it’s really different from anything we’ve made before and, to me, it’s really different from anything on the market,” he said. “I will say coolers are not my cup of tea, no pun intended, but I don’t drink a lot of that.”
Baxter said his team made a concerted effort to not make it too sweet, noting that some coolers have a bad rap for being saccharine.
As a whole, the drink is balanced. It’s sweet at first — a little syrupy — but that’s tempered with a dry finish, a result, no doubt, of the vodka base. It’s effervescent from start to finish, punchy and tart.
The haskaps are local, coming from Circle D Ranch. They were juiced in-house via a MacGyvered set up. Employees filled dozens of buckets, Baxter said, and they looked like they did afterwards.
It took two years to pull off. It would have taken one month if not for using natural flavours, Baxter added. No cutting corners, the brewery wanted to stay true to form.
“There’s coolers up here but I think all of them have artificial flavourings and such in them, so we thought, you know, we don’t wanna do that. We want to do it our way. Keeping it local is important to us, but also keeping it natural and real and avoiding things that we can’t pronounce.
“I sort of think of it as an artist doing a painting. When’s it done? Well, it’s done when they say it’s done.”
Sales are looking up during what Baxter characterized as a soft launch, but if it’s not gone by New Years, he said the drink would be a bust. This window of time represents a test drive, then, and, if it goes well, Yukoners may very well slug it back while donning shorts.
“The whole goal is to have products out there full-time,” Baxter said.
Market pressures and keeping up with local competitors fed into the decision to make it, he added.
The company has been here before — many times. When Yukon Brewing first introduced its whisky, Baxter said it flew off shelves in a matter of hours.
The brewery churns out upwards of 18 different beers every year in order to see what sticks, he said.
“That seems to be what the market wants and we can ignore that at our peril.
“This is test marketing. It’s really hard to do market research in a place of 40,000 people, so as we’ve learned over time is bring the darn thing out and see what happens. That’s really where we’re at right now. I would say this is off to a great start. Is it the start of something great or great start to something that has no legs, I don’t know?”
All seasons fall under Yukon Brewing’s roof. It has a Russian Imperial stout for those wanting a drink that screams wintertime.
“You’ve got the ying and you’ve got the yang, right?” Baxter said.
Contact Julien Gignac at