Women-owned, cocktail-inspired coolers in a can

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itz spritz bravazzi cocktail inspired coolers

Bravazzi Italian Hard Sodas and Itz Spritz Alcoholic Spritzers are the perfect solutions for summer’s many occasions, including weekend picnics, yard work, and bartender-less nights.

Co-founders Sarah Ross and Anne Ellis — both veterans of the industry, including at Miller Coors and Campari — along with third partner, Bob Walkenhorst, created the two product lines to fill a need they saw in the market.

These cocktail-inspired coolers were fueled largely by Sarah’s passions — “all things Italian” and spritzers — especially elderflower.

Itz Spritz Alcoholic Spritzers

“For Itz Spritz, it really started with my obsession with elderflower, as Anne knows, back when we worked in Innovation together,” said Sarah. “And my team just knew I was obsessed with elderflower, and in particular St. Germain. And this was 2010, and that flavor was just too ‘out there’ quite honestly [for Millers Coors].”

While that sparked the idea 10 years ago, Sarah was inspired by the trend she saw returning to cocktail bars across the country: The Spritzer. While not a terribly complicated cocktail, it does involve multiple ingredients, not all of which may be at the ready in people’s homes.

The Elderflower Citrus — award-winning and Itz Spritz’ top seller — is essentially intended to be a St. Germain spritzer in a can. Also in their line is Cucumber Lime Twist, which is reminiscent of a Cucumber Gin Spritz, and Golden Pear, which mimics a Pear-sseco Spritz.

“We tried to take these interesting spritz cocktails, give them a little bit of a twist, and then make them ready-to-drink in a can,” Sarah said.

Itz Spritz is sold in 12 oz slim cans, available in multi-packs or by flavor.

“People want a beverage to accommodate their busy lives,” Anne said. “And cans can go anywhere. There’s a beautiful and sophisticated can at home when you’re hosting a party, or on a boat, or at a friend’s barbecue. There are so many ways to use, and that versatility is something we’ve seen people gravitate toward.”

Bravazzi Hard Italian Sodas

Sarah admits she is “obsessed” with ALL things Italian, and citrusy, refreshing sodas — including the classic San Pellegrino line — is at the top of that list.

Bravazzi is wholly inspired by San Pellegrino, borrowing their top-selling Mediterranean citrus flavors: Blood Orange, Grapefruit, Clementina, and Limoncello.

Only Bravazzi’s version is ready-made for Happy Hour.

The cocktail-inspired coolers are sold in traditional 12 oz candy-striped cans, perfect for stashing in your picnic basket, and frankly, I love them alongside my favorite nighttime snack of air-popped popcorn.

Brewing Process

Both Itz Spritz and Bravazzi are brewed using cane sugar — no malt or grain bill — making these a wonderful gluten-free option. Using this was important to Sarah, who has a lot of experience with a malt base (Does anyone else remember the “alco-pop” phase of the early 2000s? How ’bout your favorite Zima, Smirnoff Ice, Mike’s? Yeah – malt beverages) and feels there are some inherent issues.

“Yes, it’s cheap,” Sarah said. “But you can always still taste the malt. So then you have to add sugar and high-fructose corn syrup to cover up the malt — and then you get to build the flavor from there — and I just didn’t want to do that. I wanted a really clean base.”

Instead, they start with a liquid cane sugar and use a cuvee wine yeast and water — and brew it like a beer. This yields a really clean, slightly wine-flavored really really clean alcohol base.

From there, they add natural flavors, a small amount of cane sugar, and sparkling water. For Bravazzi, they also use natural fruit and vegetable juices from concentrate.

Because you can’t taste the alcohol in these cocktail-inspired coolers, Sarah and Anne felt it was important to have a reference point for enjoyment. Both lines clock in at just 4.2% ABV — the same as most light beers on the market.

“These drink like a light beer, so regulate yourself like you would a light beer,” Sarah said.

That said, both lines can double as a mixer, too — you can find recipe ideas on the Bravazzi and Itz Spritz websites.

Where to find

Ask your local retailer to carry Itz Spritz and Bravazzi. Right now both are available at limited local locations — use the Finder at the bottom of their sites to find these products near you.

Watch Sara’s full interview with Sarah Ross and Anne Ellis

Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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