Disclaimer: Samples of Joe’s Half & Half were provided to us by Red Jacket Orchards for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow Bourbon & Banter to review their product with no strings attached. Thank you.
We often get pitched by companies wanting us to review their bourbon or bourbon related products. It’s the type of requests that we expect to get as a bourbon blog. When we received a pitch from Red Jacket Orchards several weeks ago for a new juice product we found ourselves reading their email multiple times to make sure they hadn’t contacted us by mistake, not realizing that we’re a booze blog.
Here’s what was in that original email:
In the 1960’s , a guy who just so happened to be a pro-golfer walks into a bar, and orders a half lemonade-half iced tea mixture. Today this blend is considered an American classic. Many have tried to reinvent it, but none have succeeded in revolutionizing the Half and Half like Red Jacket Orchards.
Fusing their delicious NY Style Lemonade (which is unlike any lemonade you’ve ever tasted since it’s a mix of their apples and lemons) with the nourishing Guayusa Tea, Joe’s Half ‘n’ Half was created. Guayusa Tea comes from a leaf hand-picked by the Kichwa community in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest. Not only does it taste great, but it offers a number of health benefits – the best being natural caffeine. Every bottle contains more than twice the antioxidant levels found in green tea, and has no added sugar or concentrate. The final product is delicious, healthy juice that creates clean energy within.
We emailed the kind folks at Red Jacket Orchards and informed them that we were a bourbon blog and should they still be inclined to offer us some samples we’d be happy to try them out but any review from Bourbon & Banter would involve mixing bourbon or whiskey with their juice. Lucky for us they didn’t have a problem with our terms and a week later a box filled with bottles of juice and dry ice arrived on our doorstep.
Once we were able to get the extremely well-sealed (read as hard to open) box–and foam cooler with dry ice–open, we didn’t waste any time and cracked open a few bottles to give them a try.
Straight from the bottle the juice is fantastic. Upon our first sip we quickly noticed subtle tannic notes from the Guayusa Tea mixed coupled with a burst of sweet fresh apple. The initial sweetness was immediately followed by the zing of tart lemons that rounding out the juice nicely. We were expecting something super sweet and were pleasantly surprised by a solid balance of tart and sweet. Perfectly refreshing for a hot day and addicting when drinking over ice.
We were off to a good start with the juice but would it stand up to being put into a cocktail made with whiskey?
Since we normally drink our bourbon neat we kept things simple for our test cocktail by riffing off of one of our favorite Wild Turkey cocktails – The LiberTea.
Fill an Old Fashioned glass with:
- 3 oz of Wild Turkey Rye
- 1 oz of Wild Turkey American Honey
- Add plenty of ice
- Fill remainder of glass with Joe’s Half & Half juice & stir well
- Add bitters to taste (we recommend these whiskey-barrel aged bitters)
The result is a refreshing cocktail that’s got a great mix of flavors while still allowing the whiskey to be the star. We have to warn you though that it’s so easy to drink you need to pace yourself or you’ll be having to get up every 3 minutes to make a new drink. If you like it you may want to look into making a large batch to cut down on prep time for additional pours.
While there are plenty of other juices on the market, Joe’s Half & Half is a great balance of tastes that can be easily mixed with bourbon for a refreshing cocktail. (We even had a glass with just the juice and whiskey and it was tasty as well.) If you wind up liking the juice like we did, it might just make a great addition to your next summer BBQ or tailgate.
Joe’s Half & Half will be available with FreshDirect today and entering retailers including Whole Foods, Krogers, The Food Emporium, Dean and Deluca, Wegmans, and various NYC Greenmarkets. To find a store near you check out their website for more information. Retail pricing will be $2.49-$4.49 in 12 oz and 32 oz bottles.