Cascella concocts booze with benefits

So what's the story?
It all started with a bunch of crazy kids in Europe who decided to play bartender in search of a cool buzz.

So what’s the story?

It all started with a bunch of crazy kids in Europe who decided to play bartender in search of a cool buzz. The alcopop trend gave birth to Oxtails, a drink that not only contains 5.9% alcohol, but is also laced with the so-called beneficial natural herbs guarana and ginseng.

‘In Europe, kids were mixing Red Bull energy drinks with alcohol,’ explains John Cascella, president of Mississauga, Ont.-based Cascella Brands International, which represents Oxtails in Canada. ‘This gave the developer, Dr. Gerhard Winkler, the idea to create a cooler with energizing properties.’ (Mind you, some consumers have had negative reactions to Austrian-based Red Bull when mixed with alcohol, not to mention the fact that the energy drink has yet to be admitted into Canada because of its own health-related concerns.)

Cascella claims Oxtails, which was developed by InDrinks Austria, does not contain artificial caffeine, which is dangerous when mixed with alcohol and illegal to sell in Canada. However, according to, a site that educates consumers about the pros and cons of supplements, guarana seeds contain about twice the caffeine found in coffee beans. And as with any caffeine-containing substance, too much can lead to nervousness, tension and headaches.

But, fear not, there’s always the ginseng to counteract any anxiety-ridden after-effect. Ginseng is said to help central nervous system functioning, prevent stress ulcers and fatigue while enhancing sexual functions. All so important for a night on the town.

With regulatory approval deemed imminent, Cascella is set to launch the product, along with a $500,000 media campaign in Ontario at the end of March. An Alberta rollout starts April 15. The advertising will promote the healthy nature of the drink, which comes in two flavours: orange and vodka and original blue (a rum cocktail).

A cocktail a day keeps the doctor away?

The drink has health benefits, maintains Teresa Cascioli, president and CEO of Hamilton, Ont.-based Lakeport Beverage, the sales agent for Oxtails. And the company plans to promote the drink as a healthy alternative to your average alcoholic bevvie.

Her argument is that if you are going to drink, you might as well get some sort of health benefit. Drinking isn’t all that bad anyway, she says, as long as you drink in moderation. ‘We are promoting the health and wellness and what makes Oxtails unique is that it makes your spirits feel alive,’ Cascella says. ‘There are no bad effects to the products, no studies have shown that anyway.’

Now, in college I did some extensive testing of alcohol and caffeine, albeit not always together, and although my spirits would be soaring after three glasses, the next morning I felt anything but healthy.

Is there actually a market for revitalizing booze?

Cascella says that the target is the younger generation, specifically 19- to 28-year-olds (who, of course, are known for their responsible drinking habits) but the drink is also targeted at anyone who likes coolers. This could even include a fortysomething who likes to have a cool one on the golf course.

The makers claim the product is unique because it is in a 35ml can. This makes it quick chilling and easier to transport.

T-shirts have been printed up and college kids are standing by to begin free giveaways and promotions in bars and clubs. Cascella is already talking to DJs and radio personalities about promoting the drink over the airwaves.

When asked if the product is aimed at the youthful rave community, Cascella said it is not. ‘It’s a hip hop drink,’ she explains. ‘[The ravers] are not the target we are trying to reach, but everyone in the alcohol business hits a bit of that market.’ Ok, but won’t the rockers feel left out?