virtuemezzoFENNVILLE, Michigan — Virtue Cider has launched Mezzo Spritz, a classic Italian cocktail with an American twist. This low-ABV beverage is made with cider, sparkling water, and botanicals. The brand will stand separate from Virtue, as a standalone line of cider-based spritz beverages, beginning with Mezzo Spritz Blood Orange.

The idea for Mezzo Spritz comes from Gregory Hall, Virtue Cider founder and former Goose Island brewmaster, who devised and launched the infamous bourbon-barrel aged beer, Bourbon County Brand Stout. Hall continues to innovate on craft beverages with this low-ABV beverage inspired by the classical Italian cocktail, the Aperol spritz.

“We’re always drinking cider, and we were playing around with what to do with it,” Hall said. “We put some bitters in there, thought it was good, put some orange bitters in there, and that was really good, then we put some sparkling water in there, and that was just great. It became our go-to lunch-friendly drink.”

Good things come in threes. The classic spritz is made with three ingredients: prosecco, sparkling water, and an aperitif. Mezzo Spritz is made with three ingredients: cider, sparkling water, and botanicals. And there are three ways to enjoy Mezzo Spritz: drink it right out of the can, over ice, or mixed into a cocktail.

“It’s a sessionable drink for the cocktail crowd: appropriate for midday occasions as well as a lower-ABV choice for post-holiday resolutions,” Hall said.

Mezzo (pronounced “metz-oh”), is the Italian word for “half.” At 80 calories and 3.5% ABV, Mezzo Spritz is half the calories and half the ABV as the traditional spritz cocktail.

Product Details: Mezzo Spritz Blood Orange

Made with Virtue Cider, sparkling water, and botanicals including blood orange oil, sage, and spearmint.

  • Tasting Notes: hazy orange-rose appearance, bright fresh-squeezed blood orange with light floral aromas, juicy blood orange up-front, dry, soft middle, and a crisp, complex bitter orange peel, cocktail bitters-type finish
  • 3.5% ABV, 80 calories
  • Availability: 12 oz. six-pack cans

Mezzo’s launch comes on the heels of a positive year for cider, and for Virtue Cider as well. The segment is up 10% YTD for total US according to IRI. For Virtue’s part, the craft cider brand is up 325% YTD for total US, and is up 230% in its home market of Chicago. On the spirits side, Aperol is up 31% globally YTD, providing runway for Mezzo’s low-alcohol version of the popular spritz drink to pick up speed in 2019.

Mezzo Spritz Blood Orange soft launches now in select on- and off-premise locations in Chicago and New York. The full launch of Mezzo Spritz will be in March 2019 in Chicago and New York.

About Virtue Cider:
Virtue Cider in Fennville, Michigan, makes craft cider using traditional techniques: making cider on a farm with Michigan apples and aging the cider in barrels. Their ciders range from dry to sweet and show the complexity and nuance of the region’s apples. Its founder, Gregory Hall, was former brewmaster at Goose Island Brewing Company, and he brings his barrel-aging expertise to cider. Virtue Cider is open all year long where you can sample cider in the Tasting Room, take some home from the Bottle Shop, tour the cider houses, or walk around the working farm.

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