We’re not entirely sure when it first happened, but the 1990s have become the quintessential decade for nostalgia. As we live in an age overrun by internet trolls, exploding technology, and horrifying news events around every turn, many argue this nostalgia is due to millennials longing for their childhood memories — a simpler, more innocent time filled with unironic AIM screen names, Nintendo 64, and Saved by the Bell. Well, rejoice, ‘90s kids, because another classic from the decade is set to make a comeback: that fizzy, citrusy, slightly boozy beverage known as Zima.
Anyone conscious during the 1990s knows about Zima — even if they weren’t old enough to drink it. The clear malt beverage was released by Coors in 1994 and quickly took the world by storm. With a 4.7% alcohol by volume, Zima was marketed as an alternative to beer, selling 1.3 million barrels right out of the gate. Launched in the thick of the New Age beverage craze, its appeal was all about what it was not. Not a beer; not a wine cooler; it was “zomething different.”
In its first year, Coors spent $38 million (roughly $63 million today) on marketing, persuading an estimated 70% of all American imbibers to try it. Unfortunately, many didn’t go back for seconds. As Coors would soon learn, most young men — their target demographic — found the taste off-putting. It was women who embraced the drink the most, giving it a “girly” quality that marketers considered to be death for their valued male customer base. In an effort to attract men, Coors released a new bourbon-flavored iteration called Zima Gold — an experiment that crashed and burned even faster than the first.
Between that and its uncomfortably weird television ads, Zima became the butt of the joke, referenced frequently by David Letterman on The Tonight Show. By 1996, sales had declined by two-thirds, and the fluted-glass bottles had all but completely disappeared from shelves by the time most of millennials hit legal drinking age. Yet, the company still tried its hardest to keep Zima afloat, releasing additional flavors like tangerine, pineapple, blackberry, and green apple, before officially stopping production in the US in 2008.
Despite all that, the big-wigs at MillerCoors still think Zima has promise. After all, there’s a chance it was just ahead of its time. The beverage was introduced years before similar products such as Smirnoff Ice and Mike’s Hard Lemonade gained cult following. Does that mean Zima is set for a successful revival? Only time will tell, but MillerCoors is ready to try. Two-and-a-half decades after its initial launch, the ‘90s sip is on the brink of a comeback. Though there’s been no release date announced, Beer Business Daily reveals that bottles have already been shipped to distributor warehouses, meaning Zima could hit shelves at any moment. When that does happen, however, it seems that MillerCoors is banking more on nostalgia than actual popularity. Zima will reportedly be available for a limited time only.
We’ll just have to wait to see whether or not the recipe has been retooled to address the brand’s original issues, but we’re not going to lie: Whenever those jewel-cut bottles hit stores again, we’re going to be the first in line — if only for the sake of sentimentality. Of course, we probably won’t drink the concoction straight unless there’s been some serious updates to the flavor, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of ways to enjoy the drink. Below are 9 libations to make using the ‘90s classic. Just swap in Zima for 7-Up, Sprite, or any other lemon-lime soda and get ready to taste “zomething different.”
9 COCKTAILS TO MAKE USING ZIMA
1. Chicken in a Blender: 1 1/2 ounces vodka, 1 1/2 ounces bourbon, 3/4 ounce silver tequila, 3/4 ounce grenadine, lemon juice, Zima
2. Cupid Cooler: 5 ounces white wine, 1 ounce Chambord, 2 ounces Zima
3. Fuzzball: 1/3 part peach schnapps, 2/3 part Zima
4. Goosin’ Cupid: 2 ounces orange vodka, 1/2 ounce sloe gin, Zima
5. Hot Ice: 1 ounce pepper vodka, 1/2 ounce Blue Curacao, 1/2 ounce pineapple juice, 3/4 ounce Zima
6. Mother-in-Law: 1 1/2 ounces vodka, 1/3 ounce amaretto, cranberry juice, Zima
7. Pretty Little Girl from Omagh: 1/2 ounce dark rum, 1/2 ounce light rum, 1/2 ounce blackberry schnapps, 1/2 ounce cherry brandy, Zima
8. Rum Special: 1 ounce spiced rum, 1 1/2 ounces lime juice, Zima
9. Wyooter Hooter: 1 ounce whiskey, 3 ounces Zima, grenadine
Photo credit: Courtesy of MillerCoors