Credit: James Tran

Club Kokomo Spirits Brings a Tropical Buzz to San Diego With Caribbean-Inspired Canned Cocktails

The Beach Boys’ Mike Love and Geoff Longenecker of Seven Caves Distillery Have Created a Collection of Craft Cocktails

“Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya…”

If you’ve ever dreamed of getting away to a mythical, magical little place called Kokomo—now’s your chance!

Best Canned Cocktails in San Diego
Credit: James Tran

The Beach Boys co-founder and original band member Mike Love and Geoff Longenecker of Seven Caves Distillery have created a collection of craft cocktails in a can—inspired by the group’s 1988 hit song that spawned a community of beachgoers seeking that little slice of tropical paradise.

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While Kokomo is technically more of a state of mind than a geographic location, the launch of Club Kokomo Spirits is reigniting the collective passion for an island getaway—taking the lyrics “bodies in the sand, tropical drink melting in your hand” to a whole new level.

Credit: James Tran

Love linked arms with Longnecker to craft four rum- and gin-based flavors in the core cocktail collection. The spirits enterprise proudly produces and distributes the beverage brand locally in San Diego.

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“Each one of our cocktails has unique elements,” explains Love’s son, business partner and the banner’s Head of Brand Development, Brian Love. “Unlike [spiked] seltzers, we’ve created these to drink like a [mixed] cocktail…with fruit-forward notes like guava and lychee.”

But don’t expect any heavy, filling flavors here.

“This isn’t your traditional rum or gin based cocktail,” adds Chris Ebbeler, head of marketing and social strategy for the brand. “It’s much more of a crafted experience. It’s clear, crisp and clean. It’s really refreshing—not syrupy sweet like a rum and coke.”

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The catalyst for the whole creation began years ago. On a night off from a summer concert tour stop in New York City, Mike and his wife Jacquelyne enjoyed a rare night out for dinner. Mike ordered a particularly delicious Mojito, one of the only cocktails he drinks, which uniquely featured a sugar cane stalk in the presentation. As he hummed the bass line to the hit song “Kokomo,” he was hit with a stroke of linguistic genius—christening his spin on “Kokomo” and “Mojito” to create what is now known today as the “Kokomojito.”

Infusing the traditional rum- and mint-based beverage with a twist of lime and lemongrass, the result is a symphony of flavors you’ll just have to taste to believe. No stranger to a melodic melange, Love’s beverage blends are as smooth as the band’s five-part harmonies, and the flavor notes are just as pitch-perfect.

Credit: James Tran

Also included in the libation lineup is the Afternoon Delight—a citrusy rum rush that’s similar in taste to a ginger mule with notes of maple, ginger and allspice; the Excitation—grounded by gin with elements of citrus, black cherry and passionfruit; and the Mystique—a tropical fruit blend of guava and lychee, cemented with a foundation of rum infused with jasmine tea.

Not only will Club Kokomo’s collection of rum- and gin-based beverages transport you to a sun-soaked island, but they’re also racking up the accolades. The brand was recently awarded three Bartender Spirits Awards designations: the Mystique cocktail won gold, and both Excitation and Kokomojito won silver!

Credit: James Tran

In addition to a robust flavor profile, the driving force is “the portability and convenience of having an elevated cocktail experience in the palm of your hand,” explains Brian Love.

The timing of Love’s brainchild turned out to be divine; pandemic life brought lockdowns and travel bans, leaving dreamers around the country yearning for an escape to a fictional fantasy island like Kokomo.

Best Canned Cocktails in San Diego
Credit: James Tran

“Dad hadn’t had a summer off in 60 years [until Covid],” Brian Love explains, which created the perfect timeline—33 days to be exact—to dream up a distillery and manifest the Kokomojito into the hands of the people craving it most.

In early 2022, as the post-pandemic landscape began to take shape, The Beach Boys were set to partner on a three-day excursion with Norwegian Cruise Lines—which turned out to be the perfect place to test drive and soft launch the product, providing a physical element to the musical experience.

“We had 2,400 captive cruisers to test the initial first two [flavors],” says the younger Love. The response was overwhelmingly positive. “So we said, let’s do this. Let’s make it official.”

Festivals around Southern California, including SoCal Taco Fest at Waterfront Park and the BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach, were among the first to sample the full cocktail lineup, proving to be an ideal target audience.

Credit: James Tran

“People came out of the pandemic fundamentally different,” Ebbeler adds. “There was an element of being on auto-pilot until [Covid] happened. People suddenly had time to make sourdough starters, and making fresh cocktails at home became part of that experience. People  were having happy hours over Zoom and taking time to explore a new taste profile. The idea of complex tastes has become more mainstream now, and that holds true for food and liquor as well.”

Credit: James Tran

Hitting 22 retail stores across the San Diego region in October 2022, the curated collection is also currently available online, shipping to 34 states nationwide—although the brand is rapidly expanding.

This summer, Orange County will begin to see premium canned cocktails in liquor retailers, and the brand will make its way along the coast to Northern California later this year. Club Kokomo Spirits will also be making a big debut as one of the premium canned cocktails available at the Orange County Fair, which runs from July 14 to August 13. Fans can be on the lookout for award-winning Mystique and Kokomojito cans!

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Also on tap: live tastings and demonstrations at Seven Caves Distillery in San Diego as well as VIP experiences and summer events. A line of aged spirits under the same label is in the works, and like-minded folks can sign up to join Club Kokomo for updates on new releases, merch drops and meet-and-greets with the man, Mike Love, himself.

“We want fans to get involved in the process, and we want to give them VIP content they can’t get anywhere else,” explains Ebbeler. “It’s truly a community that we are excited to see come to life.”

In the meantime, it’s clear that the Kokomo spirit is alive and well—and now, forever captured in a can.

“Kokomo is a mythical place,” says Brian Love, “but we can help you get there—and that begins with one sip.”

Club Kokomo Spirits
@clubkokomospirits

Writer | + posts

Based in Los Angeles, Kandace has spent the past ten years in the fashion and lifestyle space, and recently in entertainment at Sony Pictures Studios. She has a Masters in Journalism from Emerson College and has studied in Paris, Firenze, and Washington DC, beginning her career as a style editor and tastemaker for NBC. She is an internationally award-winning filmmaker, having studied screenwriting for film and television at UCLA, and her work has been celebrated around the world, in cities like London, Nice, New York, and Montréal. Paying homage to her French heritage, she is also the creator of The Chic American--a style and culture editorial destination for Francophiles, dedicated to the art of living an elevated, French-inspired lifestyle.

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