The world of sweet vodkas just got a little bigger with Pinnacle’s newest flavor: Cinnabon cinnamon roll.
The vodka brand, owned by Beam, will start rolling out 70-proof Cinnabon-branded vodka Dec. 1. While vodka flavors like whipped cream, pumpkin pie, and marshmallow sound as if they were designed for a bender by Buddy the Elf, they’re quite popular in the U.S. Beam said earlier this year that Pinnacle’s whipped cream spirit is the top flavored vodka in North America, and this season, it’s bringing back pumpkin pie vodka after a successful first run last year.
By co-branding with Cinnabon’s cinnamon rolls versus pursuing a generic flavor like “cake” or “strawberry shortcake,” though, Pinnacle is doing something slightly different. The vodka brand approached Cinnabon this summer about teaming up, Kat Cole, Cinnabon’s president, said in an interview with BuzzFeed.
“Alcohol and vodka, in general, is an indulgent segment of retail, and we’re definitely indulgent, so there’s an alignment there, but if it’s not done right, it could go very, very wrong,” Cole said. “So we called them back and said we’re willing to explore it, but we don’t know your capabilities.”
From there began the labor of nabbing the perfect boozy flavor of Cinnabon’s 880-calorie cinnamon rolls, a process that took 15 tries, she said.
“We had to make it more smooth, more sweet but mellow, not cinnamon spicy, and had to dial up the vanilla and caramel notes…the cinnamon buns are mostly famous for all the frosting and icing that’s on them,” she said. “We finally got to a point and said, ‘This is it.’ When you smell it out of the bottle it smells like cream-cheese frosting, which is what our cinnamon rolls smell like.”
Some people have asked Cole if they should drink the vodka while eating Cinnabon’s cinnamon buns, to which she responds, “Please don’t do that.”
The vodka tastes best sipped by itself, poured into coffee with cream, or mixed with apple cider, she says. “It’s really just a warm, snuggly kind of flavor,” she explained.
While appropriate for the holiday season, the beverage will actually be sold year-round, she said. It’s not a bad way to cap off a year in which global retail sales of Cinnabon are expected to top $1 billion.
“I wouldn’t have predicted a year ago we would end up in the spirits world,” she said. “I’m not shocked, but I really couldn’t have predicted it.”