Food & Drink

The 70-Proof Cinnabon, Made for 'People Who Like That Kind of Vodka'


The 70-Proof Cinnabon, Made for 'People Who Like That Kind of Vodka'

Courtesy Pinnacle

Cinnabon had already given so much to the world, even beyond the hundreds of food courts floating in a heavenly aroma as those gooey, frosted rolls bake in the company’s ovens. There’s also Cinnabon cereal, Cinnabon coffee creamer, Cinnabon Cream of Wheat, Cinnabon-flavored nuts, Cinnabon bagels, Cinnabon K-Cups—even a Cinnabon-scented candle. In total, more than 70 Cinnabon products are in grocery stores already, and now the world will finally be able to get hammered with help from the company that brought us the 880-calorie cinnamon roll.

Yes, get ready for Cinnabon Vodka.

The 70-proof liquor, made with Pinnacle Vodka and set to launch Dec. 1, was developed over three months after the vodka brand approached Cinnabon about co-developing a new baked-goods flavor. Pinnacle’s line already includes cake and pumpkin pie varieties. Cinnabon President Kat Cole sees it as just the start of a beautiful relationship with parent company Beam (BEAM). “Don’t think I’m not begging. I want a Skinny Girl Cinnabon vodka,” she said, naming another Beam brand. “It’s one of the only fat-free ways to indulge in Cinnabon.” A Classic Roll has 36 grams of fat.

The flavor went through 15 iterations before Cinnabon decided that the vodka maker had gotten its signature vanilla-caramel-cinnamon balance right. Here’s how Bloomberg Businesweek’s Duane Stanford described the unmistakable experience of eating the company’s signature product in a recent profile of Cole:

“It’s difficult to understand the way the Classic Roll supercharges multiple senses at once—unless you have eaten one. The plastic knife cuts through an outside that’s mildly crusty before giving way to a softer middle. Frosting melts into the ridges of the bun, which sits in a brown puddle of excess. Take a bite and the buttery flavor bathes the edges of the tongue as the gritty sweetness of sugar and cinnamon washes over the tip. The texture is lighter than expected. The sensation of pure sugar can be overwhelming. It coats the mouth and clogs the back of the throat. Halfway through the roll, the body cries out for water or, even better, Diet Coke, which has a way of cutting through the varnish laid by the fats and sugars. Deep inside the roll, the bun’s core is hot and yet just barely cooked. Once gone, the bottom of the clamshell box is left smeared like a crime scene with a mash of syrup and cream cheese. Each one is 3 inches high and 4 inches in diameter and costs $3.69.”

So yes, the new vodka is going to be on the sweet side. “For people who are not already fans of sweet vodkas like vanilla and marshmallow and pumpkin pie, they react to it the same way they do to vanilla. They go, ‘That sounds gross,” says Cole. Still, she concedes, “It’s intended for people who like that kind of vodka.”

Grocery products now represent about one-third of Cinnabon’s $1 billion in global retail sales, reflecting the brand’s evolution from a baked good into a flavor. “We are experts in indulgence and yummy aroma,” says Cole, and they’re working on infusing that cinnamon-vanilla flavor into yet more products.

Venessa-wong-190x190
Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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