Jarritos has been a brand ahead of its time. Glass bottles, natural fruit flavors, and cane sugar have set it apart from the rest of the beverage industry since the 1950s. Surprisingly, Jarritos first gained popularity in Mexico by introducing a Coffee flavored soda, then Tamarind, and subsequently the fruit flavors that most people are more familiar with today. That history is chronicled here. I remember seeing Jarritos at Mexican grocery stores as early as the late 90s, but they gained distribution in the United States in 1988. The soda seems to be gaining popularity right now and I’ve come across it in lots of restaurants and even mainstream grocery stores. I picked up a 12 flavor variety pack recently and jotted down a few notes about the flavors. They’re sorted below in order of my preference, but please don’t view this as a final judgment! It’s tough to sample 12 flavors back to back.
- Mango – This had a very strong and clean mango flavor. Jarritos is best when it’s bold, and this is not a subtle soda. I love spicy food, and something sweet like this could help cut through some scorching Mexican salsas.
- Guava – You don’t see a lot of guava in the lower 48. I think the flavor is somewhere between pineapple and strawberry. Jarritos captured this really well, and while not as bold as some of their other flavors, there’s enough nuance to guava to make it an interesting option. Almost a little floral. I also loved the pink hue.
- Pineapple – In general, pineapple has a bit of a flavor spectrum ranging from bright and tart to a syrupy nectar. The Jarritos interpretation is more sweet than tart, but like Mango I find it very refreshing when paired with street tacos and a salsa de arbol.
- Grapefruit – This was very tart and bright. If you like Squirt, then you’ll like this. The sour punch of the grapefruit flavor can mask the sweetness and make this a bit more of a sipping beverage, but it’s just as sweet as the others. It’s also the only green glass bottle out of the family.
- Passion Fruit – I love passion fruit. I was first introduced to it in Honduras where it was called “maracuyá”. Later, I found all kinds of other uses for the fruit in Hawai’i where it’s called “lilikoi”. There are some differences in the varieties between the two regions (a yellow skinned fruit in Honduras, a purple skinned fruit in Hawai’i), but the flavors seem consistent to. It’s very sweet and punchy, but also sour. It has to be balanced with sugar, but it’s one of my favorites. The Jarritos version is not as bright as it could be and has a bit of a sour finish, but I still think it deserves a place in the top half of my rankings.
- Mandarin – This flavor is a throwback to Elementary school lunches and the little cans of mandarin orange slices in syrup. They got the mandarin orange flavor dialed in, and the cane sugar echoes the syrup. I liked it, but not more than the flavors above.
- Mexican Cola – When I think of Mexican Cola, I think of Mexi-Coke. Jarritos’ version of cola is fruitier than Coke, a bit smoother (less bitter), but ultimately not better than glass bottle Coke. Good, but not great. If you don’t want a fruit flavor then this might scratch the itch for you. It reminded me a bit of Puma Kola from Sprecher, but again…not as good.
- Fruit Punch – The flavor profile reminded me a lot of Hawai’ian Punch, but actually less sweet. I don’t dislike it, but the flavor was a bit too much like candy for me to choose this over most of the others.
- Tamarind – I appreciate the tamarind flavor due to its history in the company and also some nostalgia from my time in Central America drinking the bitter/tangy tamarind agua fresca. It’s an acquired taste, and the soda isn’t bad. I’m just not going to crave it. I’ve definitely grabbed it when the mood has struck me, but it’s not a go-to. It might be more a social signal to others that I’m a sophisticated Jarritos drinker rather than an actual preference.
- Strawberry – This is a hard flavor to get right. Strawberry juice is extremely delicate, so you have to rely on some artificial flavorings to have it come through properly. Jarritos falls into the same profile as most other Strawberry sodas. It tastes fake. That doesn’t mean it tastes bad, but again…it tastes like candy.
- Lime – My reason for ranking this one so low is because I want it to be tart (like lemonade/limeade), but instead it’s just sweet. This is another flavor that I might be in a mood for occasionally, but otherwise I’ll leave it to the side.
- Watermelon – There’s just not enough here to keep me interested. The flavor is too subtle, and it’s also too sweet. Watermelon is a delicate flavor and it can’t compete with the brightness and boldness of its counterparts. I’d like it more as an agua fresca where you can dial back the sugar, or maybe supplement with lime or another citrus. I found this one to be boring.
Not Rated: Jamaica. The box only had 12 flavors, and Jamaica was the one they left out. I’ve been looking around, and once I find a bottle I’ll make sure I update the rankings. My memory is that Jamaica is good enough to rank in the top 6, but we’ll see once I get there.
I would drink most of these again, especially if the choice was any Jarritos vs something like a Diet Pepsi. Do you think the order is reasonable?