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Anheuser-Busch Settles “Lime-a-Rita” Case

With the popularity of margaritas, sangrias, mohitos and other specialty cocktails, it is no wonder that big beverage companies would want to mass market some of those drinks. And that is exactly what beer giant Anheuser-Busch did by introducing the “Ritas” brand of drinks like “Lime-A-Rita,” “Ritas Sangria Spritz,” and “Ritas Mohito Fizz.”


There was just one problem according to a couple of class action lawsuits [second lawsuit] filed against the company.


…reasonable consumers of the Margarita Products expect that based on the word “MARGARITA” on the package of the Margarita Products the products would contain tequila. This belief is further reinforced by the image of a salted margarita glass on the packaging.

However, unbeknownst to those consumers, the Margarita Products do not contain tequila.

Moreover, nowhere on the front, sides, or top panel of the packaging (the consumer facing panels) does Defendant state that the Margarita Products do not have tequila, or that the Margarita Products are actually just flavored beers that taste like a margarita. Instead, the bottom panel of the packaging, where no reasonable consumer would look prior to purchase, contains a small font statement that the Margarita Products are actually “Malt Beverage[s] With Natural Flavors and Caramel Color”.

In any event, to the extent seen on the underside packaging, reasonable consumers are unlikely to understand the foregoing “malt beverage” statement as meaning that the Margarita Products do not contain tequila…

So this margarita drink which most consumers would expect to contain tequila, has none. And the only disclosure about that is on the bottom of the carton, where consumers are not likely to look nor understand that fact based on the wording there.

The plaintiffs also allege that the company’s sister products don’t contain the specialty alcohol normally associated with that type of drink. So, their sangria doesn’t contain red wine, and their mohito doesn’t contain rum. Basically, these products are all just flavored beers. That means, according to the consumers’ lawyers, that Anheuser-Busch mispresented these products in violation of consumer protection laws.

In a bit of legal maneuvering, one of the cases was withdrawn and the other was just tentatively settled. Details of the settlement were not available at publication time.

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4 thoughts on “Anheuser-Busch Settles “Lime-a-Rita” Case”

  1. This is one of those weird situations where I somewhat agree.

    Budweiser had a Straw-ber-ita drink but that was clearly labeled as Budweiser on the box, so no reasonable consumer would expect anything beyond flavored Budweiser, however, with a new brand name of “Ritas” there is no established expectation that these drinks are all malt beverage based. It’s very reasonable for a customer to assume that a brand called “Ritas” that makes a drink called “Lime-a-Rita sparkling Margarita” has tequila in it since, as outlined in the lawsuit, the drink margarita uses tequila as a primary ingredient.

    I think by changing this away from the Budweiser label and making it a new brand, AB-Bev has put itself in a pickle.

  2. Wine coolers are known to always be flavored beer. The only issue (and a big one), is calling this a “Sparkling Margarita”. As everyone noted, a Margarita means tequila. (unless proceeded by “virgin”)

    I doubt Margarita is a USDA restricted term, but no question it’s misleading. The 8% alcohol (which probably varies by state) is also a giveaway it’s a beer/wine cooler.

    • The malt beverages can’t be marketed as wine coolers. Dig into it, you’ll find those still marketed as wine coolers by their makers have wine.

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