A Margarita Without Tequila? This Crook and Marker Customer’s Not Buying It

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Crook and Marker Accused of Leading Customers to Believe the Company’s Canned Margaritas Contain Tequila

What’s a margarita without tequila? For one margarita-lover, it’s a recipe for a lawsuit. New Yorker Lachae Vickers has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Crook and Marker, accusing the company of leading consumers to believe there’s tequila in its canned margarita cocktails when, in fact, there is none. Instead, Vickers says in her lawsuit, Crook and Marker uses brewed alcohol that is flavored to taste like tequila, but which is nothing like the real thing.

What’s shaking in the case

Vickers filed the proposed class action lawsuit in New York saying she bought the canned drinks from grocery stores, bodegas, gas stations, and other outlets thinking the drinks contained tequila. She said in the lawsuit it wasn’t just the name that misled her, but the overall packaging which includes a cocktail glass with a rim covered in salt, a picture of the agave plant, and the statement, “Flavor Made With Tequila.” 

She accuses Crook and Marker of using that marketing to try to appeal “to the 60 percent of Americans who identify a margarita as their cocktail of choice.”

“That the Product does not contain tequila, at least in a form expected by consumers, is confirmed by the fine print on the bottom of the package’s ingredient list, identifying ‘organic brewed alcohol’ instead of ‘tequila’,” the lawsuit says. 

Vickers argues the fine print is “not readily legible” because of its small size and “inconspicuous placement,” and even if someone did see it, they wouldn’t understand what it meant given the rest of the labeling.

What makes tequila and margaritas unique

As Vickers explains in the lawsuit, tequila is made with the blue agave plant, a succulent with large leaves and pointy tips, native to regions of the Americas. “Standards for tequila production were established by the Norma Oficial Mexicana (‘NOM’), and adopted by the United States, requiring that it contain not less than 51 percent blue agave sugars, prior to fermentation,” the lawsuit reads. The specifications ensure a consistent flavor profile, and give tequila its distinct taste and characteristics.

While agave is the backbone of tequila, the popular spirit plays that same role for the margarita cocktail. While every home bartender knows the importance of tequila in the drink, you can even run it by Merriam-Webster, which says it is “a cocktail consisting of tequila, lime or lemon juice, and an orange-flavored liqueur.” 

Other companies faced legal action over tequila claims

Crook and Marker aren’t the first drinks makers to be hit with a proposed class action lawsuit alleging false tequila claims. Beverage giant Anheuser-Busch had to pay out $6 million dollars in a settlement with consumers over claims its Lime-A-Rita mixed drinks had no tequila included. Consumers were eligible for payments of up to $21.25 per household, Food and Wine reported at the time

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola was met with a proposed class action lawsuit alleging the company of deceptively marketing the Topo Chico Margarita Hard Seltzers as having tequila, and Bud Light Platinum Hard Seltzer, Dos Equis Ranch Water, and Travis Scott’s Cacti Agave Seltzer have all been hit with nearly identical lawsuits with the same claims, Tequila Raiders reported.

Keep an eye on your canned beverages

A new wave of canned cocktails has hit the market in recent years, and, like with any product, some of the packaging is more genuine than others. As Vickers has pointed out in this lawsuit, flashy statements and images might point to one set of ingredients, but reading the ingredients list on the packaging or item is the only way to know. 

Vickers wants to represent New York residents in the proposed class action lawsuit, where she is accusing Crook and Marker of violations of New York General Business Law.

Vickers and the proposed class are represented by Spencer Sheehan of Sheehan & Associates P.C. and James Chung of James Chung Law P.C.

The Crook and Marker Margarita class action lawsuit is Vickers v. Crook & Marker LLC, Case No. 2:24-cv-01261, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

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