The New Tito's Vodka Promotion Is... Complicated

The Tito’s Walk-Pack is, depending on where you live, a legally questionable bit of merch for a good cause.

Dogs, cocktails, and the great outdoors—if you conducted a survey, these are things that a majority of Americans would support. And Tito's, distillers of the nation's most popular vodka, is aiming to mix and shake all three.

Last week, the company sent out a press release detailing the Walktail Capsule Collection, a new collaboration with the BISSELL Pet Foundation. Per Tito's, this lineup of products blends the pleasures of drinking in public with an inspiration that I refuse to add to my search history: "Hot girl walks," which are "currently dominating across social media."

Most of the items in the Walktail collection are inoffensive—baseball caps, dog kerchiefs, a sporty water dish—but one item in the list has raised eyebrows at The Takeout. Rather, it's the Tito's Walk-Pack ($45), a fanny pack equipped with a holder for your drinking vessel (in this case, the Tito's Walk & Sip YETI Rambler® Lowball), along with three pockets for mini 50mL Tito's bottles (sold separately). The company has also supplied drink recipes to go along with the walktail theme, all incorporating its signature spirit.

Three shots, a mixing glass, a blueprint for specialty cocktails, and an energetic dog on a leash—what could possibly go wrong?

The tangled legality of open container laws

Let's tackle the obvious issue first: Is it legal to enjoy a walktail out in public? As stated by Forbes, "Most U.S. states prohibit you from having an open bottle of alcohol in a public place, such as on the streets." Now, the wording here is a bit tricky. Sometimes it's not the state that prohibits public drinking, but rather the local municipality. Yet when nearly all of the municipalities forbid such behavior, it amounts to the same thing. Thus, for most of the Tito's drinking populace, turning "your daily dog walk into an on-the-go yappy hour" could, at the very least, result in a citation or fine.

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"Humbug," you say. "I'll mix my cocktails at home, toss the Walk-Pack on my passenger seat, and put it on after I drive to the dog park." This idea is just as bad, as most states prohibit open containers of alcohol in the car. There are exceptions, such as Missouri, Delaware, Tennessee, and eight other states in the union who allow passengers to consume alcohol. And most public parks (state campgrounds and private sport stadiums not withstanding) have anti-booze rules of their own. So, despite Tito's blatant on-the-go marketing, using the Walk-Pack for its as-advertised purpose will more than likely be illegal.

Beth Bellanti-Pander, the company's Director of Vodka for Dog People (which is an all-time excellent job title) addressed the issue in a statement to Food & Wine:

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"A walktail should be made to enjoy responsibly — and where legal. Alcohol legalities vary from city to city and location to location. For example, in our hometown of Austin, Texas, you can walk around with a drink in hand in most neighborhoods... You can always put water in your to-go vessel on your walk and have a cocktail at home pre- or post-walk with your friends and dogs."

Imagine the situation this last bit of advice could produce. "No, officer, this clear liquid in my tiny Tito's bottles isn't vodka. It's water, I swear!"

Tito’s intentions are good, even if the “Walktail” recipes aren’t

As much as I like the company's vodka, I'm obviously not keen on this marketing. But Tito's connection with the aforementioned BISSELL Pet Foundation is positive. Per the Walktails press release, BISSELL "is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help reduce the number of animals in shelters through pet adoption, spay/neuter programs, vaccinations, microchipping, and crisis and disaster response." Sounds like a group after Bob Barker's very own heart.

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And the price is certainly right. According to Tito's website, "All net proceeds from [the purchase of Walktails Merchandise] will be donated to BISSELL Pet Foundation and its goal to find a loving home for every pet." The fine print clarifies the finances a bit, stating that "Net proceeds constitute an average margin of at least 25% of the retail price of products, excluding the cost of shipping and tax on the purchase. Each nonprofit is guaranteed a minimum donation of $25,000 in 2023 as part of this program."

So, we've established the positives of Tito's mission, along with the formidable legal challenges. But what about the recipes for the four "Walktails" themselves? Here are the entrants, "curated specifically to take and make on the go."

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  • The Tropical Tail Wagger: Vodka, orange sparkling water, pineapple, and guava
  • Best In Show: Vodka, sparkling water, and a lime slice
  • Sunny Dog Day: Vodka and lemonade
  • Watering Hole: Vodka, water, and a lime slice
  • Apart from the first entry, these seem less like "curated" beverages and more like "Mixers created from a 22-year-old's empty fridge." In fact, the more we look at it, the less palatable this whole idea becomes.

Better ways to drink with your dog

If you absolutely must drink with your dog in public, there are better ways to do it than walking around flouting open container laws. Venues such as Madison, Wisconsin's Boneyard Dog Park and Bier Garten are a thing, and Boneyard has a 4.6/5 rating from 184 Google reviews. But this mixing of canines and cocktails takes place under (relatively) controlled circumstances, with an extensive list of requirements and waivers in place.

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Tito's Walk-Pack concept has no such constraints. And even if you happen to live in an area where you're legally permitted to stroll down the sidewalk blithely sipping your Moscow Mule, the perils outweigh the gain. Remember, you're still walking just a few paces from the street. That proximity to motor vehicles, bicycles, and other forms of traffic starts to look pretty risky when there's an animal attached to your wrist, and it takes less than a second for things to go wrong. Especially if a motorist happens to drive past with a dog perched on their lap (seriously, don't do this).

But maybe we're just cynical. After all, we're not lawmakers or veterinarians, so let's bring in an expert instead. I sent the shopping link for the Walk-Pack to the owner of a successful dog daycare and boarding facility, and our doubts were verified immediately.

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"The only time," they said, "I could maybe see that being useful/appropriate is at a—Actually, I don't think there's anywhere that combining alcohol with your pet is a good idea."

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