“Canned cocktails have taken off in the last year,” says Steva Casey, bartender at Atomic Lounge in Birmingham, AL. “The presentation in a can belies the actual experience of each component working together to create a complex cocktail.”
The quality of canned cocktails has skyrocketed in the last few years, and there are more choices within the category than ever before. Whether you're stocking up on refreshing beverages to take on the next big adventure in the great outdoors, or you're simply craving a restaurant-quality cocktail experience at home without any time spent shaking or stirring, there's a canned cocktail out there for you. Luckily, we've done the research to find the best options out there. Here are some of the best canned cocktails to crack open right now.
Best Overall: Cutwater Spirits Tequila Variety Pack
Capacity: 12 oz. | ABV: varies | Base Spirit: Tequila
Cutwater Spirits is really the best overall in the canned cocktail category because of the quality and the impressive range of drinks it makes, from tequila and whiskey-based cocktails to a canned White Russian and Mai Tai.
“Cutwater has a broad selection of cocktail choices,” says Jonathan Stanyard of Feast in Seattle. “They cover all the base spirits and styles of cocktails, making it simple to please a crowd.” A great way to give Cutwater a try is with their Tequila Variety Pack, which includes two cans each of three essential tequila cocktails: Paloma, Margarita, and Tequila Soda.
Best Craft: Home School Blood Orange Manhattan
Capacity: 6.8 oz. | ABV: 35% ABV | Base Spirit: Bourbon
These RTDs come from Dave Phinney and his distillery Savage & Cooke in California. But calling them RTDs or canned cocktails doesn’t really do them justice, as these are really craft bottled cocktails that are expertly made and mixed. The first release is a Blood Orange Manhattan, bottled at 70 proof and made with four-year-old bourbon, housemade vermouth, and orange bitters. Each bottle provides enough for two cocktails, just pour over some ice and enjoy.
Best Sugar-Free: Long Drink Company The Finnish Long Drink
Capacity: 12 oz. | ABV: 5.5% ABV | Base Spirit: Neutral grain spirit
This Finnish brand has partnered with actor Miles Teller, who is now a co-owner of the brand. The basic recipe combines natural grapefruit and juniper berry flavors, resulting in an easy-drinking canned cocktail that is new to most Americans. There’s also a sugar-free and keto-friendly version called Long Drink Zero, which provides the same flavors as the original.
Best Whiskey: Rogue Spirits Ginger Lemon Whiskey Mule
Capacity: 12 oz. | ABV: 7.5% ABV | Base Spirit: Whiskey
Rogue is probably best known as a brewery, but the company also has a distillery that makes good craft whiskey, and now a range of enjoyable canned cocktails. The Whiskey Mule should be on your list of ones to try, combining whiskey made in-house with ginger, lemon, simple syrup, and sparkling water. It’s a simple recipe with complex and bold flavors, and the ginger provides a nice spicy balance to the sweetness of the whiskey.
Best Vodka: Crafthouse Cocktails Moscow Mule
Capacity: 6.8 oz. | ABV: 10.1% ABV | Base Spirit: Vodka
Crafthouse prides itself on using fresh ingredients and spirits from like-minded distilleries in its range of bottled cocktails instead of relying on cheap grain alcohol. The drinks are modeled after ones you would order at a bar, and the founders’ long background in the industry has provided them with enough experience for this.
Vodka cocktails can be boring, but this Moscow Mule is bright, spicy, and refreshing. If you have a Moscow Mule mug on hand, fill it with ice and pour this drink in, and garnish with a lime or mint sprig.
Best Bloody Mary: 10 Barrel Brewing Co. Bloody Mary
Capacity: 12 oz. | ABV: 10% ABV | Base Spirit: Vodka
“The 10 Barrel Canned Cocktail line is quite impressive,” says Stanyard. “It should be as they have big brand backing, but the quality is really high. The Mule and the Bloody Mary do not disappoint.” The recipe is a secret family formula from one of the brewers, but Tabasco and horseradish are included for a nice kick in this canned drink, along with celery salt and Worcestershire sauce for some umami flavors as well.
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Best Margarita: Dulce Vida Sparkling Margarita
Capacity: 6.8 oz. | ABV: 12.5% ABV | Base Spirit: Tequila
Dulce Vida is an Austin tequila brand that imports its organic tequila from Mexico. This same spirit is used in its RTD Margarita, which combines 100 percent agave tequila with fresh fruit to make a canned beverage that rivals one you’d order at a bar.
Blanco tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur are combined in perfect proportions, with a sparkling water background to give the drink some effervescence and make it stand out from the pack.
Best Classic: Golden Rule Old Fashioned
Capacity: 3.4 oz. | ABV: 39.5% ABV | Base Spirit: Bourbon
When we think "canned beverage," we're usually imagining something carbonated—beer, soda, seltzer—so perhaps it's no surprise that many purveyors of canned cocktails have drawn deeply from the "sparkling cocktail" well (Gin & Tonic, Paloma, Moscow Mule, etc.). But who's to say you shouldn't be able open an adorable little can, pour the contents over a gorgeous piece of ice, and enjoy a stirred drink as bold and boozy as you'd expect to find in the vibiest of mahogany-laden bars?
Enter Golden Rule Spirits, who have managed to compress all of the rich, warming charm of a classic Old Fashioned into a diminutive (and very handsome) 100 ml. package. Built upon a base of high-rye bourbon, this well-crafted cocktail boasts a palate replete with orange zest and toasty spice—and while it performs beautifully over ice, it's bright enough when chilled to be enjoyed straight out of the can, no dilution necessary. Wherever you enjoy your on-the-go Old Fashioned, don't be surprised if you're struck by the distinct impression of sinking into the stately midcentury lounger depicted on the label, while cool jazz emanates from the hi-fi.
There are so many canned cocktail options to choose from these days, and the category can be hard to sift through, as new brands launch seemingly every week. But the current leader in the category is Cutwater Spirits (view at Drizly), thanks to its wide-ranging lineup of varieties and its use of real spirits and fresh ingredients. These are RTDs (ready-to-drink cocktails) that will satisfy both the casual drinker and seasoned bartender.
Is alcohol already included?
You don’t need to purchase an extra bottle of booze for these drinks, as alcohol is already included. Some rely on neutral grain spirits for this, but most canned cocktails either come from distilleries who are making their own spirits, or from producers who partner with reputable distillers, so that the whiskey or gin or tequila employed in your canned beverage adds legitimate flavor (and not just an anonymous buzz).
Do canned cocktails have more sugar or sodium?
The level of sugar and sodium varies based on the brand, but some will certainly have more than what would be found in a drink you make at home. For those who are trying to avoid sugar completely, there are options that use substitute sweeteners or contain no added sugars.
How do you store?
Before opening, store canned cocktails in a cool, dark place—just as you would any other can or bottle. Toss them in the fridge to cool them down if you'll be drinking straight from the can, or pour over ice to recreate a cocktail experience. Once opened, these won’t last long, so either enjoy or pour the remainder down the sink within a few hours.
Why Trust Liquor.com?
This roundup was edited by Jesse Porter, who spent years working as a bartender, and thus is thrilled to watch the category of canned cocktails expand (if only to spare the shoulders and elbows of generations of bartenders to come). His fiercest hope is that someone manages to perfect a decent Ramos Gin Fizz in a can within his lifetime.
Jonah Flicker is an experienced writer who has been covering spirits and traveling the world visiting distilleries to taste and discover for years. His work has appeared in many different national outlets covering trends, new releases, and the stories and innovators behind the spirits. His first love remains whiskey, but he is partial to tequila, rum, gin, cognac, and all things distilled.
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