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“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 to create a complex cocktail.”
More people than ever are entertaining at home and that has certainly driven sales of canned cocktails, but that’s not all. Bartenders, distilleries, and breweries have discovered that they can actually package their recipes in cans or bottles for people to drink at home, and consumers have caught on. The quality of canned cocktails has skyrocketed in the last few years, and there are more choices than ever before. Luckily, we've done the research to find the best options out there. Here are some of the best canned cocktails on the market to get right now.
Best Overall: Cutwater Spirits
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.”
Best Craft: Home School Blood Orange Manhattan
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 Organic: Owl’s Brew
Owl’s Brew is a boozy tea brand that uses organic ingredients, no added flavors, and fresh brewed tea for its lineup of RTDs. The focus here is what the company calls “real ingredients,” which means not even natural flavors are used, which it points out are made in a lab. Flavors include Jasmine, Blueberry and Lemon; Matcha with Pineapple and Chamomile; and White Tea with Raspberry and Watermelon.
Best Keto-Friendly/Sugar-free: The Long Drink
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 version called Long Drink Zero, for those who need to watch their sugar intake. It’s also keto-friendly, but provides the same flavors as the original.
Best Whiskey: Rogue Spirits Ginger Lemon Whiskey Mule
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, 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
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
“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 Tiki: DRNXMYTH Rum Punch
“Drnxmyth are the hands-down most stellar canned cocktails,” says Stanyard. “Each recipe has a fantastic bartender behind it. They helped see it come to life, and these freshly made cocktails are something to seek out to try.”
If you’re looking for a Tiki theme, try the Rum Punch. It was created by Los Angeles bartender, Bad Birdy, and combines SelvaRey Rum with bitters, pineapple, coconut, and mint, resulting in a modern but familiar twist on a tropical classic.
Best Margarita: Dulce Vida Sparkling Margarita
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.
There are so many canned cocktail options to choose from these days, and it can be hard to sift through as new brands launch every week. But the leader in the category is Cutwater Spirits (view at Drizly), due to its wide-ranging lineup of drinks and the use of real spirits and fresh ingredients. These are RTDs 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 either come from distilleries making their own spirits or partner with reputable producers so the whiskey or gin or tequila used adds flavor and not just a buzz.
Do canned cocktails have more sugar/more sodium?
The level of sugar and sodium varies based on the brand. Some will have more than what would be found in a drink you make at home, but most are conscious about health trends and keep the levels to a reasonable level. And 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 these in a cool, dark place as you would any other can or bottle. Throw them in the fridge to cool them down if you are drinking from the can, or pour over ice to recreate a cocktail experience. Once opened, these won’t last long though, so either enjoy or pour the remainder down the sink after a few hours.
Why Trust Liquor.com?
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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