Summer is upon us, and so are lakeside barbecues and pool parties. Lucky for us, canned cocktails are all the rage right now, and fierce competition for the market has even the big names jumping in on the trend. Quality is steadily improving as well, so no one will frown upon you for ditching the disposable cups and sipping straight from the can.
Uncle Billy’s Sparkling Craft Cocktails
Austin-based Uncle Billy’s was the first producer in Texas to introduce ready-to-drink canned cocktails made with real spirits. The brewstillery’s line of sparkling craft cocktails – created by distilling expert Mark Shilling, who previously launched Uncle Billy’s line of spirits, and beverage manager and in-house mixologist Josh Mabrey – is made with vodka rather than malt beverage for a crisp taste and higher AVB. Mabrey, who creates Uncle Billy’s tap cocktails, reformulated his recipes with infused spirits, fresh juices and house-made syrups for packaging in cans. Leslie’s Cucumber Sipper combines fresh cucumbers – hand-peeled and juiced in-house- with tonic water for a dry super refresher, while the Lady Bird Lemonade tastes homemade, with lovely notes of lavender and honey. The Vimosa is a take on the classic mimosa, with the addition of pineapple and coconut syrup for a tropical twist. They are perfectly delicious out of the can, but pour them over crushed ice and garnish with some fresh herbs and no one will know you didn’t shake them yourself. Plus, the 16 oz. can is perfect for sharing with a friend.
Novo Fogo Sparkling Caipirinha
This sustainable cachaça maker recently released two new flavors of canned sparkling caipirinhas – passion fruit-lime and mango-lime – which joined the original lime flavor already on the market. The line features an improved recipe with less sugar, fewer calories and carbohydrates per serving and at around 8% ABV a lower percentage than similar products, making them seriously crushable. Despite the lower alcohol the excellent flavor of Novo Fogo’s silver cachaça shines through every sip and the fruit flavors are fresh tasting, although the passion fruit one is very subtle. Drink well-chilled straight from the can or pour over ice with a wedge of lime for less sweetness.
Dulce Vida Sparkling Canned Cocktails
Dulce Vida Tequila recently released a line of sparkling canned cocktails made with real fruit, fresh lime juice and Dulce Vida blanco tequila, distilled in Los Altos de Jalisco from 100% Blue Weber agave. All three flavors come at 12.5% ABV, with the immediate stand-out being the paloma which brims with pink grapefruit flavor. The margarita is a close second, much better than other ready-to-drink brands and is even better in a salt-rimmed glass. However, the watermelon margarita boasts a nice aroma of fresh-cut melon but the taste disappointed. They come in packs of four 200ml/6.8oz. cans and are available nationally in Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, New York and Colorado.
Half-Seas Sparkling Cocktails
These Seattle-based canned cocktails are made with distilled spirits, natural flavors and pure cane sugar. The name is inspired by a 1700s sailor term, “half–seas over,” which is said to originate from the notion of a heavy-laden ship, so low in the water that small waves, or half-seas, wash over the deck. Half-Seas cocktails are lightly effervescent and extremely quaffable – the 200ml cans can be gone in a couple of sips. The bramble blends London dry gin with berry flavors that are a bit on the SweetTarts side; the daiquiri is made with white rum and has a strong flavor of lime peel – if you pour into a glass add a few drops of fresh lime juice to freshen it up. The paloma is just delightful as is.
These outstanding Italian spritzes are born from a collaboration between Scrappy’s Bitters and Mancino Vermouth. These all-natural dry and refreshing ready-to-drink aperitivi combine vermouth from Piedmont, cocktail bitters and mineral water with just the right amount of carbonation. SPREZZA spritzers contain no added sugar (less than 15g of sugar per can), flavoring or preservatives, and taste just like true scratch-made Italian spritzes. In traditional fashion you can choose between bianco and rosso, depending on your mood or preference. Low in alcohol, food-friendly and superbly delicious, these will be the hit of any poolside party.
The name for these dry wine spritzers from SoCal comes from “hock,” an English slang term for white wine from the Rhine Region, and “foxy,” an adjective often used to describe the native Catawba grape. The grapes – Catawba, St. Vincent and Vidal Blanc, to name a few – are sustainably farmed at family-owned vineyards in the midwest. HOXIE‘s core flavors include lemon-ginger rosé, peach blossom blush and an ultra-dry lemon linden blanc, but they also feature seasonal flavors like watermelon Hatch chile, cola rouge and apple chamomile. Alcohol content is only 5% so they are quite sessionable.
Honorable mention: Mighty Swell Spritzers
Although Mighty Swell beverages are spiked spritzers rather than cocktails, they earn an honorable mention for being outstanding in their category. Originally conceived by Treaty Oak Distilling in Dripping Springs, Texas, these sippers are made from an alcohol base originating from the excess sucrose normally removed from traditional malt bases, which is fermented using heat then rapidly cooled resulting in a clean alternative commonly referred to as “alcohol from cold-brewed sugar.” All ingredients are derived from natural sources without artificial sweeteners, and they have been independently verified by retailers like Whole Foods, Earthfare, and Natural Grocers. The flavors are reminiscent of popular fruit candies so they will appeal to those with a sweeter palate.