Our Favorite Canned Cocktails to Sip at Home
You don't have to go to a fancy bar or restaurant to enjoy the best in mixology. These bartender-created cocktails in cans allow you to experience craft cocktails at home or tote your toddy to the park or beach.
We've come a long way from the syrupy, sugary wine coolers of our youth. In 2020, it's all about the canned cocktail: natural ingredients, top-shelf liquor and a big-city bar taste.
Craft cocktail culture is certifiably a thing in American foodie circles at the moment, so it's only natural that our national taste for boozy sips would be teamed up with that other beloved American pastime: convenience.
Alongside America’s booming distillery culture and cocktail enthusiasm has come an equally exciting trend for high-end and flavor-forward craft cocktails created by mixologists rather than corporate overlords. These curated cocktails in cans are often masterminded by knowledgeable bartenders doing more than just getting some yummy booze in a can. Cocktail purists are creating perfectly balanced drinks that rival what you'd experience in a good restaurant or bar setting. But now you can enjoy a nicely mixed cocktail at home, without much more effort that popping a top. And at a far more reasonable price point than what you'd find in a big city bar.
Packaged in tiny to beer-sized cans, these potable libations are ideal for toting to the beach or a park to keep mess and fuss to a minimum. Just add ice, if you like, though that's not even necessary.
We ranked a number of favorites you can find on sites like Drizly, at a local package store or that may even pop up at a bar or restaurant near you as more and more of these trending canned cocktail manufacturers expand.
These 200-milliliter, 10-percent alcohol cocktails from Madison, Wis., feature pure, natural ingredients like cane sugar, botanicals and spirits and some of the best, vintage-inspired design in the canned cocktail realm. Like many canned cocktail companies Plain Spoke, which was founded by Madison bartender Tom Dufek, has the wit and dedication to craft of so many in the spirits and beer industry. This company is clearly doing it for love rather than just making a buck. Or as the Plain Spoke website instructs: "Our canning process also keeps your cocktail fresher longer inside the can, so it always tastes like some bearded guy with tattoo sleeves and suspenders just handed it to you across the bar." Plain Spoke options include a Moscow Mule, Mojito, Brandy Old Fashioned and a Bourbon Smash. The perfect balance of sweet and tangy lemon, the Bourbon Smash is a standout.
Search the Plain Spoke website to find out where to buy close to you, or better yet, just head to Madison to try these canned cocktails at the source. For now, the cocktails are only available in Wisconsin and Minnesota but will be available in Nebraska and Texas by the Fourth of July.
Georgia's first canned cocktail source, the Atlanta-based Post Meridiem offers petite 100-milliliter cans of 47- to 74-proof cocktails including The Real Lime Juice Margarita, The Hemingway Daiquiri, The Double Old Fashioned, The 1944 Mai Tai, Southside, Cosmopolitan, Espresso Martini and the Vodka Gimlet with all-natural ingredients and imported liquors. Their cocktails are winners of multiple spirits competition awards and my favorite, The Hemingway Daiquiri made with silver and West Indies rums, Italian Maraschino Liqueur, cane sugar syrup and real lime juice is ridiculously balanced, sippable and may forever keep you from ever mixing a daiquiri of your own again. Because of their liquor content, Post Meridiem cocktails are available for shipping online. Or if you're in the Atlanta area, stop by their warehouse where you can buy up to 22 mix-and-match cans at a deep discount.
Offering "the classics, at your convenience" and founded by two Atlanta-based music industry vets, Tip Top tapped celebrated, six-times James Beard Award nominee mixologist Miles Macquarrie to develop the recipes for these powerhouse cocktails in a can. Keeping it simple, the Tip Top repertoire includes a Manhattan, Negroni, Daquiri, Old Fashioned, Jungle Bird, Margarita, Bee's Knees, Espresso Martini and a Gin Martini launched in 2023. As with the other Atlanta-based Post Meridiem canned cocktail company, Tip Top features tiny but tipsy 100-milliliter cans and not-messing-around 52- to 74-proof cocktails. The packs-a-delicious-punch Old Fashioned is a decidedly spicy and complex cocktail that reveals its flavor profile over time and the Negroni is as close to cocktail perfection as they come. You can also find these craft cocktails here and now, on Delta flights.
Cutwater Spirits offers more than 20 varieties of canned cocktails. If convenience and delicious are in your wheelhouse, then Cutwater’s delicious Mai Tai should be on your to-drink list. Like being transported to your nearest tiki bar, this classic rum drink is on the sweet side, but that's pretty much par for the course in the world of tropical sips. You can get two stiff drinks from this one can. Another certifiable winner from this big canned cocktail brand is the tequila-based Paloma, full of flavor and plenty boozy. Find Cutwater Spirits at Drizly and at these retailers.
This Brazilian-based company produces three versions of Brazil's national cocktail, the caipirinha composed of lime, sugar and cachaca. The undeniable highlight of these canned caipirinhas is the delicious, flavorful mango version. Made from the Brazilian-indigenous sugarcane-derived spirit cachaça — a distant relative to rum — these canned cocktails bring the craft cocktail bar home.
Like Ikea and hygge, the Finnish Long Drink (known as "lonkero" in Finland) is a Scandinavian tradition we're lucky to have washed up on American shores. The national drink of Finland was actually developed for the 1952 Summer Olympics and has been a Finnish staple ever since. A zesty, Fresca-reminiscent combination of fizzy grapefruit juice and gin with a delicious tang of juniper, the Long Drink is a fantastic alternative to your go-to cider. It's fresh-tasting, without the heaviness of beer, making it a natural at summer barbecues or just a refreshing end to the day. The Long Drink comes in an especially nice cranberry version with more flavor complexity, a zero-carb and zero-sugar version, a traditional version and a Strong with 8.5-percent alcohol. All are delicious in their own way. For extra quarantine kicks, indulge in the great Finnish tradition of getting drunk in your undies "pantsdrunk" (aka kalsarikännit), also part of the Long Drink's clever marketing approach. Buy the Long Drink at Drizly or find a location to purchase close to you.
A big brand in the canned cocktail game, Absolut's pretty packaged cocktails put a fruity spin on favorite sips. Offerings include a low-calorie collection of herb and fruit-tinged vodka sodas (think rosemary and grapefruit), as well as a collection of cocktails including an ultra-refreshing Grapefruit Paloma, a Mango Mule and a Berry Vodkarita for those who never tire of endless variations on the classic margarita. Find them on Drizly.
The alcohol-free mixers from Avec (from the French, for "with") are light and low sugar and a nice alternative to the usual sugar-forward cocktail options. Avec is a Brooklyn-based brand co-founded by young entrepreneurs Dee Charlemagne and Alex Doman. Though not officially a canned cocktail, these mixers do add well-balanced flavor to the spirit of your choice, thereby convincing your friends you have certified mixology skills when all you've done is opened a can and poured. The Avec mixers feature exotic juices, botanicals and spices and current flavors include jalapeno and blood orange; grapefruit and pomelo; hibiscus and pomegranate; yuzu and lime and the simple — but my personal favorite — ginger (featuring pineapple juice, molasses and lime juice), which gives a spicy kick (and has only four grams of sugar), when blended with bourbon.