If there’s one thing that should be ubiquitous at BBQs, park hangs, weekends at the lake, and beach jaunts, it should be canned cocktails. Toting along a complicated mess of liquor bottles is nonsensical and batching a tipple is great except you lose the luxury of variety. Make life easier—and tastier—by stocking up on the best canned cocktails that perfectly replicate the classics.
This segment of the alcohol industry has boomed in recent years, with the last year alone seeing established brands and newcomers throwing their boozy hat into the ring. Think of it as the 2021 version of the almost-as-recent explosion of hard seltzers, the difference being these canned concoctions offer flavor profiles tasty enough to satisfy any discerning cocktail connoisseur.
Just note, unlike the relatively tame alcohol by volume (ABV) of most hard seltzers—which hover around 5 percent ABV, or close to the standard amount in beer—these are truly cocktails in a can, meaning they have actual liquor in them (vodka, tequila, whiskey, rum) and ABV can sky rocket up past 12 percent in some mixes.
Exercise caution when imbibing. We suggest mixing any pre-mixed cocktails that are over 8 to 9 percent ABV with some regular seltzer—which will also cut calories—and watch consumption closely. Cheers to slow summer sipping!
1. Cutwater Tequila Lime Margarita
This tart, refreshing quaff can rival the handmade margaritas you make at home. It’s sweetened with pure cane sugar, but clocks in at 360 calories and 12.5 percent ABV, so you might want to mellow with some seltzer water.
[$14 for 4-pack; cutwaterspirits.com]
2. Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic
Is there anything more refreshing than a G&T after a long day at the beach? This canned version of the British classic cocktail doesn’t disappoint. It has that bitter quinine kick of tonic coupled with zingy lemon and fresh botanicals. A light version is also offered that has the same ABV, 5.9 percent, but only 90 calories.
[$13 for 4-pack; bombaysapphire.com]
3. 10 Barrel Brewing Co. Bloody Mary
You can’t have a Sunday brunch without the savory, spicy, salty kick of a proper bloody Mary. Made from a secret family recipe passed down from a brewer’s grandmother, the 12-ingredient morning cocktail includes Tabasco, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. At 10 percent ABV, pair with a hot plate of fried chicken and waffles.
[$14 for 4-pack; 10barrel.com]
4. Reed’s Zero Sugar Classic Mule
After languishing in cocktail obscurity for a few decades, the always-refreshing Moscow mule has recently made a strong comeback on most cocktail menus. It could be the shiny copper mugs that sweat in the summer sun, but it’s most likely the perfect pairing of ginger and vodka. Reed’s, the legendary ginger beer purveyor, created this perfect homage to the classic, with spicy punch that doesn’t suffer from the dreaded artificial sweetener aftertaste.
[$11 for 4-pack; reedsmule.com]
5. Picnic Brunch Mimosa
Most boozy brunch folks are split between those who love a spicy bloody Mary and those who prefer the sweetness of a mimosa. Picnic Brunch’s version (they also make an excellent bloody) is a fizzy, citrusy delight that will please bubbly lovers. It has a helpful hangover-curbing 6.9 percent ABV and no added sugar.
[$13 for 4-pack; picnicbrunch.com]
6. Cocktail Squad Whiskey Sour
Whiskey lovers will dig this smoky, smooth, and sour cocktail inspired by the classic concoction. Clean, with just four ingredients, bourbon, lemon and orange juice, and gomme syrup, this boozy boy comes in at 10 percent ABV for a 12 oz can, which they smartly suggest serves two.
[$18 for 4-pack; cocktailsquad.com]
7. Monaco Vodka Sodas
Perfect for those who are a little more mindful of sugar and calories, these vodka sodas only have three ingredients, making them perfect for health-conscious imbibers. Choose between Tropical or Lemon Lime. Both contain two shots of vodka for a 9 percent ABV. They deliver a clean, refreshing taste—what every expertly made vodka soda should have.
[$11 for 4-pack; drinkmonaco.com]
8. Dashfire Martini
These tiny (3.4 oz) canned cocktails—available in six flavors, five showing up at 38 percent ABV—rival those made at the swankiest bars. We like the martini, which pairs lemon and lavender bitters with a splash of sherry to round out the vodka. The convenient size means you can have a quality cocktail anywhere you please.
[$7 per can; dashfire.us]