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Ready to drink, or RTD, cocktails have been around for a few years now but they have really taken off over the past six months as bars and restaurants have been forced to close during the pandemic. This trend doesn’t seem like it will go away once things get back to normal, so many bars, distilleries, and even individual bartenders are coming up with their own unique takes on canned cocktails. The focus of this growing category is on natural ingredients and flavors that are unique but still familiar. Not everyone has a fully stocked bar at home, or the time and energy to make a cocktail at the end of a long day, so RTD drinks provide a quick and easy way to relax and enjoy an adult beverage. Here are some of the best canned cocktails on the market right now.
San Diego’s Cutwater Spirits makes gin, whiskey, vodka, and other spirits, and uses them in its lineup of canned cocktails. The range is impressive, from an elevated riff on a Long Island Iced Tea, to a refreshing Rum Mint Mojito, to the brunch-ready Spicy Bloody Mary. For dessert, try the Horchata Cold Brew, made with horchata vodka and cold brew coffee.
To buy: $13/four-pack, drizly.com
Dante x F!ve Drinks Co.
Five Drinks Co. teamed up with NYC’s Dante, voted world’s best bar in 2019, on these canned cocktails that were released this fall. There are three options available: Summer Spritz, combining cucumber, elderflower and citrus with gin; Americano, a classic mashup of amaro, vermouth, bitters, and soda water; and a simple Gin & Tonic. F!ve Drinks also has six other RTD cocktail options available.
To buy: $14, buyfivedrinks.co
Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock and Rye
While most canned cocktails clock in at about 10 percent ABV, Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock and Rye is an 84 proof mini Old Fashioned. It’s made with rye whiskey, orange, honey, bitters, and a little bit of rock candy. This last ingredient is said to be a throwback to saloons of the 19th century, when drinkers would sweeten their whiskey with this sugary treat.
To buy: $25/four-pack, totalwine.com
These canned whiskey cocktails are made by Indianapolis-based distillery West Fork Whiskey. Cold Hamer uses the distillery’s Old Hamer Bourbon in two different cocktails, both simple and not overly sweet. The Highball is a crisp mix of bourbon, soda, and lemon, while the Snapback is a spicy mix of bourbon, lime, and ginger.
To buy: $12/four-pack, drizly.com
Social Hour was created by bar industry veterans Julie Reiner and Tom Macy. There are three canned cocktails available, two of which use spirits from Brooklyn’s NY Distilling Company. The Gin & Tonic uses Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin, the Whiskey Mule contains Ragtime Rye Whiskey, and the Pacific Spritz combines a rosé wine blend from the Finger Lakes with aperitivo liqueur and passion fruit and grapefruit flavors.
To buy: $20/four-pack, socialhourcocktails.com
You & Yours Distilling
You & Yours Distilling is another San Diego company making spirits and canned cocktails. The distillery’s gin and vodka can be found in simple drinks in a variety of flavors: a classic or blood orange gin & tonic, Cranberry Vodka Soda, and the newest, Meyer Lemon Vodka Soda. These are simple drinks with bright flavors that are worth checking out.
To buy: $15/four-pack, youandyoursdistillingco.square
The best thing about Volley is its simplicity—each drink contains just juice, seltzer, and tequila. They are not terribly sweet and you can actually taste the 100 percent blue agave tequila in the mix. There are four flavors available: Zesty Lime, Spicy Ginger, Sharp Grapefruit, and Tropical Mango. The brand recommends shaking these drinks before drinking, as the organic juice tends to settle at the bottom of the can.
To buy: $12/four-pack, drinkvolley.com
Cardinal Spirits has three canned cocktails available, each using vodka as a base spirit. The Vodka Soda is simple and clean, while two takes on the Moscow Mule liven things up—the Bramble Mule combines raspberry and hibiscus with ginger, and the Maui Mule pairs passion fruit with ginger.
To buy: $4/can, warehousewinesandspirits.com
LiveWire is a bartender-focused canned cocktail brand that is collaborating with different mixologists on each release. The current lineup consists of Heartbreaker (Aaron Polsky—vodka, grapefruit, ginger), Honeydew Collins (Joey Bernardo—gin, honeydew, coconut), and Golden God (Aaron Polsky—rye whiskey, brandy, green tea). Look for more on the way in the coming months.
To buy: $19/four-pack, warehousewinesandspirits.com
The focus of Brooklyn’s St. Agrestis Spirits is on amaro, so the bottled and canned cocktails they make follow suit. There’s a Negroni that keeps things local, using St. Agrestis Inferno Bitter, house-made vermouth and gin from Brooklyn’s Greenhook Ginsmiths (which has its own canned Gin and Tonic available). There’s also a Spritz that combines St. Agrestis Paradiso Aperitivo, sparkling wine and sparkling water to check out. The Negroni also comes in a bag-in-box format, equivalent to 20 drinks.
To buy: $20 - $25/four-pack, stagrestis.com
Empirical is a self-described “flavor company” based in Copenhagen. The company distills its own spirits with quirky and political names like “The Plum, I Suppose” and “F--- Trump and His Stupid F------- Wall.” Now two new canned cocktails are available here in the U.S., made using beet molasses spirit and simply called Can 01 and 02. 01 combines toasted birch with pomelo zest and milk oolong, while 02 uses sour cherry, walnut wood, and young pine cone as its flavors.
To buy: $45/four-pack, empirical.co
Novo Fogo Sparkling Caipirinha
Novo Fogo makes cachaca, a Brazilian spirit similar to rum that is made from sugarcane juice. It’s also a core ingredient in the caipirinha, which the distillery now has canned versions of. There are three flavors available—lime, passion fruit, and mango. Each is made using the distillery’s own cachaca, along with other natural ingredients.
To buy: $20/four-pack, novofogo.passionspirits.com