We’re going to be drinking a lot of canned boozy drinks in the near future.
A few years back Grand View Research, Inc. predicted the global canned alcoholic beverages market size would reach USD 13.4 billion by 2028, with an annual growth rate of 13.3%. “Canned alcoholic beverages are gaining popularity among consumers since cans are more convenient, portable and travel-friendly,” the report notes. “Moreover, these metal cans are less expensive as compared to glass bottles and have a considerably higher recycling rate than glass.”
While hard seltzers have gone through some hard times recently, spirits-based ready-to-drink cocktails have, in fact, kept the booze industry growing (well, that and tequila). So below, we’ve spotlighted a few across different spirits categories that we’ve liked over the past few years.
Note: This is certainly not a complete list. If you want more choices, we’ve got primers on canned whiskey cocktails, a non-alcoholic choice, a THC option, a sake spritz, canned wine and even straight Irish whiskey in a can. And obviously, there are bottled cocktails that are pretty great, too.
These ready-to-drink (RTD) tequila cocktails are available in Margarita, Spicy Margarita and Paloma flavors and continue the trend of tequila RTDs outshining almost all other canned drinks.
The idea behind Thomas Ashbourne is that each canned/bottled cocktail is tied to a celebrity (Sarah Jessica Parker, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Playboi Carti, etc.). So yes, Parker’s drink is a Cosmo, and now, Neil Patrick Harris has The After Hours, an espresso martini available both in a bottle and in cans. It’s rich and balanced, offering up hints of dark roast espresso beans, vanilla and dark chocolate, with just the right amount of kick (12% ABV).
The best designed of the tequila RTDs, this sparkling beverage (which features actress Shay Mitchell as the “Chief Brand Officer”) offers two standout flavors, Watermelon and an incredibly refreshing Blood Orange. Fizzy, light and citrusy (and not in a fake way).
While this RTD brand flashes a lot of healthy catchphrases (vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, “clean calorie”) their organic spritzes should appeal to anyone. Ridiculously great in hot weather, the brand offers everything from Rosé Bellini Spritz to a Grapefruit & Hibiscus Paloma Spritz.
Created by Clover Club’s Julie Reiner and Tom Macy, these bartender-crafted cocktails in a can include the Straight Rye Whiskey Mule, which emphasizes the ginger beer and citrus notes nicely alongside the rye’s peppery note, and the Prizefighter, which combines New York Distilling Company’s Ragtime Rye with flavors of peach (Massenez Crème de Pêche) and even a minty bitterness (Faccia Brutto’s Fernet Pianta). Note: While only a few of these canned drinks are whiskey-based, there is a brand new Bourbon Smash flavor we’re waiting to try, which utilizes Dickel bourbon as its base.
Tequila and Canned Cocktails Are Pretty Much Fueling the Booze Industry NowA year-end study on alcohol sales in the U.S. shows very few category gains — and some concern for Scotch, Cognac and gin fans
It turns out it takes a brewery (and distillery) to finally make a good vodka soda. The Blueberry Shrub RTD is light but flavorful. And brown spirits fans: The Cherry Bergamot Whiskey Sour is the rare summer-ready whiskey drink. Meanwhile, Dogfish Head’s new line of crushes is truly worthy of its name — both the Grapefruit & Pomegranate Vodka Crush and the Blood Orange & Mango Vodka Crush are almost too sessionable. Beware, in a good way (also, just get a variety pack and try all of them).
We’re sticking with cans here, otherwise, we’d highly recommend the St. Agrestis Negroni in a tiny bottle or the Boulevardier Bag-in-Box (basically, boxed cocktails). The Spritz, however, is a refreshing, herbal/citrus combo of the St. Agrestis Paradiso Aperitivo, sparkling Italian wine and sparkling water.
Described as the “first and only Asian American craft hard seltzer made with real, premium fruits and ingredients from Asia,” the brand has a limited-edition “Heritage” line that pays tribute to well-known Asian foods and is co-developed with New York-based chefs and owners of popular local restaurants. The Tamarind & Rice Paddy Herb release will be unlike any canned drink you’ll try now … and portends a promising and innovative future for the category.
One of the most eye-catching displays we saw at the recent Bar Convent drinks expo was this ready-to-drink newcomer, which utilizes “real ingredients” and interesting flavor combinations alongside the extremely fun retro packaging. The goal here? To create “the world’s most delicious, dad-bod-resistant cocktail in a can.” From our initial taste tests, these are sessionable and surprisingly subtle (can’t speak to the dad-bod part, however).
Empirical is a “flavor company” in Copenhagen that was launched in 2017 by two alumni (Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen) of Noma, a five-time winner of the World’s Best Restaurant. This free-form spirits company utilizes custom-built machinery and disregards geographical boundaries to create new types of alcoholic beverages. And they craft ridiculously unique canned boozy expressions that are (for lack of a better description) hard kombucha adjacent but honestly their own beast: CAN 01 (crafted with oolong tea, toasted birch and green gooseberry); CAN 02 (sour cherry, black currant buds, young pine cones and walnut wood); and CAN 03 (carob, fig leaf and lemon myrtle).
It was only last year when The New York Times called the Dirty Shirley the “drink of the summer” — basically, this is a canned, adult update on a Shirley Temple with a shot of dark cherry vodka. If you like any of the black cherry hard seltzers, this is a sweet step up in quality.
Taylor Fladgate has been crafting Port since 1692. And as a drink, white Port and tonic has been around since the 1970s. Utilizing a drier and lighter tonic, this one is a delectably sweet (but not too sweet) aperitif with beautiful citrus notes
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