There was a time when cans were the sole domain of beer. But then winemakers started putting their vintages in aluminum, and now the canned revolution has reached the world of cocktails. Some of the entrants to this new class of RTDs, or ready-to-drinks, are just as good as what you can get at your favorite watering hole, but in a convenient, recyclable, and discrete package. That said, not all canned cocktails are created equally (see: White Claw). So, we reached out to drinks experts across the country and asked them to tell us about the very best cocktails in a can. Here’s what they had to say.
The Best Canned Cocktail
Four of the experts we spoke to endorsed LiveWire, a line of cocktails from bartender turned entrepreneur Aaron Polsky, who spent a decade working in some of New York City’s best bars. “Each cocktail is the creation of a particular bartender who works with Aaron to translate their concept into the canned format,” says Chloe Frechette, a senior editor at drinks website PUNCH. “In addition to sourcing high-quality ingredients that taste great, LiveWire puts the bartender front and center and compensates them for their intellectual property, which is something that doesn’t happen enough in the bar world.” The Honeydew Collins, for example, is the brainchild of bartender Joey Bernardo of L.A.’s Harvard & Stone.
The Best Premium Canned Cocktail
At $45 for a four-pack (that’s $11 per can), Empirical Spirits’ cocktails certainly aren’t cheap, but they also can’t be beat for quality. “The company was started by two former fermentation specialists from Noma in Copenagen,” says Julian Kurland, a manager and spirits buyer at Domaine LA. “Can 02 features sour cherry, black currant buds, young pine cones, and walnut wood, so Empirical describes it as ‘the feeling of bounding through a Nordic pine forest during berry season.’ I can’t say I’ve had that experience, but this is the next best thing.”
The Best Specialty Canned Cocktail
Mezcal diehards will be delighted to hear that there’s an entire line of canned cocktails dedicated to the agave-born liquor. The California-based Elenita currently sells two flavors: a refreshing cucumber-lime-basil cocktail and a more fiery pineapple and jalapeño version. “They taste just like a bartender made them right in front of you while you were lying in a hammock on the beach in Cabo,” says Trevor Hoff, owner of L.A.’s The Liquor Fountain. “They’re not trying to make cocktails for every drinker, but if you like mezcal in your cocktail, you’re set.”
The Best Straightforward Canned Cocktail
If you’re in New York or New Jersey, Frechette suggests hunting down a four-pack from Social Hour Cocktails, founded by bartenders Tom Macy and Julie Reiner. They’re the creative minds behind award-winning Brooklyn bar Clover Club, and have come up with three cocktails in cans — gin-and-tonic, whiskey mule, and pacific spritz — using American-made liquors and ingredients. “Tom and Julie are two of the most fastidious bartenders in the business, and their attention to detail translates into their new line of canned cocktails,” says Frechette. The brand just launched, but check their Instagram for local availability.
The Best Canned Mocktail
If you’re currently enjoying the sober lifestyle (or are simply “sober curious”), mixologist John deBary suggests checking out the spritz from wellness startup Kin Euphorics. “Their canned offering is something I would recommend to those avoiding the sauce,” deBary says. (He also has his own line of nonalcoholic botanical drinks called Proteau.) Kin’s spritz is flavored with ginger, hibiscus, and citrus.
The Best Sparkling Canned Cocktail
Hoff of The Liquor Fountain is also a fan of Two Chicks, a line of canned cocktails founded by Meghan Hanna and Linda Cash. The attractive, flowery packaging and thoughtfully designed line of sparkling cocktails — including a canned vodka with pear and elderflower — have made them a hit. And at $16 for a four-pack, they’re affordable too. “It’s a very easy brand for us to sell,” Hoff says. “It seems like everything they are making is delicious.” If vodka isn’t your thing, the company also makes palomas, margaritas, gimlets, and a “new-fashioned.”
The Best Canned Spritz Cocktail
New York–based company St. Agrestis specializes in bottled and canned versions of Italian aperitivi, including Negronis and that beautiful creation known as the spritz. Former bartender and food and beverage professional Charlotte Porter calls their Paradiso Spritz, featuring a careful balance of citrus and herbs, truly “fabulous.” And at 12 percent alcohol by volume, you’ll definitely get a buzz off just one can.
The Best Japanese Highball Canned Cocktail
Anyone who loves highballs will want to grab a few cans of Hitachino, a canned whisky cocktail from Japan’s Kiuchi Brewery. “Most beer drinkers have had Hitachino White Ale, or “the beer with the little owl on it,” says Kurland of Domaine L.A. “What they don’t know is that Kiuchi Brewery has been making whisky since 2016 and last year began canning the whisky in a highball.” Kurland says that unlike the highball you might get at your favorite izakaya, the Hitachino is “more soda with a touch of whisky than whisky soda,” making it perfect for casual drinking.
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