Beyond Beer: The Best Canned Cocktails in 2021 - The Manual
by Pat Evans - 9/24/21
For the past several years, canned cocktails and ready-to-drink beverages trickled into the market.
In 2021, however, that trickle became a flood. Everywhere a drinker looks, they’re bound to find a brand new cocktail in a can. And the good news? They’re also getting better.
At this point, the ease of pouring out an already finely crafted cocktail out of a can is often matched by the quality. The only thing that might be missing is the relaxing effect of the ritual in making a cocktail.
With the rise of craft beer and hard seltzers, spirits companies are trying to make sure they keep up. Beyond the spirits companies jumping into the ready-to-drink category and giving consumers a choice of other cans to keep in their fridges, start-ups are just as eager to push their products into the wide world of beverages.
Check out our favorite canned cocktails.
Best Cocktails in a Little Can
Tip Top Proper Cocktails
A few years ago, canned cocktails almost were exclusively sparkling of some sort, hovering in the same range as heavy-ABV beers. They were often sweet and didn’t taste much like the cocktails they imitated. Pour one Tip Top Proper Cocktail into a rocks glass, and every perception you might have about prepackaged cocktails go out the window.
Two Stacks Dram in a Can
OK, so Two Stacks’ Dram in a Can isn’t really a cocktail. It’s literally just whiskey. But for someone looking for a quick, portable drink, a smooth Irish whiskey on the fly is pretty swell. It works in the same situations as any of the canned drinks on this page, in a perfectly discrete package.
Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock and Rye
While most canned cocktails tend to go for a lower ABV in favor of drinkability and sessionability, Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock and Rye canned cocktail takes it in the exact opposite direction (sort of). Coming in at 42% ABV, this re-creates the rock & rye cocktail of old, using rye whiskey, honey, navel orange, rock candy, and bitters for a sweet yet strong drink that’ll wake the senses up.
Dashfire Canned Cocktails
At this point, it’s almost a guarantee the cocktails pouring out of these small 100mL cans are going to be great. The packaging essentially says the cocktails were scientifically, and artfully, made to fit into the small can. Dashfire cocktails are well balanced and will please any palate they find.
Best Cocktails in a Bottle
Don Ciccio and Figli makes some of the finest herbal liqueurs in the United States — Washington, D.C., to be exact. The expansion into canned, and bottled, cocktails using those liqueurs was an easy move to make. The Negronis and Old Fashioneds are a perfect concoction to throw over ice and enjoy on a cool fall night.
Best Cocktails In Slim Cans
Traverse City Whiskey High Ball
In the northern tip of Michigan’s mitten, Traverse City Whiskey Co. is making some delicious whiskey. And while whiskey is often best enjoyed neat, sometimes a whiskey high ball really hits the spot. In a world of hard seltzers, how smart is it for a whiskey company to packaged a whiskey-seltzer cocktail? Pretty darn smart.
Monaco Craft Cocktail
Few of the early canned cocktail makers put their ingredients smack on the front of the can. But Monaco did. The cocktails are simple, generally classic takes on bartender classics. The company promises two shots in every 12-ounce can, so they’re a great bang for your buck, as well.
Tequila has been hot this summer, and the Superbird Paloma is a great way to jump in on the craze. Superbird is made in Mexico from 100% Blue Agave, so drinkers can rest easy. With real grapefruit and agave nectar, the quality outshines the hard seltzers on the market that so often have artificial after tastes.
Rogue Canned Cocktails
Rogue Ales & Spirits was one of the first craft breweries to pivot and push forward in the world of spirits. Its Rolling Thunder Whiskey is an excellent whiskey in its own right. But Rogue continued its product expansion with a lineup of creative canned cocktails. Fellow Oregon brewery 10 Barrel also has pushed into the cocktail game, with awesome examples of greyhounds and margaritas.
Novo Fogo Sparkling Caipirinha
Using the standard cachaça cocktail, the caipirinha, as its base, Novo Fogo’ssparkling iteration adds a jolt of carbonation to make the drink even livelier than it normally is. Fresh and zesty, a sparkling caipirinha is a perfect accompaniment to a barbecue, a hike, or really any event where fun is involved.
Best Traditional Cocktail from Scandinavia
Finnish Long Drink
The Long Drink quite possibly could be the most refreshing drink on the planet. The gin-based drink could pass as squirt, and ice-cold, doesn’t even taste like it has a hint of booze. The Long Drink also comes in zero sugar and strong and cranberry. It’s also a favorite of several famous investors, including actor Miles Teller and golfer Rickie Fowler.
Best Cocktails From Big Brands
A Dark ‘n’ Stormy is the perfect mix for a dark and stormy summer night — or any other time, for that matter. Primarily a rum maker, Goslings also makes a packaged ginger beer. The company took the next logical step and combined the two in a small, ready-to-drink, 8.4-oz can for your next spicy craving. This product release makes sense considering the brand owns the trademark on the name of the drink.
Rum does lend itself to sugar-forward cocktails, and for many, a canned cocktail likely already carries the misconception of sugar. For these, that’s OK. Bacardi is a big name in the liquor world and there’s good reason, it’s tried and true. These cocktails carry the same quality.