by Wayne Allen Brenner - 11/8/21
So, okay, we’ve already acknowledged that nothing beats having a live bartender right there.
Like, some stylishly dressed, booze-knowledgeable citizen with a sharp mind and skillful hands – splashing up the spirits, muddling the mint, dashing in those bitters, finessing the ice and spanking the sprigs of freshly plucked thyme or whatever.
And you don’t even have to go out to a bar for such an experience, if you don’t want to – not when Austin’s got the likes of that RoadHaus from the Roosevelt Room or the affable squad of libation maestros from Cantaloupe Island waiting to make your home-based soiree dreams come true.
Still, it’s undeniable that canned cocktail technology has been advancing faster than … ah, faster than Big Elon and Li’l Jeffy racing for Mars, right? Or, if not precisely canned cocktail technology, then the spirit of elevated capitalism that inspires industrious people to make a living from what they do best.
And we’ve been looking around lately, as befits people engaged in journalism, and what we’ve seen is: What some people do best is provide the world with canned cocktails.
Here are five examples for your consideration:
There’s something about these little half-size cans that’s just … adorable, you know? But don’t be fooled: The cocktails from Atlanta’s Post Meridiem are powerful enough to make you forget the word “adorable” and, more to the point, they’re as tasty as they are powerful. Now, we’re not going to fact-check Post Meridiem’s claim that they’re the only canned cocktail company to include 100% real lime juice in their refreshing concoctions – reckon some competitor will step up with attitude, if there’s any doubt – so maybe it’s that natural, um, lime-ness that’s a big part of what makes these cocktails such a bright addition to an at-home happy hour. (And it’s not hard to grok what’s actually in each can: They’ve got the simple ingredients all bold and up-front on the outside.) In any case, yeah, the whole vibe of the brand’s Yacht Rock aesthetic shines through their offerings thus far. And, while you can often find a variety of Old Fashioneds and Margaritas conveniently surrounded by an aluminum vessel for easy top-popping from a number of different sources, you’ll be stoked to know that Post Meridiem also rocks a Vodka Gimlet, a Daiquiri, and a Mai Tai can – that last one, especially, a spot-on version of the original tiki classic.
Wait, did we say “tiki” …? Hold the phone. Hold my beer. Hold your, uh, seahorses, friend. Because Livewire is a canned cocktail company that’s got the exotica down like, ah, like some divine liquid version of Martin Denny’s complete discography, FFS. Los Angeles-based bartender Aaron Polsky has joined forces with a veritable pantheon of worldclass mixologists to unleash a growing salvo of fruit-forward elixirs that wouldn’t seem out of place among the wonderments of Austin’s own Tiki Tatsu-ya. Hell, one of the Livewire quaffs is Holy Tyger, conjured by NYC’s Shannon Mustipher – the woman who literally wrote the book on some excellent tiki actionand started the group Women Who Tiki. (So, what’s in this Holy Tyger? Listen: Bourbon, lime, coconut, lemongrass, Rockey’s liqueur, and Bittercube Jamaican No. 1 bitters.) And L.A.’s alchemical sorceress Yael Vengroff just Livewire-debuted her Crystal Shiso Mojito – Casa Magdalena rum, shochu, shiso, coconut, and Indian lime – which is intended to taste like, she says, “diamond skeletons and nine-inch glittering emerald heels.” [SPOILER ALERT: Two sips in, we’re not even thinking about arguing.] And there’s more, which you can easily see for yourself; but right here we’ll also note that frontman Polsky is personally responsible for Livewire’s Golden God, a sparkling blend of rye whiskey, brandy, apricot, green tea, and elderflower, sure to spice up an afternoon jam session before the house party even begins.
Well. Yes. Dashfire. Because there’s Old Fashioneds, and then there’s Old Fashioneds. And we’ve always championed Treaty Oak Distilling, where we encountered the freshly made apotheosis of that classic cocktail – and whose onsite bar program matches the brilliance of their whiskeys. But we’ve also noted how Old Fashioneds in ready-to-drink format can often (surprisingly!) strive with some success toward that goal. And now we’re further heartened to see that Lee and Dawn Egbert’s Dashfire company, a respected source of some of the best artisanal bitters to be visited upon a lucky industry, is also 1) in the canned cocktail business … and that, even though they’ve already got an impressive array of drinks in their lineup, what these longtime Minnesota-based creatives are rolling out for the holidays is 2) a gift pack of three distinct variations on the Old Fashioned: A classic bourbon with notes of orange and cherry; a cane & allspice; and a rye & ginger. (Yes, they all feature those acclaimed Dashfire bitters – that’s the point.) Also, this gleesome threesome comes in a fine Art Deco sort of packaging, too, so it’s pretty much perfect for gifting. Not that we’re suggesting that you shouldn’t treat yourself to a few of what they have to entice discerning palates with. We mean – who loves ya, baby?
Are you ready for this? Non-alcoholic canned cocktails with a touch of hemp to ’em? Of course you are. Even though you’re in Texas, where the puling babies among our legislature threw a hissy fit and declared Delta-8 to be too, like, naughtyor something for decent citizens to partake of … even though you currently live among the miscreants who elected such repressive, pleasure-fearing infants to a position of power … still, you are legally able to enjoy refreshing cocktails that boast broad-spectrum CBD and botanically derived aromatic terpenes. These Crisp & Crude cocktails are made right here in Austin – by a woman-owned company, too – howdy, Talia! – and let’s say it again: There’s no alcohol in them. These timely tipples are zero proof alcohol, but 100 proof plant-based flavor and mood-enhancing qualities. These liquid lovelies come with names like Gold Fashioned, Mellow Mule, Paloma Daydream, and OG Tonic – because it’s those alluded-to flavors that the drinks are inspired by – and they’re either at a store near you (Royal Blue’s got ‘em, for instance) or you can order directly through this internet thing we all enjoy so much.
Just when you’ve finished ooooohing over the smol, nigh-on kawaii sight of those Post Meridiem or Dashfire (or Tip Top) cans … just when you’ve gotten accustomed to the more usual-sized containers of Livewire deliciousness … along come these Clubtails – in flavors like Sex on the Beach, Sunny Margarita, Bahama Mama, Screwdriver, Long Island Iced Tea, etc – that are “crafted from a proprietary fermented malt base” that you might mistake for an actual, spirit-based cocktail recipe. And what they’re sold in is one-pint cans. Big ol’ things, indeed. Big ol’ things that are ready for what some might call swigging when it’s time to party hearty with your frat brothers or celebrate your tech start-up’s IPO, right? Or for any occasion, when what you feel like celebrating with – propriety or sophistication or whatever, be damned – is a cold, thirst-busting Clubtail straight outta Rochester, NY. Now available locally in your H-E-B or nearest convenience store.
PARTY CAN Oh, wait. Did we say that those Clubtails, at a mere one pint, were big …? Forgive us, Party Can: We’re so not worthy. We mean, they call themselves Party Can, but these sockdollagers are more like Party Kegs. Or mini-kegs, at least: At 1.75 liters per clever metal container, each filled with 12 separate pours that are 12-15% ABV, these ready-when-you-are beverages are the true beasts of Getting One’s Drink On. And there’s no “fermented malt base” going on here, mind you: These Party Cans pack real-deal, spirit-based classics like a Margarita, a “Cosmicpolitan” (reckon the passionfruit is what makes it cosmic), and, yes, even a bona fide Old Fashioned. None of which are going to make the bar staff at the Roosevelt Room or Hotel ZaZaor Nickel City, say, worry about their jobs at all; but which won’t disappoint your palate’s classic-cocktail-seeking mechanisms, either. (Is it damning with faint praise to say “This Old Fashioned isn’t quite Dashfire, but it ain’t small,” y’ think?) Final note: We like to say how everything’s bigger in Texas, right? Time to STFU, hoss: These shindig-rocking Party Cans come from Chicago.