The Best Canned Cocktails, According to a Cocktail Competition Judge

Think canned cocktails are super-sweet, low-quality drinks? Think again! There’s a new crop of canned cocktails that have complex flavor profiles and use high-quality spirits.

by Vidya Rao | April 27, 2021

A weekend getaway with friends, an afternoon at the beach, a picnic at the park or even just hanging out in your backyard—there are times when having a cocktail would be nice, but bringing your home bar with you is not an option. These times call for canned cocktails.

Serious cocktail lovers would have scoffed at canned cocktails in the past, with their saccharine-sweet, one-note flavor. But much like canned wine, canned cocktails have evolved into drinks that are truly enjoyable, with complex flavor profiles and high-quality spirits. And customers are noticing: driven by the pandemic and bar closures, the canned cocktail industry had a $25 billion valuation in 2020.

“Just a few years ago a canned margarita tasted like fake lime,” says food and drinks writer Virginia Miller. “Now, it’s just shocking how much more natural the citrus is, how well it plays with the carbonation, and how the sweetness level has gotten much more balanced.”

Miller has judged some of the biggest cocktail competitions in the U.S. and around the world. For the last five years, she has specifically judged the ready-to-drink category that includes canned cocktails. More highly regarded mixologists and distilleries are coming out with their own canned cocktail lines, Miller says, paving the way for some exciting grab-and-go mixed drinks that go beyond the standard gin and tonic or margarita.

“This is where this category can keep getting really interesting. How do I get those cocktails in a can that a really gifted bartender can make, but are very tricky to make at home?” she says.

Luckily, brands are answering the call. Here, Miller shares some of her favorite canned cocktail options, all of which can be ordered online at a price more affordable than ordering from a bar.

Who says a fancy cocktail can’t come from a can?

Novo Fogo

“More and more distilleries and spirit companies are doing their own canned cocktails,” says Miller. “And I like that because I know already that there’s a good base to it.” Novo Fogo, a Brazilian cachaça distillery, is one of her favorites doing canned cocktails right now. “Novo Fogo is one of the great brands, and their recent line of canned cocktails is fabulous,” she added. The brand makes sparkling caipirinha canned cocktails in three flavors: lime, passion fruit and mango. The perfect drink to take your taste buds on a vacation when you can’t actually get away!

The Best Canned Cocktails, According to a Cocktail Competition Judge
EatingWell | April 27, 2021