We Tried 12 Classic Cocktails from a Can, and A Few Took Us By Surprise
Warning: These are dangerously drinkable.
When we first came across Cutwater Spirits’ canned cocktail line, we were excited by the concept (portable, pool- and beach-friendly cocktails, people)—but a little hesitant. How would a cocktail from a can compare? But upon opening our box of cocktails, we were instantly drawn to the very cute cans. Based on looks alone, these definitely seemed like the type of thing we’d be down to toss in our cooler for a day spent by some body of water. Of course—it’s what’s inside that counts.
The California-based liquor company sells their own brands of rum, vodka, gin, whiskey, herbal liqueur, cocktail mixers, and canned cocktails. You can buy a pack of four 12-ounce cocktail cans for $12.99 to $14.99, depending on the market. Availability varies by state, but retailers that carry Cutwater Spirits’ canned cocktails include Bevmo, Total Wine, and Target (check out their website for more info). The mixers and liquors used in each can o’ cocktail are also available for individual purchase.
So, what kind of cocktails are we talking here? The cans range from a spicy bloody Mary to a refreshing rum and ginger, so there’s truly a can for everyone. But that’s the thing—everyone has different tastes when it comes to cocktails. Which made for an interesting tasting discussion. Though our tasting panel did their best to try every flavor with an open mind/palate, it became clear that some people just don’t enjoy certain liquors/cocktails. That said, here’s what we thought.
The Ones We’ll Skip
Maybe inexpensive tequila reminds us of college a little too much, but none of the tasters were fans of the canned margarita or paloma. The paloma came off a little too potent for our taste. The margarita was also way too tequila-forward for this crowd, and we collectively agreed we wouldn’t pick these up a at a pool party.
If you’re a bloody fan these cans are definitely for you. Cutwater crafts a spicy and a mild bloody Mary mix you can buy by the bottle. If you’re a little lazy (no judgement) you can also buy them pre-mixed with their Fugo vodka and canned for convenience. Tasters who like a bloody were totally into the flavor of the spicy version. Though the mild version was perfectly acceptable, it tasted more like canned tomato juice than a cocktail. We had a good time cracking jokes about what scenario might call for drinking a canned bloody Mary—but that’s really up to you.
Cutwater’s 99 line boasts three flavored vodka sodas with zero sugar, zero carbs, and 99 calories per can. Staffers agreed the flavors were reminiscent of a spiked La Croix, and if you dig that—you’ll love these. Our favorite of the bunch was the lime flavor, which wasn’t particularly strong and refreshingly similar to a typical lime seltzer. Our second favorite was the cucumber variety, which tasted similar to sparkling cucumber water. Tasters thought it might be better as an addition to top off a punch, but overall it was easy to drink. The last flavor, grapefruit, didn’t quite hit the mark with our staff. The beverage smelled far more delightful than it tasted, as it was fairly bland. We’ll skip that one this season.
Honorable Mention: Whisky Highball
Cutwater’s brand of Black Skimmer bourbon blends nicely with house-made soda and a touch of mint. The flavor is as old school (and safe) as cocktails get. Just know—It’s very whisky-forward, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Honorable Mention: Gin & Tonic
The house-made tonic water brings out flavors of grapefruit and cucumber, and is a bit sweeter than average. If you can take the sugar—this is a true winner. Topped with Old Grove London Dry Gin (made in California), it’s a sweeter take on one of our favorite cocktails wrapped up in a neat little can for convenient packing.
Honorable Mention: Vodka Mule
Cutwater makes their own ginger beer—and it’s freaking delicious. In fact, it was some editors’ favorite element of this entire tasting. The blend of Fugo vodka with ginger beer, a splash of bitters, and a little lime makes for a pleasant canned take on a Moscow mule. That said, our staff was a bit divided on this one. Those of us who are self-proclaimed Moscow mule lovers felt the drink was a tad sweet—but overall delicious. Those who aren’t so into the Moscow mule thought the ginger was a little too overpowering.
Runner Up: Rum & Ginger
Did I mention how much some of us love this ginger beer? The spicy, yet sweet fizzy ginger pairs perfectly with their Three Sheets white rum. Tasters agreed the cocktail offered a nice amount of fizz, and though the ginger was super powerful, the can was balanced enough for easy sipping.
Our Favorite: Rum & Cola
It’s the classic drink that sort of tastes like your 21st birthday, but in a tolerable way, and Cutwater Spirits does it right. Using their Three Sheets white rum and house-made cola, it’s the perfect, simple summer cocktail. The cola-to-rum ration was spot on, and staffers unanimously agreed it was something they’d sip on. Sure, we can all just pour a shot of rum into a slightly emptied can of cola—but who wants to bother with that while packing for the pool? Not I.