We all know that hard seltzers are having a major moment, but they’re only one part of the big picture.
According to Nielsen data, the ready-to-drink canned cocktails category pulled in over $105 million dollars in 2019, and sales are projected to climb even higher by the end of 2022.
When you’re looking for a portable option to bring to a pool or picnic, or simply want to enjoy a craft cocktail at home without having to play mixologist, these boozy beverages come up big.
There’s no shortage of options to choose from, either. These days you can find everything from a classic marg to a wine spritzer in a can.
So we decided to sip our way through some of the most popular ones out there in order to find the tastiest options for every palette. (Hard work, we know.) Here, are the 10 best premixed, canned cocktails we found and why they are worthy of adding to your summer shopping list.
Best Overall: Miami Cocktail Co. Organic Spritz
There were lots of things we loved about this line-up of five spritzes. One, they’re all organic, using only organic wines and fruit juices, rather than questionable alcohol sources and/or artificial flavors. Two, they take traditional cocktails and mix up the flavor profile ever-so-slightly while also turning them into a spritz. (Case in point: The Elderflower & Ginger Margarita Spritz and Grapefruit & Hibiscus Paloma Spritz were personal faves.) Three, there’s no added sugar—which is probably why these aren’t the least bit cloying—and contain just 110 calories per cocktail. Plus, they’re easy to find nationwide at big retailers such as Whole Foods and Total Wine.
Miami Cocktail Co. Organic Spritzes have a 4.2% ABV
Best Hard Seltzer Alternative: Loverboy Sparkling Hard Tea
Bravo fans probably recognize this brand, created by Kyle Cooke of Summer House fame, but you don’t need to be a reality TV buff to enjoy these effervescent twisted teas. In general, we found that one was enough of many of the canned bevies we tried. Not the case here. “This has the same easy drinkability of a hard seltzer, but tastes way better. I could drink these all day,” said one tester. (A low ABV, no sugar, and low calorie count doesn’t hurt either.) The tea comes in three flavors, but the Black Tea and Lemon was far and away the crowd favorite, drawing in rave reviews from all. Check out the brand’s newest addition, Loverboy Spritzes, too. These were also very well-received, particularly the summery mango peach flavor. FYI, you might have to wait a minute get your hands on any of the above—all of the Loverboy beverages have been selling out repeatedly—but everything should be fully restocked by the end of this month.
Loverboy Sparking Hard Tea has a 4.2% ABV; Loverboy Spritzes have a 6% ABV
Best Margarita: Cutwater Spirits Lime Margarita
Looking for a beverage to enjoy on Taco Tuesday? This was easily the favorite canned margarita we tried, tasting almost identical to the freshly-made ones we order at our go-to Mexican restaurant. It’s fresh and citrusy, and you can definitely taste the tequila…in a good way. With a 12.5 precent ABV it’s boozy for sure, so we choose to stretch out one can, pouring it in a glass over ice—so that we could also add a salted rim—but you do you. And if you don’t love margaritas, don’t worry. The brand boasts a whopping array of 18 different canned cocktails to date, and keep an eye out for frozen cocktail pops coming later this summer.
Cutwater Spirits Lime Margarita has a 12.5% ABV
Best Moscow Mule: Five Drinks Co. Moscow Mule
Per the name, all six cocktails from this brand contain only five (real, natural) ingredients, which are listed right on the front of the can. We enjoyed and would recommend the entire line-up, but it was the Moscow mule that really stood out, nailing the perfect balance of being both lime-y and ginger-y, and totally refreshing. We didn’t even miss the copper mug.
Five Drinks Co. Moscow Mule has a 9% ABV
Best Hard Soda: Bravazzi Hard Italian Soda
A trip to the Italian Riviera might not be in the cards this summer, but you can still channel that same energy by sipping on one of these. Inspired by gourmet Italian sodas, these up the ante with cane sugar-based alcohol for a sweet and refreshing treat that’s ideal on a hot day. There are four citrus flavors—blood orange, grapefruit, lemon, and clementine—all of which our testers loved. Per the soda part of things, they’re definitely on the sweeter side, but don’t taste artificial at all. And if you really want to step up your game, you can even use one as a mixer. (Try combining the clementine flavor with some aperol—yum!) We also love that the small brand is entirely female-owned.
Bravazzi Hard Italian Soda has a 4.2% ABV.
Best Hard Kombucha: Luna Bay Booch
Look out for lots more boozy kombucha to hit the scene soon, but this one, from the first female-owned hard kombucha brand, is our current go-to. It contains real fruit, yerba mate tea, and probiotics, and is naturally fermented. So, of course you’ll feel super healthy while drinking it (it’s kombucha after all). Bonus points for the sophisticated flavor combos: Palo Santo Blueberry, Ginger Lemon, and Hibiscus Lavender. While the brand is only available in Illinois, California, and Colorado as of now, they are expanding rapidly, so keep your eyes peeled.
Luna Bay Booch has a 6% ABV
Best Punch: Beatbox Party Punch Pink Lemonade
Okay, this is technically a canned cocktail. Instead, consider it the equivalent of a (very) grown-up juice box. Sweet and tart, it packs a big ol’ boozy punch—one box is 11.1 percent ABV, so just keep that in mind as you sip. That being said, it’s perfect to split with a friend, and also delish blended with ice and transformed into an alcoholic slushy. (There are four other flavors available, though our testers found the Pink Lemonade to be the best, hands down.) Along with the individual sizes, it also comes in a party-ready, five-liter size that’s begging to be dumped into a vintage punch bowl.
Beatbox Party Punk Pink Lemonade has a 11.1% ABV
Best Gin-Based Gimlet: Two Chicks Sparkling Apple Gimlet
TBH, it was the stunning floral packaging, more akin to pretty wallpaper than something on a cocktail can, that first caught our eye. But the flavor delivers, particularly with this option, which is choice for gin fans. Refreshing gin is balanced with apple, cucumber, and a touch of lime for a perfectly summery blend. (Worth noting: These are tall cans, and each one contains two servings.) And yes, as the name suggests, this is yet another female-owned brand.
Two Chicks Sparkling Apple Gimlet has a 5% ABV
Best Whiskey Cocktail: Southern Tier Distilling Co. Bourbon Smash
While we found plenty of vodka-, tequila-, and wine-based ready-to-drink cocktails out there, it was more challenging to find options with darker liquors—and ones that tasted good at that. Happily, this one checks all the boxes. While it is made with bourbon, it’s balanced out with ginger, mint, and lemon to keep it refreshing enough to still be a choice summer beverage. “This smells and tastes exactly like a cocktail I’d order at bar,” said one reviewer, an avid bourbon fan.
Southern Tier Distilling Co. Bourbon Smash has a 10% ABV
Best for Mocktails: Owen’s Craft Mixers
Our testers who wanted to take a pass on booze loved these individually bottled mixers, sipped solo or combined with (non-alcoholic) seltzer. “Most mocktails and mixers like these are way too sweet, but I love this,” said one. There are four carbonated options to choose from: Tonic Water + Lime, Ginger Beer + Lime, Mint + Cucumber + Lime, and Grapefruit + Lime, all of which garnered raves. And, yes, they also work great for their intended purpose when combined with the spirit of your choice. Each flavor mixer even has suggested best alcohol pairings helpfully noted right on the bottle.
Owen’s Craft Mixers contain no alcohol
Categorized: Food & Drink