Although summer may be the usual season for outdoor drinking and fun with friends, our new ‘normal’ of socially distanced happy hours, outdoor dining, open air parties, and, well, everything else we used to do inside now outdoors has given us new reasons to enjoy ready-to-drink beverages. Cooler weather also means camping season, and choosing crushable cans means less trash to haul back home to be recycled. Our team tasted and tested, with the following canned drinks chosen as our favorite ready-to-drink cocktails, wines, and non-alcoholic beverages while we celebrate the great outdoors!
Made at their San Diego distillery, Cutwater has developed one of the best vodka sodas (aka, hard seltzers) we’ve tasted to date. Their Fugu vodka, a corn-based, 15-time filtered spirit is the base for these canned seltzers. Although they’re slightly higher priced than some brands ($20 for a 12 pack at Total Wine), the pay off is in Cutwater’s premium taste and quality, as well as only 99 calories. Grab a mixed flavor pack, featuring Cutwater Grapefruit Vodka Soda, Cutwater Lime Vodka Soda, and Cutwater Cucumber Vodka Soda. Cutwater is officially our favorite hard seltzer, to date, and one we plant to keep on hand for all our outdoor fall adventures!
Cutwater Spirits also recently launched their 19th cocktail in a can, a ready-to-drink Rum Mint Mojito canned cocktail, just in time for tailgating and outdoor entertaining. This newest offering pairs the distillery’s award-winning Cutwater White Rum with the classic Mojito cocktail base of pure sugarcane-based white rum with freshly muddled mint and lime juice topped with house made soda water. Unlike many canned mint cocktails that can taste metallic or fake, this canned cocktail is a refreshing, balanced, and vibrantly flavorful drink that’s just like the one you would order at your favorite bar. We can’t wait to try Cutwater’s other RTD creations, and are sure they’ll be part of our fall and holiday bar cart.
Created by Minnesota mixologist Lee Egbert and his wife, Dawn, Dashfire is a relatively new brand to the canned beverage scene, with six full strength craft cocktails that can be enjoyed straight from a chilled can or bottle, or served over ice. Although small, these canned drinks are serious craft cocktails! We thoroughly enjoyed Dashfire’s Bourbon Old Fashioned, a Fig and Cascara Manhattan, a rum and grenadine El Presidente, as well as the Elderflower Martinez, and a unique Lemon and Lavender Martini made with vodka and sherry that tasted more like a gin cocktail. Dashfire’s Chai White Russian was also surprisingly refreshing and not overly sweet, and like the rest of their canned drinks, made using local ingredients, bitters, and spices.
Created by Anheuser Busch, LQD is a new collection of premium malt beverages, including canned hard limeades, hard teas, and hard lemonades in sassy, colorful packaging.
LQD is made with natural ingredients and real fruit, with ingredients like coconut water and green tea. Each can of LQD is under 200 calories, contains no artificial ingredients or added sugar, and has an ABV of less than 6%. Flavors include a Hard Agave Limeade, Hard Passion Fruit Green Tea, and a Hard Peach Green Tea.
Made from 100% blue agave tequila, Volley’s new seltzer is ‘shaking up’ the hard seltzer category. Each canned drink is made with just three ingredients: seltzer, tequila, and organic juice. The cans say they should be gently shaken to mix the ingredients before opening, but we forgot to do so, and found that a bouncy boat ride was more than enough to ‘mix’ our canned drinks. Volley has also partnered with Leave No Trace, a non-profit that provides outdoor ethics resources, wildlife protection, and encourages recycling and proper trash disposal when enjoying the great outdoors.
Volley’s four flavors include: Zesty Lime, Spicy Ginger, Sharp Grapefruit and Tropical Mango. Each can is only 100-110 calories, and contains no added sugar.
The Best Canned Wines
No canned drink list would be complete without a few of our favorite wines. This year, canned wine has become to be our go-to beverage of choice for outdoor sipping, whether it’s for an impromptu socially distanced happy hour, while grilling, or while out relaxing on the boat. It’s also what we keep in the refrigerator for when friends stop by. To create a relatively contact-free experience, we set up a cooler with wine and ice in the yard, along with a bottle of hand sanitizer. Chairs are distanced at least 8 feet from each other, and single serve snack packs of cheese and nuts make for an easy nosh. Here are our picks for canned wines.
Bev is a self-described ‘made by chicks’ California canned wine portfolio, with three refreshing blends, including a lightly effervescent Rosé with bright notes of strawberry, raspberry, white peach and watermelon, a Sauvignon Blanc with notes of crisp green apple, white nectarine and a light, fresh, citrus finish, and a Pinot Grigio with light and refreshing notes of elderflower, pear, and a zesty grapefruit finish. Bev has 11.9% ABV, 0g of sugar, and only 3g of carbs.
We’ve already shared how much we like Bonterra’s Rosé in a can, but their Sauvignon Blanc is also one of our favorite California wines. With aromas of kumquat and white peach on the nose, this wine has delish flavors of green melon and citrus, with a subtle hint of grassiness and refreshing acidity for a crisp, clean finish. Bonterra’s wines come in both 750ml and the 250ml canned format, making it highly convenient for any outdoor activity.
A canned version of their bottled wines, Rosé All Day comes in three canned options – still, sparkling, and grapefruit spritz. The still and sparkling wines are made from Grenache grapes, and showcase an elegant aromatic nose of watermelon and strawberry, as well as a crisp, elegantly fruity finish.
The most surprising of all of the beverages we tasted, however, was the Rosé All Day organic spritz, with its fresh, tart grapefruit and rosé wine flavors. With less than 1 ½ grams of sugar, just 5% alcohol and only 75 calories per serving, it was incredibly refreshing, tasting just like fresh squeezed juice, and was a fabulous sipper to take on the water. We could seriously drink this spritz all year long, and it’s lower ABV makes it a great choice for any day drinking situation. Perhaps spritz martinis will be on the winter menu!
Non-Alcoholic Drinks and Seltzers
If you’re looking to take a break from the booze and want a drink with benefits, look no further than CarryOn, a new line of THC-free CBD sparkling waters from Ocean Spray Cranberries’ incubator, Lighthouse Innovation.
Available in two blends, Elevate and Descend, each contains vitamins C and E with no added sugar and only 10 calories per 11.5-oz can. Elevate is a sparkling grapefruit flavor that blends choline for energy and focus with 10 mg of CBD. Descend, a sparkling blueberry flavor is designed for relaxation, and contains L-Theanine for calmness and 20 mg of CBD.
If you’re planning a hike or shopping marathon, and an energy boost is what you need, check out the Limited-Edition Peach Vibe flavor from Celsius. With seven essential vitamins, zero sugar, no added artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, no aspartame (they use sucralose), no high fructose corn syrup, non-GMO and very low sodium, vegan and Kosher, Celsius Peach Vibe is the bubbly boost. Celsius says their drinks are clinically proven to accelerate metabolism, burn fat, burn calories, boost endurance and help build lean body muscle. Thanks to the guarana (which contains twice as much caffeine as in a coffee bean), we found that about half a can was the maximum amount needed for energy sans jitters.
GOJAI (pronounced ‘Go-Hi’) is a new organic, gently caffeinated sparkling water made from simple, clean ingredients like real fruit oils and organic, raw green coffee beans. One can contains approximately the same amount of caffeine as a half cup of coffee or a can of soda, but without any calories, preservatives or sugar. Green coffee bean extract has been known to improve mood and brain function, protects against heart disease, boost the metabolism, and may improve blood pressure and cholesterol. If you need a pick-me-up, you might want to try a green coffee bean-based drink as an alternative to that mid-afternoon cup of Joe.