When photograph’s of shadow home secretary Diane Abbott sipping an M&S Mojito circulated the internet last year, several stores sold out of the drink. Some news outlets described the drink’s sudden wave of popularity as a “frenzy”, while canned cocktails have even been added to the basket of goods the U.K. statistics office uses to calculate inflation.
Though canned cocktails seem to grow in popularity each Summer, the ready-to-drink offerings are still subject to a less than favourable reputation. Typically aggressively sweet, created with an excessive amount of sugar in hope of making the drinks at least remotely palatable. A number of household name spirit brands and supermarkets’ offerings were once the best of a bad bunch, prized for their convenience – easy to transport, to drink in the park, at barbecues, parties, on the train.
Thanks to the craft beer movement, in part, a whole new wave of quality canned cocktails have emerged, with consumers happy to pay for quality canned drinks. Over the next few years, IWSR predicts hard seltzers will likely witness the highest growth rate within the UK’s RTD category, with a forecast volume growth of 71.7% from 2019 to 2024.
The government’s imposed lockdown and closure of restaurants and bars in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has also inspired a clutch of bars to continue operating, canning their own bar-quality cocktails. While pre-mixed drinks don’t quite match the experience of visiting your favourite bar and having your drink expertly made to order, good quality canned cocktails can act as an ideal stop-gap. While M&S Mojitos are fine, these are the best canned cocktails money can buy.
East London Liquor Co.’s Ready-To-Drink Range
New from the east London distillery, East London Liquor Co.’s canned cocktail range comprises the distillery’s award-winning spirits with natural fruit extracts and juices, using no artificial sweeteners, colours, or preservatives. Available in cases of 12 cans, the range features four simple cocktails: a grapefruit gin and tonic, alongside a low alcohol (0.5 percent ABV) version; rum with ginger and a hint of red chilli; and – best of all – East London Liquor Co. British Wheat Vodka with tart rhubarb soda, described as “a kind of Collins in a can”. They’re also ridiculously accessible, priced at £2 per can. All are available to order from eastlondonliquorcompany.com, or from Whole Foods UK.
Ace+Freak Canned Cocktails
An all-natural range of premium canned cocktails, Ace+Freak was launched by bartender Tom Soden, co-founder of bars such as Nine Lives and The Gunmakers in Clerkenwell. Producing cocktails with the highest regard for flavour, quality, and sustainability, the Ace+Freak range uses sustainably sourced ingredients, using no additives. Striving to reduce their carbon footprint, all of the brand’s juices, wines, and spirits used are sourced from Europe, packed into lightweight cans. Drinks include the likes of watermelon and cucumber sangria; and a refreshing elderflower and mint spritz. Further information can be found at aceandfreak.me.
Now available for home delivery, Suffolk-based Niche Cocktails has a prominent focus on bar-quality cocktails, made using natural ingredients. Born out of a passion to produce high quality pre-mixed cocktails, the brand’s range features a collection of cocktails, including a mojito enlivened with matcha, served in a 250ml slim can; and two of the UK’s first 150ml can shorts, a whisky sour with Manuka honey and a whisper of caramel, and a very good take on a classic Old Fashioned. Using an undisclosed bourbon whiskey, the Old Fashioned has an ideal sweet-bitter ratio, complete with some Italian blood orange. Further information can be found at nichecocktails.co.uk.
Porter’s Gin Hippy Fizz
Aberdeen-based Porter’s Gin, has canned one of its most popular cocktail recipes, now available for home delivery. Created by Brand Ambassador Jack Wareing, Hippy Fizz is a highball cocktail with a tropical base of pineapple shrub and malted passionfruit, joined by Porter’s Gin, which is cold distilled with botanicals such as pink peppercorn and Buddha’s hand citrus. Further information can be found at portersgin.co.uk.
Empirical Canned Cocktails
Self-proclaimed ‘flavour company’, Empirical has launched an artist collaboration project with London-based Toby Evans, producing two new canned cocktails. With cans designed by Evans, the Copenhagen-based distillery’s CAN 01 feature’s a slightly carbonated concoction of whole milk oolong tea, toasted birch, and green gooseberry. CAN 02, on the other hand, comprises sour cherry, blackcurrant buds, young pine cone, and walnut wood, which provides further depth. Further information can be found at shop.empiricalspirits.co.
LONG SHOT Hard Seltzers
Blending fruit, sparkling water and alcohol, LONG SHOT hard seltzers are inspired by the “light, refreshing and full of flavour” hard seltzer trend popular in America. While many options are packed with artificial ingredients and flavourings, LONG SHOT’s hard seltzers are each made with natural ingredients such as grapefruit; strawberry and rhubarb; and raspberry and blackcurrant. They’re also gluten-free, suitable for vegans, and packed in environmentally-friendly cans. Further information can be found at longshotdrinks.com.
BACARDÍ Ready-To-Drink Canned Cocktails
In response to the increase in demand for ready-to-drink cocktails, BACARDÍ – the world’s most awarded rum – has relaunched its range of canned cocktails. With new can designs, the canned cocktails are available in four flavours. BACARDÍ’s mojito is, of course, included, with the classic cocktail voted the UK’s favourite cocktail in lockdown, according to research conducted via an internet poll by Perspectus Global. Elsewhere, the rum brand’s raspberry spritz is fruity and gloriously refreshing, while both the BACARDÍ Rum & Cola and BACARDÍ Spiced & Cola are solid takes on simple classics. All four ready-to-drink cans are available from Sainsbury’s.
6 O’Clock Gin
Bristol-based 6 O’clock Gin has expanded its range of canned drinks, with the introduction of two new fruit-forward expressions, plus a light alternative to their classic London Dry and tonic. Using carefully selected botanicals to produce its spirits in small batches, the gins are precisely paired with thoughtful flavour combinations. The new Damson & Ginger ready-to-drink expression, for instance, is rich and lightly spicy; the Exotic Orange Gin and Tonic is a refreshing, cooler-style drink; while ‘Light’ simply pairs 6 O’Clock London Dry with premium light tonic water. Further information can be found at 6oclockgin.com.
Dalston’s Hard Seltzers
In response to a global trend and constantly growing demand, East London-based Dalston’s Soda Co has launched a new Hard Seltzer range. New low-calorie alcoholic seltzers include grapefruit and rhubarb, with real squeezed fruit flavours, both at 4 per cent abv and with fewer than 90 calories per can. Unlike most US Hard seltzer brands who use a fermentation process, Dalston’s have taken direction from their existing fan base, who enjoy mixing their current range of seltzers with premium spirits such as gin or vodka at home. Further information can be found at dalstons.com.
White Claw Hard Seltzer
Having redefined a whole new category in alcoholic beverages, White Claw Hard Seltzer launched in the UK last year, following the brand’s unrivalled success in the US. Created by Ireland-based Mark Anthony Brands International in 2016, White Claw Hard Seltzer uses only sparkling water blended with triple distilled alcohol and a hint of natural fruit flavour. With no artificial sweeteners and low in both calories and carbohydrate, White Claw is available in four flavours in the UK: Raspberry, Black Cherry, Natural Lime, and just released Mango. Further information can be found at whiteclaw.com.
Berczy Alcoholic Sparkling Water
Named after Berczy Park in Toronto, where the founders tried hard seltzers for the first time, Berczy is a new alcoholic sparkling water brand. Offering light and refreshing hard seltzers, each can contains just 75 calories, made using fresh fruit and no additives or chemicals. Each of the brand’s three flavours are low in sugar, including the likes of lemon and lime, peach and raspberry, or (best of all) passionfruit and turmeric. The brand’s range of canned cocktails are also vegan friendly and gluten-free, while – in addition to the cans being infinitely recyclable – five percent of profits are also donated to environmental charities.
Berczy is available from berczydrinks.com and Amazon, RRP £2.30, 250ml.
Standing for ‘Mix Of Total Happiness’, MOTH offers a selection of four canned cocktails, focussing on the classics, made using high quality ingredients. The MOTH Margarita, for instance, features triple sec, lime juice, and Tequila Enemigo, ideally poured into a martini glass with a salted rim; the MOTH Espresso Martini combines cold-brew coffee liqueur with Wood Brothers vodka; while the MOTH Negroni is made with amaro, Tarquin’s gin, and Asterley Bros. vermouth. Delicious from the can, but ideally served over ice, the MOTH Old Fashioned, on the other hand, is made with Bob’s Bitters, sugar, and English whisky from The English Whisky Company.
MOTH cocktails are available from Waitrose, from £3.99 per can. Further information can be found here.
This article was updated on Thursday 25th February, 2021.