The cans: Cutwater Spirits, $9.99 per four-pack
The back story: So, you’re stuck at home in full pandemic mode and desiring a cocktail (or two). It’s not exactly the time to be fussing with finding all the proper ingredients at your local market or liquor store. You need something quick, easy and tasty.
Enter Cutwater Spirits.
The California-based brand, launched in 2016, is an emerging one in the booming canned cocktail (or ready-to-drink) category. It was started as part of Ballast Point Brewing, a craft beer maker, but when the brewer was sold, the cocktail component was not part of the deal. That left master distiller Yuseff Cherney and sales exec Earl Kight free to develop it on their own.
The idea behind the brand was simple: to make a canned cocktail with real spirits — as in vodka, gin, rum, tequila and whiskey. Many ready-to-drink offerings on the market are flavored malt beverages — essentially, generic alcohol products with flavors that help them mimic a cocktail. Cutwater’s other distinguishing factor was to offer a solid variety of drinks: Currently, the brand offers 18 varieties, from a Spicy Bloody Mary to a Whiskey Lemon Tea.
So far, the concept seems to be catching on: The brand says it enjoyed triple-digit annual sales growth in 2019. Some of its varieties, such as the Tequila Lime Margarita, saw sales spike by more than 200%.
What we think about them: We’ve generally found canned cocktails to be too sweet and artificial-tasting. Not Cutwater. These are pretty much the kind of quality cocktails you’d expect to enjoy at a decent bar. We’re partial to the Vodka Mule (aka the Moscow Mule), which has the proper ginger-y kick. The newest offering is the Tequila Soda, which is just what it says — tequila and soda, with a hint of lime. We also like the fact the drinks are shelf-stable — it’s a cocktail you can keep in your “pandemic pantry” and just add ice or chill quickly when you’re ready to sip.
How to enjoy them: These drinks can be had straight out of the can. But the brand says you should feel free to dress them up as you please — say, by adding condiments to the Bloody Mary (Cutwater offers both a spicy and mild version of the popular cocktail). And you may not even need head to the supermarket to purchase Cutwater. Depending on where you live, the drinks can be ordered online through Drizly or ReserveBar.