In recent years, it seems almost every craft brewery and distillery of note has decided that bottling beer and distilled spirits isn’t enough for them. They’ve seen the popularity of cocktail culture and decided that a canned “cocktail” is a good idea. We put cocktail in quotes because an actual cocktail is fairly high in alcohol and typically made up of a base spirit with other ingredients added to attain a specific, appealing flavor profile. But with the rush to get canned cocktails to market and get in on the proverbial action of this trend (which seemed to start in 2016 with canned wine), many brands forgot the better characteristics of a good mixed drink — instead opting for overly sweet, low-alcohol beverages that resemble the gin & tonic and bourbon smash you know and love about as much as Boones Ferry resembles wine.
Amidst the flotsam and jetsam (and there’s a lot of garbage drinks in this sub-category), there are a few brands in the sea of blah that are actually pretty dang good. Here they are. Ignore all others or suffer the perils of a sugar crash and a crushing hangover.
Cocktail Squad Whiskey Sour
The Whiskey Sour is one of the most beloved of all classic cocktails and it’s pretty hard to mess up. This simple mixed drink consists of whiskey, lemon juice, gomme syrup (pretty much simple syrup with gum Arabic added to it), and, if you’re down for it, an egg white.
Tasting Notes: Boulder, Colorado’s Cocktail Squad doesn’t use fake bourbon flavoring or random, strange ingredients. Its Whiskey Sour is made with handmade bourbon, pressed lemon and orange juice, and, just like your favorite whiskey sour, gomme syrup. The result is a creamy, smooth, rich bourbon flavor up front with the sweet, tart finish you’ve grown to expect. All this at 10 percent ABV.
Hochstadter’s Slow and Low Rock & Rye
We’ve previously written about Hochstadter’s Slow and Low Rock & Rye in our article about flavored whiskeys. But we’re mentioning it again because, while it’s a flavored whiskey, it’s also a premade cocktail. It can be purchased in a 750ml bottle or in a handheld 100ml can that sits at a very potent 84 proof.