These Canned Cocktails Are Perfect For Summer Drinking

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jun 27, 2017 3:10PM

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Cutwater Spirits Three Sheets Rum (at the beach!). Photo by Leigh Kunkel.

By Leigh Kunkel

For so many years, we looked across the Atlantic with envy. Not because England was home to both the Beatles and the Spice Girls, or because of Queen Elizabeth’s amazing hats, but because of their grocery stores. British grocery stores are home to literally dozens of varieties of canned cocktails, from elderflower gin and tonics to mojitos, and we here in the U.S. were sorely lacking.

Not anymore, though. Cutwater Spirits, the recently relaunched division of San Diego’s Ballast Point, has finally given us what we need: strong booze, good mixers, and aluminum cans. And they're now available in Chicago. But can they possibly be any good? We tried all of them to find out.

Though several companies have made forays into the prepared cocktail market, including Chicago’s own Crafthouse Cocktails, these individual-sized mixed drinks are still a revelation. You can take them to the pool! To the beach! To a barbecue! With no glass and no leftovers, you’re finally free to sip a great rum and Coke, no sticky Malibu bottle required.

The drinks come in four flavors (and there’s a whole separate line of flavored vodka sodas), which we, as serious journalists, have undertaken the task of drinking.

Old Grove Gin and Tonic
The lowest ABV of the bunch at 4%, the gin and tonic is still our unofficial winner. Cutwater’s own grapefruit-cucumber tonic (soon to be available on its own) is lovely, giving the cocktail a bright, delicate flavor that doesn’t require any additional lime. And for those (crazy) people who think they don’t like gin, it’s light on the juniper, so this just might be the drink that converts you.

Three Sheets Rum and Cola
A drink that we ordinarily wouldn’t reach for on our own, the rum and cola was a pleasant surprise. Cutwater’s hundred-percent sugarcane spirit and Mexican-style cola is bold and balanced, with just the right amount of sweetness. And even with the strong flavor of the cola, the rum still shines through.

Three Sheets Rum and Ginger
A good ginger beer can make or break a drink, and Cutwater’s custom formula (again, available soon) is perfect: spicy and warm, it makes a perfect contrast when served chilled over ice. The rum is slightly less prominent than in the rum and cola, but still complements the mixer perfectly, making North Avenue Beach feel more like Montego Bay.

Fugu Spicy Bloody Mary
Is there anything more satisfying than a good Bloody Mary? It appears not, since sales of Cutwater’s Spicy Bloody Mary Mix are already soaring. The base has a kick, though those who prefer their spices of the eye-watering variety will probably want to add a dash of hot sauce, and a distinct bitterness due to the inclusion of Ballast Point’s brown ale in the mix. The cocktail, made with the distillery’s corn-based Fugu vodka, is already well-balanced, so if you’re serving it over ice, best to drink it quickly before it gets watery.

Where To Find Them in Chicago

North Side
Ezra’s - 1128 W. Armitage Ave.
Rayan Liquor and Deli - 4553 N. Clark St.
Rogers Park Social - 6928 N. Glenwood St.

West Side
Armanetti - 515 N Western
The Noble Grape - 802 N. Bishop St.
Arcadia Foremost - 3301 W. North Ave.

South Side
Liquorama - 4430 S. Kedzie Ave.
Kimbark Beverages - 1214 53rd St.

Suburbs
Evanston 1st Liquors - 1019 Davis
The Standard Market - 333 E Ogden; 1508 Aurora