2020 has been remarkable for a number of reasons, one of them being the relaxed alcohol sales laws. In an effort to beat back the economic beast that is COVID-19, restaurants are now allowed to sell their cocktails to-go. Not to be overshadowed, mixologists and entrepreneurs alike have ridden this wave of portable popularity and we are seeing more canned relaxation beverages hit the shelves than ever before.
With Thanksgiving and long – dare I say lonely – winter nights around the corner, this explosion of brand versatility couldn’t have come at a better time. Whether you’re headed to a bonfire with your #quaranteam or wassailing via Zoom, this list will have you bright and merry no matter what the rest of the year throws at you.
Ten years ago the idea of a canned cocktail would have made me balk, but today I’d argue that some of the best drinks you’ll find are in the grocery aisle. From relaxation beverages made with CBD and adaptogens (the hottest thing right now) and cocktails that’ll get you buzzy to nonalcoholic options that seriously taste like the real thing, here are our favorites for all the festivities to come:
Cutwater makes it to the top of the list (it took everything in us to resist the obvious pun) because they simply deserve to be here. The first brand that truly turned us on to the possibilities of cocktails in a can, their library is bigger than imagined with 18 current varieties just yearning to be sampled by you. Every time I try a new flavor, I’m shocked out how pretty damn good it is. Honestly, they make a better lime margarita than I do. My current favorite is their Rum Mint Mojito – a flavor I just tried that makes me feel like I’m poolside in Palm Springs.
You get a lot of bang for your buck with these, so be sure to pace yourself. You can find them at the larger L.A. chains like BevMo, Total Wine, and Albertsons/Vons or check them out at Ramirez Liquor and Happy’s Market to support independent grocers.
The art alone on these cans is persuasion enough to buy them. A new line of mixologist-driven CBD-infused sparkling juices and teas, each drink is inspired by craft cocktails, yet has no actual alcohol content. It’s perfect for when you want to vibe, but don’t want to imbibe. Not only is each flavor – cucumber, lemon and lime; mango, pineapple and coconut; raspberry and hibiscus rooibos – delicious and refreshing, but infused with 20mg of hemp-derived CBD.
Each beverage goes to benefit the global arts community, as the Collective Project commissioned a set of international artists – starting with Sussex, England-based Gallit Shaltiel and Canadian abstract painter and jewelry designer Marion Griese – to create limited-edition designs that are displayed on each can.
Mezcal … in a can? Sparkling mezcal … in a can? Yes. Yes to all of it. You may doubt, my friend, but the magicians at Elenita have found a way to successfully create the world’s first canned sparkling Mezcal and it’s good. Crafted from 100% Agave Espadín – an artisanal mezcal distilled in Oaxaca – Elenita is bold, authentic, and a little unexpected. My husband, who is a much bigger mezcal fan than I, was vastly impressed, and this guy isn’t quick to praise his cocktails.
Elenita comes in two flavors: cucumber lime basil and pineapple jalapeño. Both are great, though I prefer the former and my better half preferred the latter. Which makes sense: Elenita’s cucumber lime basil mezcal is meant as an entry point for the mezcal-curious, while their pineapple jalapeño is ideal for those who love bold, mezcal-forward cocktails.
Surreal Brewing Non-Alcoholic Craft Beer
We’re now going to swing hard the other way and recommend the most astonishing non-alcoholic craft beer we’ve ever tasted: Surreal Brewing. They managed to nail the refreshing, full-flavored taste of a craft beer, but without the alcohol, hangover, guilt and calories. Made with all-natural, non-GMO ingredients, these low carb, low-calorie non-alcoholic craft beers are crafted to taste exactly like their alcoholic counterparts. With zero-sugar, gluten-free options, Surreal Brewing offers a wide variety of brews including an award-winning brews Chandelier Red IPA, Natural Bridges Kolsch, and 17 Mile Porter and their latest brews Milkshake IPA and Creatives IPA.
My in-laws are IPA obsessed and they all enjoyed Surreal’s non-alcoholic versions. These are beverages I am especially thankful for, as it helps non-indulging friends and family members to feel included when getting together – virtually or otherwise – for the holidays.
Besa Mi Vino
We have to give a shout-out to this company whenever we make a beverage list because these L.A.-based brothers knocked it out of the park. As a 30-something mom of two who loves Target, I am no stranger to canned wine. I am also no stranger to bad canned wine. This is not that.
Besa Mi Vino is, in my opinion, the highest quality canned wine available today. Made specifically for a can, it is sustainably produced, organic, vegan and sulfite sensitive. It is an ethically responsible brand, and I feel all the better for choosing it. It’s also very tasty, and has a high ABV of 12.5%. Win/Win.
Sweet Reason’s Evening Blend
Remember those adaptogens I was telling you about? Sweet Reason’s Evening Blend has ‘em, and boy, do you want ‘em (adaptogens are herbs and mushrooms that help your body cope with stress).
As one of the highest CBD beverages on the market, it combines 30mg of CBD with a powerful blend of herbs and adaptogens. With ingredients that include ashwagandha, ginseng, l-theanine, chamomile, sceletium, lemon balm and limonene, all in effective, therapeutic dosages, this is a great alternative to alcohol for when you need a break. And if your 2020 has been anything like ours, that’s all the time. Thankfully, they come in three unique flavors – Citrus Spice, Plum Blush and Peach Jasmine – to keep things interesting.
Miami Cocktail Company
These are a favorite of Goop-queen Gwyneth Paltrow, and after sipping them one Sunday morning, we totally get why. Remember back when brunch was a thing? A real thing, not a spaced-out masked thing. These remind me of that. Lazy mornings that stretch into boozy afternoons, soaking up the sunshine and watching people pass by. If you close your eyes while you sip on the Mango & Peach Rosé Bellini Spritz or the Mandarin Rosé Mimosa Spritz it almost feels like you’re there.
What makes the Spritz’ from Miami Cocktail Company a hit would be the natural wines and fruit juices they use. No artificial flavoring or chemicals, no headaches. Just delicious, guilt-free sipping. Try them in five varieties, the two mentioned above as well as the Sunrise Rosé Sangria Spritz and Grapefruit & Hibiscus Paloma Spritz.
Tranquini and Wowie Relaxation Beverages
Adaptogens! These are really the hot new trend of 2020 and we have to say, it’s for a reason. Hemp-infused and made with adaptogens, a good shot of Wowie by Tranquini will help you breathe that deep breath you’ve been searching for the past 8+ months.
Looking for something to enjoy a little longer? Tranquini’s natural de-stressing drink is made with green tea, chamomile, lavender and lemon balm extract. It’s a great alternative to CBD and alcohol for those of you looking to relieve stress but are uncomfortable with those two ingredients.
It may just be the perfect beverage to get through the holidays.
Do you ever love cannabis so much you want to drink it? We get the feeling. And so does Cann, which is why they’ve crafted a THC seltzer brand that has a surprising amount of star power behind it (we’re talking Rebel Wilson, Darren Criss, Ruby Rose, etc…).
Cann offers a low dose of cannabis (2 mg of THC and 4 mg of CBD) with five ingredients and one-third the calories of a normal drink. It gives you a buzz similar to a glass of wine or a beer, but without the side effects of alcohol (like a hangover). What could be better?!