During the pandemic, single serve containers of White Claw, Smirnoff Ice and other popular brands have ranked as bestsellers at LCBO stores. The consistency and convenience that made these on-the-go brands so popular for picnics, poolside and camping trips also made them desirable when shoppers wanted to get in and out of the liquor store in a hurry.
Assisting the category’s move from sugary to sophisticated, Aperol, Bombay Sapphire and Jameson are three international brands that have recently entered the ready-to-drink market with authentic expressions of classic cocktails. Closer to home, Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery and Georgian Bay offer interesting cocktails based on their craft spirits with premium ingredients in handy, single-serving cans that are particularly useful for summer entertaining, but with flavours that would appeal all year round.
Aperol Spritz Ready to Serve (Italy), $16.95
The enduring popularity of the neon orange coloured spritz made with the Italian bitter aperitif Aperol promises to make this new release one of the bestselling ready-to-drink selections of the summer. A boozier entry into the ready category at 9 per cent aclcohol by volume (abv), this is a faithful rendition of the classic aperitif. The balanced and refreshing blend of bittersweet liqueur, prosecco and soda water makes for a mouthwatering and flavourful drink served over ice and garnish with a slice of orange. Available in Ontario at the above price (3 x 200 ml), $15.90 in Quebec.
Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic (Belgium), $10.99
Not surprisingly the juniper and citrus notes of Bombay Sapphire popular style of gin really stand out in this flavourful premixed canned cocktail. A lingering bitter almond and herbal aftertaste adds to the refreshment factor to my taste but might be a negative for those who aren’t seasoned gin and tonic fans. The recommendation to serve chilled, poured over ice with lime is the way to go here. It’s a convenient and reliable version of a classic gin and tonic. Available in Manitoba at the above price (4 x 250 ml cans), various prices in Alberta.
Cave Spring CS2Go Riesling Dry (Canada), $18.95
Cave Spring has embraced miniature glass bottles for its single serve range of Niagara wines. This dry white wine comes from the 2020 vintage in Ontario and shows the vibrant and refreshing character that’s textbook for Niagara riesling with the concentration and ripeness that comes from a warm and dry growing season. This inviting wine offers flavours of clementine, pear and apple with some ginger spice and white stone notes. It’s a style that’s enjoyable on its own or with food. Vegan friendly. Available in Ontario at the above price or direct, cavespring.ca, 4 x 200 ml bottles.
Dillon’s Tangerine, Lemon & A Hint of Mint Gin Cocktail (Canada), $3.15
This is one of a trio of custom-designed, single-drink cocktails recently released by Dillon’s Small Batch Distillery in Beamsville, Ont. Now part of the Mark Anthony portfolio of brands, Dillon’s has greatly expanded the reach for its spirits and associated product lines. The flavours, which are balanced and refreshing, deliver exactly what the label suggests. Attractive citrus and mint notes add interest to the gin-forward taste of this appealing cocktail. Available in Ontario at the above price (473 ml can) or direct, $13.99 in British Columbia for 6 x 355 ml cans ($12.99 until June 4), various prices in Alberta, $15.90 in Quebec for 6 x 355 ml, $18.79 in New Brunswick for 6 x 355 ml.
Georgian Bay Pear Gin Smash (Canada), $3.10
Georgian Bay Spirit Company was quick to embrace the quality premixed cocktail concept, releasing cans of its Georgian Bay Gin Smash in 2016. The pear version presents juicy pear, citrusy and delicate herbal notes as part of a honeyed and flavourful cocktail. To my taste, this is best enjoyed served in a glass over ice so you can get some dilution, but it’s tasty sipped out of a cold can. Available in Ontario at the above price (473 ml can), various prices in Alberta, $15.79 in Manitoba (6 x 355 ml cans).
Jameson Ginger and Lime (Ireland), $3.29
The historic Irish whiskey producer adds a citrus twist to its popular Jameson and ginger ale cocktail order for this ready to drink release, which comes with a 6 per cent alcohol by volume level. Depending on taste, this might come across a touch sweeter and more ginger ale heavy than how you might mix your cocktail, but the flavours are bright and true to form. Available in British Columbia at the above price ($3.09 until June 4, 473 ml can), various prices in Alberta.
Stag’s Hollow Muscat Frizzante 2021 (Canada), $192
Produced with grapes grown in Okanagan Falls, this fizzy and flavourful blend of muscat varieties and albarino offers a nicely balanced and pleasing mix of floral and fruity notes with some depth from peach and tropical flavours. The honeyed sweetness helps to counter the zesty acidity of the blend, which makes for an easy to appreciate style that’s perfect to enjoy on the patio. Available direct at the above price, stagshollowwinery.com, sold as a case of six 4-packs of 250 ml cans.
White Claw Iced Tea Lemon (Canada), $3.10
White Claw has expanded its portfolio with the launch of three flavoured ice teas, which are promoted as 100 calories and 5 per cent alcohol per serving. The peach and raspberry styles should please fans of boldly flavoured hard seltzers. I’m recommending the lemon iced tea flavour as it is the most balanced, with sweet (but not too sweet) flavours suggesting brewed tea and lemon juice notes as advertised. Available in Ontario as a 473 ml can at the above price, $13.99 in British Columbia (6 x 355 ml cans), various prices in Alberta, $17.99 in Saskatchewan (6 x 355 ml cans), $21.49 in Newfoundland (6 x 355 ml cans).
Plan your weekend with our Good Taste newsletter, offering wine advice and reviews, recipes, restaurant news and more. Sign up today.