Bringing the bar to you is a good idea any time of year, but it’s especially convenient when winter temperatures have you turning to the cozy comforts of home. The right flavor can tap the imagination and provide a welcome respite from the winter lulls – even in places normally associated with beaches and sunshine instead of frigid winters. No matter where you are, the best RTD cocktails are the perfect complement to chilly nights and early sunsets.
While authentic ingredients in a cocktail can provide a dash of comfort or escapism, artificially based RTD cocktails can be disappointing. Here are six canned cocktails that can help stave off the winter blues and what to look for to make sure you’re not taking shortcuts when it comes to quality.
1. The Classic Comfort of an Old Fashioned
The whiskey drinkers out there have plenty of ways to start a happy hour on the right footing, although topping a carefully made old fashioned is a tall order. The bourbon-based drink traces its roots back to the late 19th century and has gone through many alterations, though the top versions of today tend to focus on simplicity.
In other words, the best way to make this classic is to cut out the fancier additions and focus on authentic, well-picked ingredients that bring the drink back to its roots. After all, the old fashioned got its name because patrons wanted the original version of a whiskey cocktail.
And even though an old fashioned also tastes great in the summer, the subtle bite of a good whiskey is ideally suited to helping you warm up on a cold night. An old fashioned is a generational American classic that has prevailed through times thick and thin. For those looking to warm up on a brisk winter eve, a bar-quality old fashioned will never go out of style.
2. Espresso Martinis Offer the Best of Both Worlds
Plenty of coffee drinkers look for ways to add a little kick, which is why the espresso martini has picked up in popularity in recent years. For sleepy winter nights, espresso martinis offer a natural dose of caffeine alongside one of the truly classic cocktails. The result is an exhilarating combination of a rising trend (cold-brewed coffee) and one of the most versatile cocktails around.
Although there are plenty of versions these days, it begins with the right proportion of coffee and alcohol. Some alcoholic canned drinks try to pack in too much alcohol, others are mostly cold-brewed coffees with a splash of vodka. The better options, on the other hand, recreate the proportions you would actually get at your favorite bar, mixing premium coffee with high-quality vodka and coffee liqueur. Only with the exact mix of caffeine and alcohol can the espresso martini be fully appreciated.
When made well, the pick-me-up of an espresso martini is an excellent way to combat the drowsiness that comes along with early sunsets and extended periods of darkness. If you ever find yourself wondering whether to have a coffee or a cocktail on a cold winter night, espresso martinis can be the perfect solution.
3. Margaritas: One of the Classic Alcoholic Canned Drinks
You would have to search long and hard to find a place where cocktail drinkers aren’t smitten with a well-made margarita. Even if you can’t feel your toes because you just shoveled your way out of a historic blizzard, the gentle combination of tequila, lime juice, and the right liqueur can shake loose decades-old memories of spring breaks in Cancun. Before you know it, you’ve forgotten your shoveling aches and are curled up in front of the fire amid a margarita daydream.
One of the beautiful parts of a margarita is the endless ways to customize it. When it comes to an RTD cocktail, a high-quality silver tequila along with 100% real lime juice and top-tier orange liqueur (orange curacao is a gold standard) offers an excellent starting point. If you’re feeling ambitious, salt the rim of your margarita glass and pour over ice to commence a much-needed winter happy hour. Otherwise, the right canned margarita just needs a glass and some ice to inspire visions of those warm summer nights just over the horizon.
4. Vodka Gimlets are Ideal for Brutal Winters
Whether vodka originated in Russia or Poland, the famous liquor has been a silver lining of winter for hundreds of years at this point. There are many vodka-based drinks ideal for winter – including the always-classic White Russian – but it’s hard to top a vodka gimlet as a mid-winter staple. Although its cousin, the gin gimlet, is also well-known to cocktail drinkers, vodka conjures up images of the frozen Siberian wilderness and the need to hunker down in the coziest place possible.
Vodka might be associated with some of the coldest regions in the world, but the first (gin) gimlet was made for life at sea. In the 19th century, British sailors accidentally created the cocktail to help handle the pressures of naval life, which included cold nights and ailments like scurvy. Today’s vodka version combines vodka and lime juice along with add-ons like lemongrass oil and cane sugar syrup, creating a bold flavor with a trace of underlying sweetness.
Considering the hard-born inspiration, a Netflix-and-chill night with a hand wrapped around an authentic vodka gimlet can easily take the edge off a blustery winter evening.
5. The Mai Tai: An Antidote for Winter
If there’s a cocktail even more synonymous with beach vibes than a margarita, it’s probably the Mai Tai. Even though it’s frequently tossed together and flung at helpless tourists just happy to be on vacation, a well-made Mai Tai is a thing of tropical beauty. Typically started with quality Caribbean rums and (hopefully) 100% real lime juice, the Mai Tai can mentally transport someone to a Hawaiian tiki bar with only a sip.
Officially created for the first time in 1944, the Mai Tai quickly outgrew its Oakland, California roots and has become a global phenomenon. Like an RTD margarita, it can also be enjoyed right out of the can or is easy to supplement — dropping in a cocktail cherry is all you need, although you get bonus points for having a mini cocktail umbrella on hand.
If you want the real deal and the full flavor of the Mai Tai, look for a maker that sticks to the original 1944 recipe. The canned versions that stray from the original formula typically end up tasting more like a random gulp of mediocrity than a sip of paradise. For those looking to escape the doldrums of winter by recreating a classic, the extra step of using real ingredients and the original recipe is always worth it.
6. Daquiris Are a Vintage Escape Hatch
Days in sunny Havana, Cuba are about as far from wintry escapades as you could possibly go. In fact, Havana’s warm weather was so tempting that it’s where one of the most famous 20th-century Americans would go to beat the brutality of winter. At the height of his popularity in the 1930s, Ernest Hemingway would leave Idaho for Havana each winter, finding refuge in Havana’s party scene while working on some of his best-known novels.
It was on one of his winter escapes that his lips first met a daiquiri. According to legend, Hemingway snuck into a bar to use the bathroom and ended up being invited by the bartender to try a daiquiri – the type of offer Hemingway was unlikely to turn down. Not only did Hemingway love the drink, but he also made the bar at the Hotel El Floridita a regular stop-off from that day forward. Eventually, a version of the daiquiri was even named in his honor.
The Daiquiri has gone through many different manifestations since Hemingway’s heyday, but the Cuban classic is still associated with the romanticism of Havana. Whether you’re cruising through For Whom the Bell Tolls or the latest chart-topping true-crime mystery, daiquiris can be an excellent companion for those who can’t make it to Cuba to wait out the winter.
Warming Up on a Winter’s Night with the Real Thing
The ability to recreate a classic cocktail in a can has completely changed the game. Instead of having to play bartender, RTD cocktails let you put your feet up and enjoy the quality of the bar without even having to put on your snow boots. Even if you’re in a relatively warm area, seasonally cool weather and less sunshine can still leave you hoping to warm up with a familiar favorite.
When you’re ready to escape from winter in the coziness of your home, the alcoholic canned drinks that go the extra mile with simple, 100% real ingredients and bar-measured alcohol content are what to look for. No artificial ingredients, no compromise, just the smooth sip of your favorite cocktail.
At Post Meridiem, every one of our cans is designed to deliver flavor without compromise, to fully realize the potential of RTD cocktails, and to bring the bar wherever you want it to be — delivered right to your door. Take a look at our collection of cocktails today to find the one that will help you create that perfect winter happy hour.