Canned Margaritas: How to Get Both Convenience and Quality

What makes the margarita such an enduringly popular drink? It might be that signature mix of sweet, sour, and salty flavors. Or it could be because the drink is so customizable. You can have it frozen or on the rocks, with a salted or sugared rim, and in your choice of delicious and exotic flavors. Whatever the reason, margaritas are still America’s favorite alcoholic beverage since being introduced at Tommy’s Place in Juarez, Mexico, in the 1940s. 

A mainstay of the modern cocktail bar, even after 80 years, more than half of Americans rank the drink as their favorite cocktail. That’s even as prices at the bar are skyrocketing. Margarita prices have gone up an average of $1 a drink in the last few months.

Rising prices are encouraging more people to look for at-home cocktail alternatives. This means exploring the world of canned margaritas, which can deliver convenience at a comfortable price point. All too often, though, the convenience of a can comes at the sacrifice of quality. Margarita lovers are left to wrestle with that age-old at-home cocktail dilemma: do you opt for convenience and flexibility, or do you want the great taste of a freshly-made bar-quality cocktail? 

But as consumers shift towards enjoying their drinks outside of the bar environment, they are finding ways to get both quality and convenience from their canned margaritas. If you want a canned margarita that delivers great taste with at-home convenience, here are some tips to help you find it. 

How to Get Convenience and Quality in Canned Margaritas

If you’ve been side-eyeing canned cocktails up until now, you aren’t alone. Canned cocktails have been notoriously suspect, made for a market that historically favored convenience over quality. They didn’t mind artificial ingredients and plenty of preservatives as long as the price was right. But discerning consumers want better from their at-home cocktails. They want high-quality ingredients that deliver a fresh, quality taste. But they also want it in a package that’s easy to store, transport, use, and recycle. 

Related: How to Celebrate International Margarita Day with Ready-to-Drink Margaritas

And so, the modern canned cocktail was born. Manufacturers are now producing high-quality margaritas in a can, ready to be served at home by simply popping the top and pouring over ice. 

The bar is being raised each year in the canned cocktail industry, with tastes getting fresher, better, and bolder. However, high-quality cocktails are still few and far between on the beverage shelves. You can spend years trying different canned margarita options. Or, you can learn more about what makes a great canned drink truly tremendous and find a delicious alternative to put in your refrigerator. 

Look For Real Ingredients

Real ingredients are critical to an excellent canned margarita. But remember, this is about finding real ingredients, not the suspect “natural flavors” ingredient. “Natural flavors” is an industry term to describe flavorings that are designed to mimic specific flavor profiles, but are actually a mashup of other flavors that are found in nature.  

The FDA doesn’t enforce a definition of “natural”  when it comes to ingredients, but it allows the term to appear on any products without artificial or synthetic ingredients. So a canned cocktail advertising natural flavors could contain almost anything. You’ll need to dig deeper to find those authentic ingredients. To do that, you’ll need to read the ingredient list carefully.  

Scan the ingredients list and see what’s listed. If you can pronounce it all, that’s a good start.  You’ll want a canned margarita that contains the same ingredients your favorite mixologist would use behind the bar. Anything other than that, and you’ll start to compromise on flavor. Look for cocktail blends that include Tequila, orange curacao, 100% real lime juice, and little else. 

And if you want the best taste possible, pay particular attention to that lime juice. Many cheap-and-cheerful cocktail brands use artificial lime flavoring or shelf-stable lime juice that contains added ingredients. They use these “natural” ingredients to recreate the margarita’s sour notes, while extending the shelf life of a product. More often than not, these “Natural Flavors” fall flat on taste. Instead, look for cocktail brands that use 100% real lime juice. It’s what your favorite bartender would use at your local bar, and it’s what you should look for in a canned margarita, too. There is just no comparison when it comes to taste. 

Real Margaritas Have Real Tequila (All About That Base Spirit) 

Speaking of real ingredients, there are many canned “margaritas” out there that are made with a base of Agave Spirits, but this is a category of distilled spirits that are made from Agave—they’re not tequila. Some brands even make their margarita-like beverages with orange wine, Agave Wine, malt-based alcohol (like most hard seltzers) and a variety of other alcohol forms that are not distilled spirits. True tequila may only be called tequila if it’s produced in the Jalisco state using blue agave, and real Margaritas will use real tequila. 

Watch Those Proportions

You want your canned cocktail to have the correct ratios of alcohol and other ingredients. Because even if they are using real Tequila and authentic liqueurs, if the proportions are off, the drink won’t taste right coming out of the can. Tequila should be the dominant ingredient. Other ingredients act as a supportive cast of characters that let Tequila’s star shine. The “rule of thumb” for a good margarita is the 3-2-1 rule. You want three parts tequila, two parts liqueur like orange curacao, and one part lime juice. 

The overall proportions of the beverage matter, too. The standard cocktail serving is 100 mL, so look for cans around this size. Anything smaller and you aren’t getting a full cocktail out of the can. Anything bigger, and you are probably paying for filler ingredients and watered-down taste, ie: soda water. By sticking to that 100 mL size and the right proportion of alcohol, you should be in the ideal range of 24-37% alcohol by volume per margarita. That will deliver a freshly-made-at-the-bar taste in the comfort of your living room. 

Packaging Matters (A Lot)

When looking for that 100 mL can size, look at the quality of the can itself, too. Good packaging is essential for preserving the quality of the ingredients inside. Some brands offer 350ml and 750ml multi-serve glass bottles, and other versions come in clear plastic. These bottle types are problematic for a couple of reasons.

In a glass bottle, the liquid starts to degrade immediately, especially as it is exposed to light—and once the larger bottles are opened, you better drink it all because it’s going to be much worse the next day. Oxygen is the enemy of a good cocktail.

A smaller can, on the other hand, protects those ingredients without introducing fillers and preservatives, keeping the final product top-shelf quality. Aluminum cans are lightweight, shatterproof, and recyclable. They are easy to bring on a picnic or snap open fresh from the fridge and pour over ice on a hot summer day. And aluminum cans do not oxidize, which helps seal in the flavor and freshness until you’re ready to enjoy your bar-quality cocktail.  

Related: How Long Do Ready-to-Drink Cocktails Last?

Look for canned margaritas made in small batches and shipped immediately. The shorter the time from the manufacturer to your door, the fresher the taste. Small batches ensure the manufacturer carefully controls the mixing and packaging process, which results in a higher-quality drink. 

How to Add a Little Magic to Your Canned Margaritas

Once you find the perfect canned margarita, all you need to do to enjoy one is pop the top and pour over some ice. That’s the beauty of the highest-quality canned cocktails. You can skip the fuss and get a deliciously sippable drink at home or at your next party—wherever adventure carries you!

If you want to take your at-home beverage experience to the next level, though, here are some ideas: 

  • Add some sparkle to the rim. Wet the rim of your drinkware and dip it into a saucer of salt, sugar, or a bit of both. This creates that signature margarita rim and can elevate the flavors of your drink. 
  • Play with your garnishes. Garnishes make your drink look fancier, but they can enhance the taste, too. A twist of orange peel or a slice of lemon can heighten the citrus notes of your margarita. Throw a strawberry on a sweet marg to boost its visual appeal and give the drinker something juicy to enjoy. 
  • Splash in some juice. Your margarita should already have real lime juice, but you don’t have to stop there. Add a splash of fresh pineapple juice to your drink to make it more tropical, or add a little grapefruit juice to hit those sour notes. 
  • Blend, baby, blend. Margaritas are delicious on the rocks, but many people enjoy them  blended as well. Recreate that blended experience at home by mixing your beverage with ice and giving it a few moments in your blender. 
  • Gorgeous drinks need gorgeous glasses. Looks aren’t everything, we know. But a fancy cocktail glass can make the at-home drinking experience feel special. Classic margarita glasses are stemmed with a generous welled bowl, often with a second well underneath. That wide bowl is perfect for salting or sugaring the rim, and the stem will prevent you from melting the ice with your body heat. 

Get That Freshly-Made Cocktail Bar Taste at Home

It’s not good enough for canned margaritas to be available anytime, anywhere. They have to actually taste good, too. Post Meridiem offers a full range of award-winning ready-to-drink cocktails, but our margarita deserves special attention. It’s made from top-quality Tequila, imported liqueurs, and 100% real lime juice at our manufacturing facility in Atlanta. We carefully craft our margaritas in small batches and package them in perfectly proportioned 100 mL cans. 

Finally, you’ve found canned margaritas that hit that perfect blend of bar-quality fresh taste and canned convenience. Visit us online to find a location near you or order online and have your favorite cocktails shipped right to your door.