The Best Premixed Canned Cocktails for the Big Game

Throwing a party for the biggest game in football is a bit of an art form. Although not everyone who shows up is going to be a die-hard fan, everyone is hoping to see an inspired game plan for the food and beverages. And while any host can grab a few bags of chips and fill a cooler with beer and hard seltzer, the parties that stand out dig a little deeper. With the right premixed canned cocktails to spice up the offerings, the average party can be elevated beyond the humdrum.

That said, choosing the right beverages isn’t always simple. It’s commonplace to sacrifice quality for convenience, to lean toward volume over taste. Premade mixes that use artificial sweeteners and have an indefinite shelf life can seem like the easy way to get the party started. It may not be great, but it gets the job done. The good news: there are superior alternatives that offer full-strength, bar-quality cocktails without requiring a host to dust off the bartender’s manual they’ve had since college.

Here’s a rundown of how to improve your big-game drink and food offerings without the hassle.

Premixed Canned Cocktails for the Big Game: What to Look For

The RTD (Ready-to-Drink) market is accelerating at a remarkable rate. With the uptick we’re already seeing, the beverage possibilities for the big game have dramatically changed in a short period of time. Instead of just beer and some forgettable alternatives, coolers all over the world are now packed with canned cocktails, offering a change of pace from traditional choices.

But with the explosion in popularity has also come a tremendous range in quality. When you’re hoping your party will stand out come kickoff, remember that not all premixed canned cocktails are created equal. Consider the following tips when making your selections.

1. High Volume Rarely Translates to High Quality

Just because a cocktail is sitting in the cooler next to a beer doesn’t mean it should compete ounce for ounce. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many canned cocktails attempt to do, with the typical grocery store brands often coming in 12-ounce cans. But putting a cocktail into a 12-ounce can is a bit like trying to square a circle. Instead of a margarita, for example, you typically end up with a margarita-flavored beverage that really doesn’t resemble the original inspiration.

Countering this trend, the higher quality canned cocktails are looking to replicate the classic cocktail – not trying to convert cocktails into a beer-like beverage. Canned spirits that are in the range of three to four ounces are typically a much better option for those who actually want an authentic cocktail in a can. Because that’s the correct size of a cocktail you would order at the bar, it’s a much different offering than the bloated content of a high-volume RTD cocktail.

2. Artificial Sweeteners and “Natural Flavors “Are a Red Flag

We live in a world inundated with artificial sweeteners that try to mimic sugar without the negative effects associated with it. Using artificial sweeteners and other substitutes is also extremely common in the RTD market; for many cocktail makers, such options are an irresistible shortcut. But those shortcuts also come with a cost, which is a diminished flavor that makes a canned cocktail taste anything but authentic. As some cocktail experts note, many drinkers even experience a bitter taste from artificial sweeteners.

For those getting ready to host a party for the big game, inspecting the ingredients before picking up a pack of premixed cocktails is a must. If you’re looking at a high-volume can, chances are you’ll see artificial flavors, “natural flavors” (which are usually anything but natural) and a lack of real fruit juices. The discerning cocktail drinker can tell that these are a knockoff of the original cocktail. Instead, options that offer real lime juice, authentic liqueurs, and premium distilled spirits instead of cutting corners are more likely to provide a bar-quality taste.

3. Alcohol Content Matters

Many canned cocktails have an ABV of around 5% — again, making them similar to the average beer. In other cases, a 12-ounce cocktail can have double the alcohol content, although this is still not quite what an experienced cocktail drinker has in mind. An average 12-ounce can with a 10-15% ABV may not provide enough alcohol to equate to a bar-quality single serving, while still containing too much alcohol overall.

This is exactly why other RDT makers have focused on recreating the traditional cocktail more precisely. Canned cocktails closer to three ounces with an ABV north of 20% give drinkers the real cocktail experience without the bartender, and this is where you can elevate your play on game day and shine like the bright lights from the year’s most popular halftime show.

The Advantages of Premixed Cocktails When Hosting a Party

It’s easy to see the upside of bringing premixed cocktails to an event or party, but the true advantage is seen when you’re hosting. Some of the benefits of going with canned cocktails for the big game include:

No More Playing Bartender During the Game

If you’re not interested in settling for the average canned cocktail, you might think you need to do all the bartending yourself to satisfy your guests. This likely means bringing out an army of tools, from shakers and strainers to jiggers and zesters. And to pull off a variety of different cocktail options, you’ll need the accompanying assortment of ingredients to create flavorful cocktails that go beyond the two-flavor basics.  

While this type of labor of love is worth it in some circumstances, it also makes for a messy and complicated hosting process for big games and other events. Just when that historical play – or commercial – that will be the talk of social media for the next week starts to unroll, you’ll likely be glued to the bar playing bartender, trying to fix your brother-in-law the perfect cocktail. Thankfully, those with high cocktail standards don’t have to live like this. By focusing on higher quality premixed canned cocktails, you can serve head-turning beverages all game long without missing your own party.

Forget the Unwanted Leftovers

It’s easy to go overboard when you’re hosting a party for the big game. A trip to the liquor store for a bottle of tequila can spiral out of control as you try to anticipate the tastes of the expected guests. Before you realize it, you have a full counter of liquor and mixing ingredients and are wondering where the food is supposed to go.

Not only is this probably not worth the effort, but it’s setting you up to have an odd collection of leftovers. On top of the liquor bottles you may or may not drink anytime soon, items like bitters, tonics, and syrups can end up sitting around for months after the party. Despite the nobility of the DIY approach to making cocktails for a party, the aftermath is rarely worth it.

Don’t Add to the Party Mess

The game is over, the guests have slipped off into the night, and now you’re left with the cleanup. While a certain amount of cleanup is unavoidable following a football party, making classic cocktails by hand can easily double the mess.

This dilemma points to one of the biggest advantages of choosing premium canned cocktails for the big game. Being able to offer a variety of bar-quality flavors without the cleanup hangover is a proverbial win-win scenario – the equivalent of having your cocktail and drinking it too.

Pairing the Right Snacks with Premium Premixed Canned Cocktails

While the pickiest of guests will be happy that you upped your cocktail game, now you’ll want to go better than the basics when it comes to food, too. Having some chips and chicken wings on hand is perfectly fine, but you can create a stir by going further and pairing your cocktails with the right food options. Here are some tasty combinations to consider:

  • Fajitas or street tacos with a margarita or old-fashioned. Easy to make and versatile, fajitas and street tacos go very well with a margarita, Old-Fashioned, or just about any other cocktail featuring tequila or whiskey. They’re also a natural extension of nachos, which are already a classic option for a big game. Whether you go with chicken, steak, shrimp, or a combination of the three, fajitas and tacos are an ideal complement to the right cocktail.
  • Cheese platters and cosmos. An easy yet sophisticated collaboration. Hard cheeses (like aged cheddar) can help bring out the fruity flavors of a cosmopolitan, which is why having a cheese platter with a few options can be a great combination for game day.
  • Fruit salads and daiquiris. Although they go with cheese and crackers too, a daiquiri can really pop alongside the right fruit salad. The silver rum often used as a daiquiri base collaborates well with mangoes, pineapples, oranges, and more. For those looking to offer a healthy option amid the high-carb spreads you usually find, a simple fruit salad paired with a tasty daiquiri can be perfect.
  • Vanilla ice cream and espresso martini. Who says a football party has to be limited to pizza and chips? Those willing to think outside of the box might try something a little different for the second half of the big game. A cold-brewed espresso martini might hit the spot for your coffee-drinking guests, and a simple scoop of high-quality vanilla ice cream provides an elegant counterpunch to conventional food options during a sporting event.

Using RTD Premixed Canned Cocktails to Stand Out from the Crowd on Game Day

Hosting a party for the big game can be a challenge, and it’s easy to recycle the same options year in and year out. For those looking for a change of pace, offering classic cocktails can be a great way to separate your party from the pack, but serving as the bartender can be time-consuming and messy. While the most popular premixed canned cocktail brands offer some convenience, they’re also a disappointment to those who know cocktails.

Post Meridiem allows you to bring bar-quality beverages right to your cooler. With a variety of award-winning flavors ready to ship straight to your doorstep, our collection is the perfect addition to your game day festivities.