It’s summer and we’re stuck inside, which means one of two things for most of us — either we rack up the electric bill blasting our ACs all day or we find
literally any other way to cool down. A third option, of course, is to decamp to your parents’ house in the ‘burbs, so you can figure out how to beat the heat as a family. Because my brother was turning 21 on a particularly hot New England day, we decided to go the cool-down-by-drinking route, because trying alcohol is part of my job and also because he’s a newly-21-year-old that’s been stuck inside with his parents since March.
So I invited a few of his friends over, sat everyone six feet apart in my parents’ backyard, and proceeded to have them try upwards of 32 flavors of various canned alcoholic drinks — everything from hard seltzer made with tequila to alcoholic coconut water. Ahead, every ready-to-drink alcoholic drink you've ever been curious to try — ranked from best to worst.
I’m not going to lie, I'm pretty surprised that their resounding favorite was hard coconut water, but they couldn’t stop talking about it. With zero sugar and
alcohol made from quinoa
, the Crook & Marker Spiked Coconut is a breeze to drink and would be perfectly paired with a socially distant beach day. The college kids’ favorite flavor was pineapple coconut because it tasted like a piña colada, though personally I think the raspberry is much better. They described it as “fire” and one tester even said, “I don’t like coconut, but I like this,” so, you know, maybe spiked coconut water is the future. They also were huge fans of the matching
so 10/10 recommend.
Coming in a close second, and my personal favorite, were the Absolut Cans, which come in both the vodka soda and canned cocktail variety. The all-around winner was the Absolut Grapefruit Paloma, which was arguably the most refreshing drink I’ve had in my seven legal drinking years. At 7% ABV it was one of the most alcoholic drinks of the day and tasted like a eating a super cold grapefruit on a very hot day. The college kids balked at the price per can (roughly $5 a pop), but rest assured, this twenty-something will be swiping her credit card on many an Absolut canned cocktail this summer.
These are basically like Truly and White Claw, but slightly sweeter and that was exactly what the college kids ordered. “Give me more of that cherry lime!” they proclaimed as I tried to move on to the next drink. At least three of them separately asked where they could buy it (may I recommend
the Mighty Swell locator
), especially after I told them it would run them about $18 for 12 cans. All around delicious, but slightly harder to find and slightly too sweet for my taste buds.
Next up was a surprise! A small brand with excellent packaging, Onda makes grapefruit and lime hard seltzers using tequila. I was pleasantly surprised when they didn’t taste aggressively of tequila and instead offered the perfect cool down for a hot day. A split amongst the college kids, Onda was favored by the 21-year-olds who told me they "liked craft beer" and less loved by the ones who preferred non-carbonated drinks because “they’re easier to drink quickly.” So Onda is for those with a sophisticated palette and a flair for ~*aesthetic*~.
Cutwater Spirits makes every canned cocktail you could dream of and has been officially dubbed “the mom canned cocktail” by my brother. What these cocktails have going for them is that they taste exactly how they should taste. The margarita tastes like the margarita from the bar on my block and the cucumber vodka soda tastes like if you mixed hotel lobby water with vodka. They’re easy, they’re predictable, and if you’re sorely missing your local bar during the pandemic, these cans are a great substitute for going out in public. That being said, we came to a consensus that they were a bit on the sweet side, so it would be hard to have more than one, which was an important criteria for the college boys.
NOCA is one of those things that I would literally never think about purchasing normally because one, I believe seltzer is far superior to flat water and two, I still cannot believe that
exists. That being said, my brother and his fitness-loving, recently-into-nutrition best friend were obsessed with them. “This is it! This is like if you made Propel into alcohol and I love it!” my brother yelled to nobody in particular before demanding I refill his cup. While some of the drinkers (myself included) said they would like it better if it had bubbles, the general consensus was that these were so easy to drink and so low in calories that they would be the perfect addition to a day drinking extravaganza. When it came to best flavor, they all chose Dragon Fruit Mango.
Arctic Summer (made with Polar seltzer) is a staple in any hard seltzer-packed fridge and this new flavor is perfect for Moscow mule stans who want something a bit lighter. Personally, I thought it tasted fine, but I’d prefer a White Claw or a Truly. The guy who was “really into craft beer” said it tasted like celery with a ginger aftertaste and my brother said if someone handed one to him he would drink it, but he wouldn’t go out of his way to buy it. A fine seltzer, but nothing historic.
These are made by a boutique distillery in California and it shows. They taste exactly like a fancy cocktail at a fancy restaurant and if I wasn’t day drinking with a bunch of 21-year-old boys, I would have felt like the classiest woman to ever exist. That being said, when I reach for a can of RTD alcohol, I don’t really want a fancy cocktail. So unless I had a sudden change of heart and poured it into a cup with ice, it wouldn’t be my first choice. The college boys did, however, all finish their drinks and collectively decided the tangerine vodka soda was the best flavor. One of them said, “Dude this smells like pencils! This smells like Ticonderoga!” and then proceeded to ask for a second round... so take that for whatever it is.
Volley brands itself as a “the first clean spiked seltzer,” which honestly means nothing to me and also, these tasted very bad. Well, they tasted like a shot of tequila if a shot of tequila was 12 ounces, a little bit bubbly, and only 5% alcohol. Somehow, they tasted more alcoholic than if I just had some tequila on the rocks, and a lot of the boys poured out the ginger flavor. They decided that the packaging looked Apple-esque (though personally it gave me more of a Doodle Jump vibe) and that the lime flavor was the best, but honestly, they’d rather just drink cheap tequila.
Okay, Bev is in the last spot, which is going to be relatively controversial, but hear me out: It tastes like Franzia in a can, which is totally fine, but just far too sweet for us on a hot summer day. Also, at ~$6 a can, Bev was far too high a price point for these college students who all had their internships cancelled this summer. That being said, Bev definitely wins for cutest packaging, so cheers to that.