For the 52 percent of Americans who prefer wine and liquor over beer, tailgate parties and informal backyard soirees can be a sobering experience.
Fortunately for them, production of canned wine and cocktails has surged in recent years — and sales have followed. Between 2015 and 2016, canned wine sales more than doubled to $14.5 million, according to Nielsen research.
Of course, this is just a drop in the keg compared with beer, which Americans spent $37 billion on between 2016 and 2017, according to Nielsen. Canned beer accounts for just under 57 percent of the beer market.
The benefits of canned booze and wine are enough to make your head spin:
- Cans are lightweight
- They are welcome at places you can’t bring bottles, like beaches
- They’re environmentally friendly
- Metal keeps liquids colder for a longer period of time than glass
- Cans eliminate the need for heavy and pricey mixers, syrups and other cocktail must-haves.
Not sure which canned wine or cocktail to try at your next pregame party or end-of-summer celebration? We asked an expert to name some of the most popular ones on store shelves:
Varieties: Pinot noir, bubbly rosé, and pinot gris
Price: $7.99 for a six-pack
The story in a gulp: In 2013, Union Wine Company, headquartered in Oregon, packaged a few thousand cans of wine as a gimmick. They became a viral sensation. Now the company produces 4.2 million cans per year, which accounts for 50 percent of its business.
Expert opinion: “Before Underwood, most canned wines came in micro sizes,” says Dan Swan, a salesman at Pure Wine, a Midwestern wine distribution company. “This is the same size as a beer can.”
Francis Ford Coppola Sofia Minis
Varieties: Brut Rose, Blanc de Blancs
Price: Starts at $16.99 for a four-pack
The story in a gulp: It shouldn’t be surprising that visionary filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola and his daughter Sofia were among the first vintners to can wine in 2004. They realized that bottles of sparkling wine have one huge drawback: If you don’t drink the whole bottle of after uncorking it, the wine will lose its bubbles. The solution? A 187 milliliter can of sparkling wine you can consume before the drink goes flat.
Expert opinion: “These cans come in a nice box, which makes them the perfect dinner party gift,” says Swan. “Each can also has a straw, so you can sip slowly instead of gulping down the wine.”
Varieties: Red, white, sparkling
Price: $24.99 for a four-pack
The story in a gulp: In 2014, Mancan founder Graham Veysey was sitting at a bar after a long day of working on drywall. He wanted some wine, but didn’t want a full bottle or to have to read a whole wine menu. He began wondering why wine, unlike beer, wasn’t sold in cans. After doing some quick research on his phone, he realized that canned wines like Sofia did exist – but their packaging was seemingly geared towards women. Within a year, Mancan, complete with its “Shut up and drink” slogan, was born.
Expert opinion: “Like Union wine, you need to remember that each can contains half a bottle of wine,” says Swan. “So you may want to pace yourself.”
Varieties: Vodka and soda, gin and tonic, grapefruit vodka and soda, rum and ginger, bloody mary, orange vodka and soda, cucumber vodka and soda, vodka mule, rum and cola
Price: $14.99 for four pack
The story in a gulp: This San Diego distillery, which opened a 50,000-square-foot haven for lovers of liquor this summer, offers the most varieties of canned cocktails. Its rum and ginger concoction was voted one of the summer’s best by Bon Appetit magazine.
Expert opinion: “The best part of canned cocktails is that you don’t need to buy things like Triple Sec,” says Swan. “You use just a little to make a cocktail, and then it sits on top of your refrigerator for five years.”
Can Can Cocktails
Varieties: White Linen, 120, Boar’s Bourbon Root Beer
Price: $5 each
The story in a gulp: Nobody knows how to make a cocktail better than an experienced bartender, which is exactly what Ryan Seng was when he launched a Kickstarter campaign last year to create a line of canned mixed drinks sold in artistic cans (Ryan is an artist too). He turned the $11,071 he raised on Kickstarter into a line of canned cocktails that made nearly every magazine’s “best canned cocktail” list published this year.
Expert opinion: “You’re not just supporting the liquor industry when you drink this,” says Swan. “You’re supporting an artist. The cans he designs are amazing.”
Varieties: Hochstadter’s Slow and Low Rock and Rye
Price: $3.50 per can
The story in a gulp: This 84-proof cocktail is composed of aged straight rye whiskey, a shot of 100 percent raw Pennsylvania honey, and Florida navel oranges. GQ magazine notes that perhaps the best part of this canned drink is that its small size (100 ml) falls beneath the TSA’s 3.4-ounce carry-on liquor limit.
Expert opinion: “They have a huge distribution network,” says Swan. “You can get this just about anywhere in the country.”