Summer is all about portability and convenience. We want to be able to take everything we like, shove it in a bag and hoik to every peachy sunset, sandy beach and leafy park we can get to. Whether that's portable barbecues, takeaway pizzas, speakers or camping chairs – it's just got to be able to move.
And among the most important portable items for summer is the cocktail can. It's the distillation of good times in a piece of aluminium; the perfect pick-me-up at the end of a festival when you're running on cereal bars and fumes; the ideal tipple to whip out your handbag for post-work drinks on the South Bank. The optimum journey juice for all your day party ventures.
But the reality of this ingenious idea is that most of them are actually really bad. Stomach-churning tins of syrupy mojitos, artificially fruity pornstar martinis and gag-worthy daiquiris that offer about 2% ABV and 98% toothache.
However, beyond the dross that lines much of the shelves are some really exciting companies producing tantalising pre-mixed cocktails that you'll be drinking on repeat. From convenient tins to larger bottles catering for groups and kits delivered through your door, here's our pick of the best pre-mixed cocktails you should be sipping this summer.
Our favourite pre-mixed cocktails
MOTH has mastered the art of the pre-mixed cocktail, selling bar-strength drinks in dinky 125ml cans that can be slipped into any pocket or handbag for summer soirée consumption. From espresso martinis, piña coladas, mojitos and negronis – MOTH has all the classics covered.
Our pick: Margarita
For those partial to a marg but don't fancy the admin of juicing 30 limes in the park, the MOTH Margarita is calling your name. It's sharp, salty and full of zest combining smooth Tequila Enemigo and triple sec with a healthy spike of lime. Whether you drink it straight from the can or pour over chunks of ice in a salt-rimmed glass, this must be consumed with a hearty side of all-night dancing.
£20 for a six-pack; mothdrinks.com
Catch flights not feeling, they say, but when you're in a fuel crisis, that doesn't feel very realistic. So we've found the next best thing – These Days Italian-inspired aperitivo. Choose between the Sun Down or Venetian Spritz, made using white wine from Italy and natural fruit flavours, mixed together and carbonated to create the perfect drink for balmy summer nights.
Our pick: Venetian Spritz
The Venetian Spritz is a sunny reinvention of the classic Venetian bellini, made with organic wine and peach, which transports you to a sun-drenched gondola in the sinking city. If you can't get enough of the cans, These Days actually has an aperitvo bar in Bermondsey, so you can enjoy the Venetian spritz on tap accompanied by plenty of Italian charcuterie, cheese, bread and olives.
£14 for a four-pack; thesedaysdrinks.com
Black Lines is one of the coolest drink brands out there, so it's hardly surprising it was launched in East London. Aside from seductive branding, Black Lines drinks are rather tasty, collaborating with some of the best distilleries and venues in the industry to make good cocktails accessible to the masses. From bottles of pre-made elderflower collins, passion fruit martini and even alcohol-free Shirley Temple, there's a bottle of Black Lines for everyone.
Our pick: White Tea and Pear Fizz
If you want to branch out from your typical cocktail repertoire, the Black Lines White Tea and Pear Fizz should be on your hit list. Originally meant to be a limited release, this floral and refreshing pre-mixed cocktail proved so popular Black Lines have made it a permanent member of the family. Inspired by iced tea and pear lolly-filled summer days, Black Lines has bottled up the magic, adding in Chase Distillery's British farm-to-bottle potato vodka and Janpai Junmai Sake for good measure. To serve, chill the bottle and pour over a highball glass packed with ice and a thin slice of lemon.
£19 per bottle; blacklinesdrinks.com
Is there any better hangover remedy than a bloody mary? We think not. And why not take the faff out of alleviating your pounding headache by buying a pre-mixed bloody mary from Bloody Drinks? Alongside bloody mary cans, the brand also sell boxes of bar snacks, including Perello Gordal Picante olives, tantalising bacon salt and lip-smacking jars of bar nuts on the website.
Our pick: Classic Bloody Mary
It's a fiery combination of tomato juice, 58 Distillery's triple distilled vodka, amontillado sherry, fresh lemon juice, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, a dash of Kikkoman soy sauce, and Tabasco sauce, which will impress even the staunchest bloody-mary connoisseurs. What's more, they stock them at Sainsbury's – bloody brilliant, if you ask us.
£20 for a six-pack; bloodydrinks.co.uk
Letterbox Cocktails bring the bar to you with its ingenious lightweight, flat bottles that slip into your letterbox and straight into any purse or festival backpack. Even better, the kits come with garnishes, so your drinks will look the part without paying a premium.
Our pick: Pisco Sour
If you don't know a pisco sour, it's time to get to know. This Peruvian cocktail from Letterbox Cocktails combines ABA pisco – an unaged, grape-based spirit native to Peru and Chile – with Angostura Bitters, sugar syrup, and lemon juice to make a short, sharp, tangy cocktail perfect for summer sipping. Made in South London using premium spirits, this pre-made pisco sour mix serves 6-7 people, working out at a delicious £5 per drink.
£39.95, makes 6-7 drinks; letterbox-cocktails.com
Flights might be kind of pricey right now, so we've found the next best thing – Vacay cocktails. As the name might suggest, Vacay cans transport you to far-out destinations, with all the holiday favourites like mojitos, vodka mules and margaritas stored in bright, illustrated cans.
Our pick: Paloma
These pre-mixed palomas combine ultra-smooth tequila, which is double-distilled in the highlands of Jalisco, with sour pink grapefruit and tangy lime juice to make Mexico's most beloved cocktail. We'd buy a 12-pack just for the bright pink luminous cans with cactus illustrations, so it's a good thing the cocktail tastes as good as it looks. Enjoy by Regent's Canal in the sunshine, and you might just be transported to the shores of Mexico with every sip.
£3.99 per can; haveavacay.com
It can feel wholly disappointing when the supermarket cocktail can repertoire never includes your favourites. A sea of sickly pre-mixed mojitos, cloying piña coladas, and syrupy cosmos that leave you no choice but to buy a Peroni begrudgingly. Well, not anymore. Whitebox Cocktails are selling something a little different, from the flagship Pocket Negroni to whisky highballs, boulevardiers and dirty martinis.
Our pick: Tiny Tee's Dirty Martini
This dirty martini caters to all the umami girlies' desires. Made from vodka, dry martini, and of course, olive brine, it packs one hell of a punch. Perfect for on-the-go-sipping or enjoyed in your garden in a sultry martini glass.
£5.80 per can; whiteboxcocktails.com
Empirical Drinks, founded by Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen, makes cocktail cans like no other: flavour combinations you've never encountered before (think toasted birch, lemon myrtle and oolong tea) inspired by a child-like curiously and made with custom-built machinery, developed hybrid fermentation techniques and augmented low-temperature distillation.
Our pick: Can 03
Is there a bigger flex than someone asking you what you're drinking, and you reply with 'a carob, fig leaf and lemon myrtle cocktail'? We think not. If you can get over the fact you sound like the embodiment of the Real Housewives of Clapton, then Can 03 should be on your radar. It's a citrussy number with hints of lemongrass, lemon myrtle, and Andaliman pepper, combined with the warm depth of fig leaf, carob, coffee chaff and golden Yunnan tea. As with all of Empirical's drinks, the Can 03 has a fascinating backstory – inspired by a work trip to Ibiza and the nostalgia it evoked for the founder's Lars and Mark. So if you want a totally unique pre-mixed cocktail, Empirical should be your go-to.
£26 for a four-pack; empirical.co
If there's a cocktail can we'll be slinging down our gullets all summer long – it's the ones from Sake Sling. This award-winning range of premixed cocktails re-invents the classic and historic Singapore Sling cocktail using Japanese rice wine sake to make for a completely unique drink you won't be able to put down. Made with craft sake from the celebrated Daimon brewery in Japan combined with all-natural fruit and botanical flavours, these cans contain the perfect cocktail to invigorate the palate at a summer barbecue or to drink at a picnic in the park. There are two flavours to choose from – mandarin and cherry or yuzu and melon, both picking up podium finishes at the World Drink Awards 2023.
Our pick: Yuzu and Melon
Yuzu is having a bit of a moment right now, and rightly so because its citrussy, lip-puckering flavour is the perfect addition to cocktails, particularly this Sake Sling. Mixed with honeyed notes of musk melon and floral, fruity hints from premium Daimon, the Yuzu and Melon Sake sling is a bright, zesty and effervescent drink.
£7.50 for a two-pack; sakesling.com