Try these canned cocktails to help you cool down

Here are a few of the canned cocktails currently available. Krista Slater for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Courtesy of Krista Slater

Credit: Courtesy of Krista Slater

Here are a few of the canned cocktails currently available. Krista Slater for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It might seem an odd choice for us to highlight ready-to-drink cocktails this week, considering we recently opened Nighthawks Lounge in Athens, which places an emphasis on obscure quality brands, fresh juices, and proper shaking and stirring techniques. But this fast-growing drink category is great for outdoor activities, including the upcoming tailgating season.

Ready-to-drink cocktails, or pre-mixed cocktails, usually come in aluminum packaging and can be chilled and enjoyed straight from the can, or poured over ice. Almost every major beer and liquor brand is making them, along with some upstarts whose sole product is the canned cocktail. With more varieties being added, it seems to be more than a passing fad that will fizzle out, as wine coolers did.

We curated a list of our favorite ready-to-drink cocktails, starting with two of the tastiest, which also happen to be made here in the South. We also love the spirit-free versions from Pentire and Ghia, which have less sugar than a soda and more taste than a seltzer.

Tip Top Proper Cocktails. This potent libation in a tiny can gets its cocktail street cred from bartender extraordinaire Miles Macquarrie of Decatur’s Kimball House. We especially like the Negroni and Manhattan versions poured over ice and given a few stirs.

Cathead Sparkling. We are longtime fans of this Jackson, Mississippi-based spirits company. Their entry in the canned cocktail category is a sparkling beverage made with their Cathead vodka; it comes in four citrus flavors and cranberry. The drinks are sugar- and gluten-free, vegan and each can is 100 calories. However, they’re so easy to drink that it’s a good idea to be aware that they are 5% alcohol by volume.

Pentire and Tonic. We first tried Pentire, an alcohol-free drink made by distilling plants native to the coastline of Cornwall, England, in its bottled form. Added to other spirit-free aperitivos or vermouths, it made a wonderful nonalcoholic Negroni. Now comes the canned Pentire and Tonic. The ingredients are listed as sparkling water, British beet sugar, and a British sea herb extract blend of rosemary, woodruff, meadowsweet, sea buckthorn and seaweed. The complex flavor lives up to the exotic ingredient list and, as a bonus, it has less than 3 grams of sugar.

Ghia Lime & Salt. Ghia started as a nonalcoholic bottled cocktail ingredient. As the company came out with cans, sparkling water and other flavors were added to the mix. We enjoyed the new lime and salt flavor, which includes white grape juice, lime, yuzu, lemon balm, elderflower, fig juice, gentian root, orange, rosemary, acacia, sea salt, eucalyptus and ginger. Does that sound like a lot? No fear, it has all of the flavor, no added sugar and is bitter and refreshing.

The Slaters are beverage industry veterans and the proprietors of the Expat and the Lark Winespace in Athens.

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