Canned cocktails are gaining popularity citywide. They’re easily transportable, naturally portion controlled, and require no extra ingredients or bottle opener to enjoy. And they’ve got a leg up on almost every other form of to-go cocktail — they’ll last for months in your pantry or refrigerator.
“You get to bring home a little piece of a restaurant, and it’s not like leftover tiramisu where it’s no longer good after two days in the fridge,” says Alex Burns, co-founder of Walktails, a co-packing, canning, and beverage development consultant company.
“There’s also just a certain feeling you get when you put one of the cans in your hand and crack it. It’s magical,” adds Walktails partner Philip Search.
After takeout cocktails became legal in Pennsylvania last May, the two beverage industry veterans started working with restaurants to make better canned cocktails. “It’s not as easy as ‘I want to put this in a can’, and you just seal it tight,” says Scott Coudriet, owner of Lloyd Whiskey Bar, who’s collaborated with Walktails on roughly 10 cocktails.
A variety of moving parts dictate both flavor and safety. Not all cocktail ingredients are shelf-stable, for instance, and some can break down the coating that lines and protects the inside of cans. “Your classic cocktail is citrus, sugar, your spirit, and some type of bittering agent, so we’re taking a recipe and translating it using cordials that are essentially pasteurized forms of the citrus element. Then we’re bonding sugars to acids to make them cannable and safe, and then canning the drink without oxygen, and adding a little CO2 depending on the cocktail,” explains Search.
Walktails does the canning for the majority of Philly’s restaurants who offer cans right now, though some places — like New Liberty Distillery — are doing the canning themselves. And they could be here to stay: As long as legislation allows, many local restaurant owners say they envision canned cocktails as part of their future.
“They’ve been really popular as a result of shutdowns and pandemic restrictions, but I don’t see that popularity going anywhere,” says Coudriet. “There’s an appeal of being able to show up to a house party with a four-pack of cocktails rather than beer or a bottle of booze.”
Along with drinks like Lloyd’s “Can-hattan”, you’ll find canned cocktails at spots citywide.
Here’s where to find cocktails by the can in Philadelphia.
Price: $12-$18 (can); $40 (4-pack)
Lloyd’s offers up to eight canned options, including four you can order as a variety pack. The mix features a rotating gin and tonic (currently made with Hendrick’s and a rosemary-peppercorn cordial), a rotating Moscow mule (currently with blackberry and basil), a tequila Aperol spritz, and the Jack and Wendy, Lloyd’s popular bourbon cocktail with hints of apricot and sage. There are also two bourbon staples, an old fashioned made with Elijah Craig and a Manhattan made with Bulleit, both designed to serve two. Order onsite or pre-order online.
This Fishtown spot is known for its expansive selection of canned and bottled beers. But as of recently, you can find margaritas, Moscow mules, spicy Palomas, and other cocktails by the can, too, many crafted specifically for the shop. Buy onsite or order online for pickup.
Price: $6.50 (can), $14.99 (four-pack), $59.95 (case; 24 cans)
Distiller Robert Cassell is transforming house-made spirits into cocktails, made and canned inside Kensington’s New Liberty Distillery. Options include a not-too-sweet sparkling vodka lemonade, an “orange crush” that mixes vodka, citrus, and orange cream soda, and a classic margarita made with lime and triple sec. For something simple and straightforward, try the two-ingredient vodka soda, or the G&T made with Red Ribbon Tonic. Purchase onsite or order online for statewide shipping. Cans are also available at select distributors across Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey.
Tattooed Mom has some of the most fun to-go bagged and jarred cocktails in the city, with elements like Swedish Fish and cotton candy giving them a “a bit of a Willy Wonka vibe,” says owner Robert Perry. Their only canned option, a Moscow mule (Mom’s Mule), is a bit less playful, but it doesn’t lack color, thanks to a multicolored can designed by Philly artist Sean Kinsey.
North Bowl’s lanes are now open, but if you prefer a drink to-go, their menu’s filled with plenty of options, including the canned Citrus Chill. The bubbly drink features vodka, elderflower liqueur, and a mint-lemon cordial.
These two Queen Village spots are offering one canned signature cocktail from each restaurant. From Cry Baby is the Don’t Cry Be Bitter, a citrusy, low ABV (4.5%) gin-based cocktail made with a lemon-lime cordial and topped with club soda. From Bridget Foy’s comes a classic, Mezcal-based Paloma flavored with lime, grapefruit zest, orange oil, and a hint of salt. “Some of the silver linings of the pandemic are fun things like this,” says owner Bridget Foy.
Fish tacos and margaritas: a perfect summer match. You can find them both at Fairmount’s Buena Onda, planning to release new canned margarita flavors throughout the summer (think strawberry and watermelon). First up is a classic, citrusy variation that incorporates Persian limes. The eight-ounce cans serve two.
Price: $13 or $45 per four-pack
LaScala’s will soon have four canned cocktails on its menu: a vodka-based blueberry spritzer with mint and lime, a vibrant purple passion fruit margarita made with butterfly pea flower, a bourbon peach smash with hints of lemon, and a sparkling blackberry daiquiri. Order onsite by the can, four-pack, or variety pack. All eight-ounce cans are designed to serve two.
This neighborhood spot offers its strawberry Aperol spritz by the can and is in the process of canning its “Sage Against the Machine,” a sage-infused vodka cocktail with ginger, lemon, and splash of grapefruit soda. Order onsite or call ahead.
COOK’s Center City wine shop is stocked with not only plenty of canned wines, but craft wine spritzes from multiple brands, too, in flavors like grapefruit and blood orange. You’ll also find bottled cocktail kits, which include all of the necessary ingredients to make classics like negronis, dirty martinis, and more. Order onsite or online for curbside pick up.
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