Drinking a sparkling Cosmo or Margarita cocktail can be a strange experience. But ready-to-drink (RTD) canned cocktails depend on adding bubbles as a preservative for cans with low-alcohol spirits.
With or without bubbles, premixed cocktails are a burgeoning phenomenon. Gin and tonics are a strong candidate for canned cocktails since tonic water is already sparkling. As a result, there are a plethora of canned gin and tonics designed for convenience, portability and easy sipping.
Here are five gin and tonic RTD cocktails from large corporate and smaller, niche producers available in 200 to 355 ml (about seven to 12 ounce) cans. Many of the gins in canned cocktails are generic. These RTDs carry quality gin distillation heritage from 1778 to the last few decades.
Bombay Sapphire & Tonic Ready-to-Drink
Bombay Sapphire, one of the leading gins sold in the U.S., launched Bombay Sapphire & Tonic in April 2021. The formulation for the RTD was developed by Master of Botanicals Ivano Tonutti and Master Distiller Dr. Anne Brock. Like many producers, the company chose a matte finish packaging for the 250 ml cans to protect the liquid from sunlight and to preserve freshness.
During the launch, Bombay Sapphire asked Bob Nye “The Science Guy” to explain on Instagram why the canned product with bubbles of tonic were the ideal foil for the 10 vapor-infused botanicals in the gin. “Like how sodium and chloride go together, the bright, bitter and citrusy tonic complements the ‘gininess’ of the Bombay Sapphire,” said Nye. “Bubbletivity” is a term coined by Natasha Curtin, Global Vice President for Bombay Sapphire, which denotes a “silky” and consistent bubble ratio of tonic to spirits in the beverage.
I recognized the botanical notes of the Bombay Sapphire in the canned cocktail and found the ratio of gin to bubbly tonic balanced. The G&T is refreshing, satisfying and worth the convenience of popping the top. A Bombay Sapphire and Light Tonic version is available for those who prefer 33 percent fewer calories than the classic style.
6 O’clock Gin is made at the family-owned Bramley & Gage distillery near Bristol. With a familial tradition of gathering at 6:00 p.m. for a gin and tonic, the current generation decided to enhance the family vermouth and fruit liqueur portfolio by joining the artisanal British gin renaissance with 6 O’Clock Gin. Using traditional distillation methods, 6 O’Clock gin is made in small batches with natural ingredients. In 2021 the distiller added canned London Dry G&Ts to their products sold in the U.S. in addition to Brunel, Damson (Plum) and Sloe gins.
My tasting panel added lime to their glass of the RTD and thought the product was “bright and spirited.” I liked the fresh flavor, lack of sweetness and overall balance. Though some tasters thought the 7 percent ABV was fine, others wanted to add more gin.
Hard seltzers with various alcohols were among the first RTD canned offerings; now there are a multitude of seltzers and canned cocktails with premium spirits and wine seltzers. When I encountered a can of Freeland Spirits Gin and Rose Tonic, I thought it meant gin and rosé wine with tonic. Launched in July 2019 in Portland, aka the Rose City, this RTD is made with Freeland Spirits acclaimed gin and Portland Syrups Company’s Rose City Tonic made with floral infusions.
Jill Kuehler, the founder of Freeland Spirits, crafts the gin with 14 botanicals in a copper pot still and then adds natural flavors from a cold vacuum distillate of cucumber, rosemary, mint and thyme. Freeland Spirits also produces, Geneva, a genever-style gin, dry gin and bourbon. Kuehler offers another gin RTD cocktail, a refreshing French 75 featuring another Oregon collaboration. Chelahem winery produces the chardonnay paired with the gin and sparkling water for the French 75.
The Freeland Spirits Gin and Rose Tonic RTD packs a 10.4 percent ABV which offers a unique gin and tonic experience. The tonic is made with genuine cinchona bark balanced with a layer of floral rose infusions. The top-rated canned G&T among our tasters, the Freeland Spirits Rose Tonic engendered positive comments about the delicate rose aroma, prominent gin base, fine-tuned tonic bubbles, and overall G&T bliss.
Madam Pattirini Gin & Tonic
Ogden’s Own Distillery in Utah has a practice of naming their spirits in non-traditional ways. Ogden’s Own Madam Pattirini gin is named after Mormon founder Brigham Young’s son who frequently dressed in drag and performed under the pseudonym of this “Italian opera singer.” The front label of the Madam Pattirini G&T RTD reimagines the dress-up character. Another irreverent member of Ogden’s Own portfolio is Five Wives Vodka, a play on the state’s evolution of polygamy laws. The Five Wives Moscow Mule is also a fine example of canned cocktail taking advantage of bubbles, in this case, ginger beer.
Madam Pattirini G&T canned cocktails at 7 percent ABV are fulsome drinks with classic juniper notes accompanied by lemon and ginger accents. Well balanced in the bitterness to sweetness ratio and not overly alcoholic, I noted this cocktail is bold and true to the spirit. Only a few of my tasters proposed adding more gin to their glass, and all would toast the season with Madam Pattirini again.
Major gin player Tanqueray released a trio of crafted gin canned cocktails in July 2021. Tanqueray launched the Classic G&T along with Tanqueray Sevilla Orange Gin and Tanqueray Rangpur Line Gin paired with sparkling water.
The canned G&Ts are made with the iconic Tanqueray London Dry Gin and an aromatic tonic . With 6 percent ABV, the Tanqueray G&T yields a smooth cocktail. Though the drinks are packaged in 355 ml cans, my tasters wonder if there was time for another since they could walk home. I called the cocktails “classic and clean.” My tasters said, “Terrific with lime.” And lastly, taster Joss said, “Thank goodness, not sweet.”
While pinpointing the reason for popularity of the Tanqueray products, Christina Choi, Senior Vice President of Rum, Tequila and Gin at Diageo North America, summed up the growing interest in their G&T RTDs: “Crafted gin cocktails in a can offer a new and convenient way to enjoy cocktails and are perfect for drinkers who may not currently have gin in their repertoire, but who enjoy drinks that are refreshing-tasting and flavorful.”
I’ll toast Choi’s description of the Tanqueray and raise a can to quality RTD G&Ts as an entrée to gin or a convenience for dedicated G&T lovers.