Are ready-to-drink beverages class or crass? Here are some collective thoughts on what my friends and I chilled, shook, and poured over ice
A riff on the Moscow Mule, this red festive drink is bursting with hibiscus, raspberry, and ginger notes. The alcohol is imperceptible and the drink is on the sweet side, which makes it dangerous. Serve over ice with a twist of lime. We all loved it.
Two Brothers Artisan Spirits
Strawberry Vodka Lemonade
You will taste the vodka in this surprisingly dry, delicious, and smooth drink. None of us were prepared to like it as much as we did. (I mean, strawberry lemonade is for kids, right?!) A tip of the glass goes to local purveyors (and brothers) Jim and Jason Ebel for this fine concoction.
Tequila Lime Margarita
Heavy on the booze and light on the margarita, this is the ready-made cocktail for tequila lovers. Or you could skip the can and just pour yourself a shot of tequila. Quarters anyone? None of us would recommend it.
New Holland Spirits
Blueberry Gin Lemonade
Get past the blueberry smell and you’ll find yourself with a nicely balanced tart gin and lemonade. While none of us could taste the blueberry, we all liked this drink. A couple of us thought it could use a bit more gin, but overall it was very good.
Gin & Tonic
This is not widely available in the Midwest, but Greenhook (greenhookgin.com) should expand beyond its East Coast origins soon. The gin is high quality and bites through the tonic with crisp and bracing satisfaction. It was a thumbs-up in our group. Drink one, and then open another to make sure you believe your own sense of good taste.
Canned Old Fashioned with Blind Tiger Bourbon
This pleasant-smelling drink is heavy on the cinnamon and ginger. Although the bourbon was strong, the drink lacks complexity overall. It may taste better when the snow is on the ground and the fire is roaring. We split on our opinions—the women liked it well enough, but the men, not so much.
Mai Tai Cocktail
Flat, cloyingly sweet, and heavy on the almond extract, we collectively hated this drink. (The addition of yellow #5 should have tipped us off.) None of us could taste the rum—it may have been there but we couldn’t drink it long enough to find out. Once you’ve had a real Mai Tai at the Monkey Pod in Maui, you just can’t drink this pale imitation.
This is the drink for every Cosmo-loving woman who is too tired to drag out the vodka, lime and cranberry juices, and triple sec. It’s flavorful, smooth, and balanced; decent over ice, but perfect when shaken.
Be sure to follow directions on the label: If it says pour it over ice, then do it. Some drinks, that were mediocre when sipped directly from the can, were transformed when shaken or served over rocks. Most can be purchased at a grocery or liquor store near you.