“I feel like drinking wine out of a can is conducive to my violent hand gestures when I speak.”
Alcohol packaging has gone a long way since the days where our ancestors desperately suckled mead from a hole bored into a dried sheep’s bladder, which has been out of fashion since at least the 1930s. Now, beer, wine, and liquor comes in a variety of packages such as bottles, boxes, bathtubs, your stomach, and Bender Rodriguez. Of these many innovations, by far the most practical and actually-legal-at-certain-beaches of these containers would be the aluminum can. Cheap, lightweight, it’s the perfect alcohol vessel for someone on the go and for overweight frat boys who like to crunch things on their head to prove they have the ability to crunch things on their head.
In a darker past, drinking alcohol from a can meant you were being forced to chug low-grade domestic sludge Budweiser or Coors, but as canning technology has improved, so too has the quality of aluminum encased alcohol. And since our alcohol purchases can suddenly become tax deductible if we write about them, we’re here to present you with…
A Definitive Guide To Canned Alcohol
Canning first appeared as a way to preserve food while allowing you to play Russian Roulette with Botulism until the 1935, when the first canned beer hit the market. Manufacturers began canning soda soon after, because America has their goddamn priorities in order and wanted to make sure we could store booze in convenient can form before we started wasting our time with liquids that can’t get us drunk. At the time, the cans were factory sealed, and required a custom opener (usually a church key that latched onto the top rim to cut a triangular opening at the top of the can) which was only slightly less of a pain in the ass than prying off a bottle cap with your teeth.
Soon thereafter, “cone top” cans hit the market, which was exactly like a glass bottle of beer in every way except that it was made of a material which you couldn’t smash into a weapon in anger during a bar fight, which, honestly, why even bother at that point? Finally, in 1959, Ermal Fraze invented the pull-tab, which revolutionized the way we could get drunk, while also introducing the world the to the satisfying sound that is the “crunch, ptzzz” of a freshly opened beer. For a while, we were content to use this innovative product to drink our shitty beer and sugar-filled sodas, until the 21st century came along and we started canning everything and it was wonderful. We live in a modern age, and we no longer are limited in our choices, which is why you can cram all of the wonderful types of alcohol into your favorite beer cozy of a college with a major sports program that you didn’t attend whenever you so please.
Canned Craft Beer
Canned beer is so common that it would be a waste of space to list “beer” in this article, unless the ensuing description just said, “Duh.” Within the past few years, however, canned beer has gone from being a cheap container for even cheaper beer to a viable packaging option for high-quality, microbrewed craft beers. The common assumption that cans are only for cheap beer has been tossed out as improved insulation technology and lowered production costs have allowed the popularity of canned craft beers to skyrocket to the point that, as of the writing of this article, over 1,345 beers from 380 breweries in 49 states (plus Washington, DC) come in cans.
In the dark days of the 1970s throughout the dark-but-strangely-neon-obsessed days of the 1990s, canning your beer meant risking contamination during the canning process that would leave your beer tasting like a mouth full of pennies. Since then, the clouds have parted, and aluminum cans come coated with a water-based polymer that ensures that such contamination can’t take place. As a result, brewers feel comfortable putting their product in cans, knowing it won’t alter the flavor. From there, we’ve only gotten more adventurous, branching out to such areas as…
Canned Hard Cider
Hard cider used to be that beverage that you’d occasionally see ordered at bars by people who paradoxically don’t like beer or by people who paradoxically respond to their gluten intolerance issues by drinking something other than whiskey (seriously, just man up and drink the whiskey, it’s right there) but within the past few years its popularity has increased exponentially. Suddenly, you can find more cider options than just Stronggirlbow or Woodchuck. Now, you can find cider by reputable craft brewers, and even whiskey-barrel aged ciders. And most of them come in tallboy cans, because if you’re going to be that guy drinking cider at the bar, you should at least get drunker for your efforts.
But enough about boring, regular, “Oh yeah, I see those cans at the grocery store all the time, you’re not showing me anything new” canned beverages. Let’s get into the weird territory.
For everyone that saw the episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where they put wine in diet coke cans who said, “That is very funny, but also, something I would totally do,” there are several companies that have your back. While we were able to find canned “glasses” of wine from a company called Fabulous Brands, we’re going to ignore them because they’re French and they have the laziest company name this side of “Linens and Things.” Instead, we’ll touch on Union Wine Company from Oregon. Canning their wine saves them money, but also allows them to toss out buzz words in marketing campaigns by saying things like “revamping the wine experience” and a variety of other phrases that ultimately can be summarized as, “Hey, isn’t it cool to drink wine without worrying about fucking up your white rug? Also, who buys white rugs anymore other than people in 1995 trying to make their apartment look like how they envision 2020 will be?”
Apart from being a way to support an American winery that’s innovative and groundbreaking and ugh we’re going to stop with the very blatant pandering for free product samples we’re sorry, canned wine is a revolution for everyone who likes to drink at home with friends, but whose friends happen to have the manual dexterity of an near-sighted double amputee. And don’t forget—wine is two to three times more alcoholic than most beers, meaning if you take out a full can of wine you’ll be feeling pretty good, and if you chug a whole six pack, you’re going to end up puking all over the aforementioned white rug. People might say, “Doesn’t that mean that the can is useless, since you spilled the wine anyway?” to which you would retort, “YOU SHUT YOUR DAMN MOUTH AND HAND ME ANOTHER CAN OF WINE TO GET THIS VOMIT TASTE OUT OF MY GODDAMN MOUTH.”
Speaking of getting so drunk you’re not legally liable for what you do next (wait, what’s that? That’s not a legal thing? In fact you’d be more liable? Well fuck) here’s a whole goddamn can filled with whiskey. That’s right, twelve ounces, eight shots, that you have to crack open and CHUG CHUG CHUG FINISH IT FINISH IT YOU SON OF A BITCH oh shit guys he’s not waking up we might need to get him a stomach pump fuck dad’s totally not gonna let us use the beach house after this. For a “so cheap it seems actively reckless, are we sure they’re not trying to thin out the human race through alcohol poisoning?” cost of $5, you can buy a whole can of Scottish Spirits Scotch (either single grain or a mixed blend, if you prefer).
Not content to let the Scottish get all the action, Colorado brewery and early good-beer-in-cans adopters, Oskar Blues, also announced their intentions last year to release a canned whiskey. So far, that has yet to hit the market (if we had to guess, it would have something to do with the government feeling skittish about selling liquor in 12 ounce containers that can’t be resealed once they’ve been open) but it is served every night in Our Dreams. Our Dreams, of course, is the bar our staff likes to go to where they pour out a can of coke and fill it with Jim Beam. You have to drink it all, and you’re not allowed to share, and we usually don’t remember going to sleep when we go out for Happy Hour.
Russians are fucking crazy. They’re out of their goddamn minds. They also produce, sell, and drink canned vodka like it’s nothing. At least with the cans of whiskey, it’s a crazy but hilariously awesome idea that is impossible to hunt down. If an American sees a can of hard alcohol, they start thinking about the logistics. “Okay, so that’s 12 whole ounces of alcohol, and at 40% that means…” and so on and so forth. We’re pretty sure a Russian would look at this can of Stoli the same way you might look at, say, drinking a can of diet coke with lunch.
Basically what we’re trying to say is that thank God we ended up winning the Cold War, because you do not want to get in a full blown knife fight with a lunatic who spends the majority of his time so drunk he can’t feel anything. Even if you win, you’re not coming out in one piece. Russian canned vodka, ladies and gentlemen.
Mixing drinks can be hard work. Sure, you have gin, and yes, you have a two liter bottle of tonic, but why go through all the effort of pouring two things into a glass with ice when you can just open a can to get your daily fix of malaria-treating juniper. Or why go through the frustrating process of mixing triple sec, tequila, lime, and who are you kidding you’re just going to a Mexican restaurant with a bar, when you can get el Jimador’s pre-canned margarita which, at only 5% ABV, will probably taste worse without getting you nearly as drunk?
Yes, canned cocktails are not only available, they’re becoming increasingly popular, because only some sort of scientist-cum-mixologist would know how to combine Malibu rum with cola. There are literally dozens of canned cocktails, all of which tend to be watered down versions of stronger drinks you’d make at home without too much difficulty. So for every drink that you could imagine being a nice, sweet alcoholic treat you’d be unable to easily replicate at home, you run into something like, oh, fucking Ouzo and Coke.
This is a public service announcement. Unless it’s a drink you really like that requires ingredients you’d never use in anything else, don’t do the canned cocktail route. Literally every other canned drink on this list is better, and will get you drunk faster. The same goes for just making a drink at home. If you buy a bottle of Malibu and a two liter bottle of coke, you can make a Rum and Coke that is about twice as strong as the canned version for about three dollars less. It’s okay to be lazy about getting drunk, but don’t waste your time on watered down cocktails that’ll give you all of the headache the next morning with none of the buzz.
So really, your only discourse? Hunt down a $5 can of whiskey and just get weird with it. America will thank you.