Wine Guy: Canned cocktails get creative in time for sipping season

Well-canned cocktails make so much sense for the summer al fresco season

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Let’s start by setting the record straight. It’s true that canned cocktails are, in essence, completely unnecessary. Really, what’s so difficult about grabbing a bottle of spirits and some mixer and embarking on a little swirling or shaking?

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Alas, this misses the point, doesn’t it?

It’s not about difficulty, it’s all about convenience. Well, apparently convenience reigns given the aggressive expansion of canned cocktail offerings flooding shelves. And to be honest, the selection has become quite creative; and well-canned cocktails make so much sense for the summer al fresco season anyway.

Walter Caesar Extra Spicy Craft Vodka Cocktail, Canada ($3.29 for 358mL can on sale until July 30, #353105)

“Craft canned cocktail” sounds way cooler than RTD, or “ready to drink” — the typical industry parlance for these types of beverages. But you know, while I enjoy the occasional Caesar the reality is that I never tend to have the foresight to really be ready to prepare and drink one on command. Problem solved with this Walter Caesar. Walter’s mix already was a favourite, so this premixed can embraces an appreciative efficiency and screams “let’s get on with brunch.” Sip from the can or pour into a glass and gussy up with celery and any other accoutrements. And don’t fear the “Extra Spicy” label — the spiciness is entirely manageable.

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Bottom line: B+, Hearty and tastes like a Caesar!

Taylor Fladgate Chip Dry & Tonic, Portugal ($17.99 for four-250mL cans, available at select private liquors stores)

Admittedly, it’s also not like I’m going to regularly make Port-based cocktails (though that said, perhaps everyone should). In North American we still tend to treat Port as a special occasion, after dinner tipple. But Taylor & Fladgate’s new canned Chip Dry & Tonic is here to make the case of treating Port as an every day, easygoing cocktail companion. Chip Dry is a White Port introduced in 1934, and was always meant as an aperitif. Pre-mixed with tonic water and conveniently canned it provides a very portable, very refreshing fruity, citrus and herbal low-alcohol cocktail ready for all manner of picnics and backyard barbecues.

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Bottom line: B, Port + tonic = suave summer smasher

SpritzISH Premixed Cocktail, EU (around $3 for 250mL, at select grocery stores)

The Spritz is a long-loved (summer) aperitif, and it has just become even more versatile thanks to SpritzISH. Packing all the palate-cleansing, tastebud salivating qualities of a traditional Spritz, this canned version is actually non-alcoholic yet smells entirely Spritz-like with bright citrus and herbs, not to mention it brings amazingly engaging, earthy and bitter notes in a robust style overall that finishes with a lick of spice. Simply put, the alcohol is not missed. This is a totally refreshing, easygoing non-alcoholic aperitif ready to get the summer evening going — or even to sip solo as the sun sets.

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Bottom line: A, Bitter, engaging, delicious

The Swirl: Bard in the Valley

Shakespeare? In the vineyards? A perfect summer pairing, Bard in the Valley returns to Township 7’s Langley Vineyards and Winery for this summer’s performance of the comedic drama Measure for Measure. Performances at Township 7 (21152 16 Ave., Langley) take place July 14-17, with additional performances at Douglas Park (July 28-31) And Eco Dairy (Aug 4-7). Tickets for the Township 7 MainStage Production are $35 with the option for a picnic dinner. For complete details and to purchase head to 

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