These Ontario-made canned cocktails are perfect for park picnics
Lean into the new legislation by cracking a cold one
Thanks to the hard seltzer pandemonium several years back, good things now increasingly come in small packages. We’re talking about locally made seltzers, cute cans of rosé, and all sorts of other high-quality, easy-drinking beverages made in and around Toronto.
These aren’t cloying canned wines and mass-produced White Claws. As the demand for hard seltzers and other ready-to-drink cocktails has grown, serious bartenders, distilleries and wineries have caught wind and started producing canned beverages made with real spirits, wine and locally grown ingredients.
And as of this week, you can now crack these cans in one of 27 parks around the city, thanks to Toronto’s new pilot program. What should you be sipping to celebrate? Here, the province’s best canned offerings.
Darling Mimosa started as a pandemic side hustle, when three cocktail aficionados realized that—save for caesars—there were no brunch-type beverages on the LCBO’s shelves. So they set out to make excellent hair-of-the-dog drinks in canned form, capturing the fizz of prosecco with the freshness of juice. There are three flavours on offer now: orange, grapefruit, and pineapple, all ready to be cracked at whatever hour.
Out of century-old-barn-turned-farm-distillery, this PEC-based brand makes spiked sodas with a local lean. Instead of the neon flavours of mass-produced seltzers, newly-opened Wild Lot opts for all-Ontario ingredients, like vodka sodas made with haskap berries and apples, or gin sodas made with cherries. If you’re out that way, stop by and see the restored barn in all its glory (and grab an excellent burger from the on-site kitchen).
There’s a Wilda—a line of PEC-made canned drinks—for all kinds of sippers. Big into beer? The brand has a dry-hopped honey brew ringing in at just 4 per cent ABV. In the market for a locally made White Claw? Wilda offers a cucumber-and-lime spritzer or a cherry-spiked soda, both made with honey and fresh-pressed juice, and only 2.5 per cent ABV. And cocktail lovers will enjoy their boozy peach tea spritzer or Moscow Mule. Bonus: the spritzers are produced using local pollinator plants (save the bees!).
What happens when a distillery and a winery get together? A really nice hard seltzer, that’s what. The whiz kids at Willibald took a cherry mead from Rosewood, used it as a base for a hard seltzer, spiked it with lemon and yuzu and popped it in a can, making a seltzer that’s 5.1 per cent ABV but low in sugar. Also on Willibald’s canned roster: a hibiscus-limeade gin cocktail and a tropical G&T.
Just a few doors down from Civil Liberties is Civil Pours, a new project that trades shaken and stirred drinks in a sultry lit room for draught-poured cocktails on a sunny patio. While they may come out of a tap, each drink is hyper-precise and also comes bottled for any to-go needs. All of the cocktails are excellent, but the jalapeño margarita perfectly captures the pepper’s vegetal notes and spice.
Gin and tonics aren’t particularly tough to make, but who wants to haul a bottle of gin, a cooler of ice and cans of tonic to the park? Enter pre-mixed G&Ts from this east-end distillery. Also available: a single-serve blood orange negroni in a tiny bottle.
Sure, a crisp glass of rosé on a patio or in a park feels perfect. But wine can creep up in proof so, after a can or two, sometimes a nap is in order. Avling’s wine-ish sour is the easy medium. The pastel-hued sip spends time on cabernet sauvignon skins, giving the tart, floral beer its colour and a tannic backbone while remaining quenching, refreshing and crisp.
For when you want a drink that’s almost not a drink, there’s Burdock’s new grape seltzer. It’s made from third-use whole clusters of cabernet franc grapes that have been previously macerated with barrel-aged beer and bubbled with carbonated water for a super-easy-sipping seltzer. Think of it like amped-up La Croix: vibrant red, slightly grapey and highly thirst-quenching. And at a humble 1.2 per cent ABV, you can crack open cans all day long.
Tangerine and mint. Blackberry and elderflower. Black cherry and cranberry. Dillon’s canned cocktails (available in tall cans!) are primed for perfect-weather park hangs. Each incorporates the brand’s Niagara-made gin, natural flavouring and a heap of soda.
In the southern states, sliding a glass of Ranch Water across the bar in the summertime is somewhat of a tradition. And in this Texas-ish Toronto heat, the simple combination of tequila, lime and soda is an excellent remedy to the humidity. Georgian Bay Spirits Co. recently released their own answer to the drink: Wyatt Rose, a line of lime-spiked tequila sparklers in canned format. Think Yellowstone by way of cottage country.