pret-a-boire cocktails in a can

We tried out 15 Quebec prêt-à-boire cocktails in a can

Reviews by Erik Leijon and Yara El-Soueidi.

One visit to your local dep or SAQ and it’ll be pretty evident what’s in this summer: prêts-à-boire. It makes perfect sense. They’re portable, boozy and, well, what else do you need? It doesn’t hurt that a number of recognizable local brands are riding the ready-to-drink train in cocktail flavours you’re already familiar with.

But for the discerning drinker, are these just a temporary placeholder with terrasses once again open? We tried a couple and did our best sommelier impressions to give a sense of which cans to crush and which to leave on the shelves.

As a whole, they’re pretty sweet and make a poor substitute for actual hydration because the dry mouth will hit you harder than the hangover. Some of these are malt- (grocery store, dep) or booze- (SAQ) based. Drink responsibly, and with water in-between.

Kokomo Cocktail Watermelon Cucumber

Where to begin with Kokomo Cocktail Watermelon Cucumber? The prêt-à-boire product from Glacier Factory, a Quebec company that specializes in alcoholic popsicles, looks and sounds like a great combination of flavours at first, but once drunk, it is a complete fiasco of flavours. It has nothing but the smell of watermelon and the artificial cucumber notes hit the strongest making it an oddity rather than a pleasurable experience. Unless you really want to surprise your friends, leave it in the alcoholic drink section.

For more information, please visit the Glacier Factory website.

Wabasso Gin Conifère

prêt-à-boire cocktails in a can
Wabasso Gin Conifère (We tried out these Quebec prêt-à-boire cocktails in a can)

Courtesy of Distillerie Wabasso in Trois-Rivières, this one doesn’t suffer from the overwhelming sweetness of some of its brethren. It has that spruce beer essence and the rosemary provides an added herbal touch. The result is something refreshing and aromatic, like non-alcoholic spruce beer, with a 7% kick.

For more information, please visit the Distillerie Wabasso website.

White Claw Raspberry Hard Seltzer

If you’ve gone to a park as of late for a friendly 5 à 7 with your friends, chances are that you’ve already drunk White Claw, Montreal’s newest obsession. Everyone has been talking about it and what at first seemed like an ironic choice is now adopted by every single soul in this city. White Claw Raspberry is their newest of two flavours — the other one being Watermelon — and it doesn’t disappoint. Not too overpowering or sweet, it is a drink of choice if you’re stuck at the closest dépanneur and don’t want to buy beer. The Raspberry flavour is close to the real thing and it leaves you refreshed…but thirsty for more.

For more information, please visit the White Claw website.

Gin de Mononcle Bière d’Épinette

Quebec prêt-à-boire cocktails in a can
Gin de Mononcle Bière d’Épinette (We tried out these Quebec prêt-à-boire cocktails in a can)

Stamped with the Au Pied de Cochon seal of approval and inspired by their Sugar Shack cocktail, this gin-based prêt-à-boire carries a little too much of that sweet aftertaste for what should be a wooded beverage. It’s still undeniably rooted in spruce beer, although that lingering sweetness can mask some of the more subtle flavours.

For more information, please visit the Au Pied de Cochon website.

Amermelade Spritz

Aperol Spritz has been the summer drink for quite a while now. Spiritueux Iberville’s Amermelade is one of the few options of local Aperol on the market. With Amermelade Spritz, they offer a great prêt-à-boire cocktail that will sweeten your park dates or your classier hangouts with friends on your balcony. It is a little bit sweet, so may we suggest drinking it with moderation so the sugar and 7% alcohol doesn’t hit too hard the next day.

For more information, please visit the Spiritueux Iberville website.

Romeo’s Gin+Tonic, Spritz and Fizz

Romeo’s Gin Spritz and Fizz (We tried out these Quebec prêt-à-boire cocktails in a can)

One popular dry gin brand from Montreal, three flavours: classic G&T, a Fizz with cucumber and lemon, and a Spritz with blood orange and rhubarb. All enticing prospects, but something was indeed amiss: they all kinda taste the same. Granted, the Gin+Tonic is arguably the gold standard in Quebec prêts-à-boire for easy drinking and approximation of the real deal, but the other two aren’t as adventurous as one might hope — especially the Spritz with blood orange and rhubarb, which didn’t really capture either element. So considering they’re all minor variations on each other, stick with the original.

For more information, please visit the Romeo’s Gin website.

Tiki Bar Lemon Coconut and Grapefruit Ginger

Unapologetically the fruitiest of the bunch, but based on colourful packaging and tiki theme, it’s undoubtedly by design. And you know what? These cans decide to go the sweet route and succeed where more complex offerings might falter. They basically taste like Kool-Aid, and that’s going to appeal to your inner child.

For more information, please visit the Aliments du Québec website.

Miele Sour Lemonade

Les Spiritueux Iberville decided to go all in with an Amaretto Lemonade prêt-à-boire. Made with their delicious  golden Miele Amaretto (made from honey and almonds) and sparkling lemonade, it has everything to become a favourite of 2021. Surprisingly, it reminds us of Sprite or 7up at first, but it is the honey and amaretto notes that take control after a few sips. Its sweetness comes from the amaretto rather than sugar which is a good twist. Drink it cold for a better experience.

For more information, please visit the Spiritueux Iberville website.

Comont Paloma

Quebec prêt-à-boire cocktails in a can
Comont Paloma (We tried out these Quebec prêt-à-boire cocktails in a can)

Finally, something tequila-based! Or should I say “agave-spirit”? If you’re going to chug a four-pack of cans, and we heartily recommend you don’t, make it this lightly sweet beaut. Really unobtrusive citrus zest mixing grapefruit, lime and blood orange. A clean soda finish as well. And at 4.5%, probably closer to a light beer in more ways than one. 

For more information, please visit the Comont website.

Distillerie de Montréal Rosemont Mojito Épicé

How you feel about Rosemont spiced rum will dictate how you feel here. Their made-in-the-Petite-Patrie base is strongly spiced to say the least. This can isn’t quite like chugging straight rum from the bottle, but the taste is undeniable and not for everyone. It’s got a sparkling water pep to it that makes it essential to drink straight from the cooler, and you’ll be rewarded with hints of lime, mint, cranberry and spices for your efforts.

For more information, please visit the Distillerie de Montréal website.

OSHLAG Ginto Nectar

This is the prêt-à-boire that will show your friends that drinking a cocktail from a can is a pleasurable experience. OSHLAG’s Ginto Nectar is not too sweet and flavourful and closer to a classy cocktail you’d get at a fancy bar. Its notes of honey and peach are exquisite, but unfortunately, we barely taste any rosemary. This being said, it doesn’t take anything away from this gem. At 7%, this can be quite dangerous as it will definitely catch up on you without you even being able to stop — as we have experienced it.

For more information, please visit the Oshlag website.

Sainte-Marie Mojito

Sainte-Marie Mojito (We tried out these Quebec prêt-à-boire cocktails in a can)

The mojitos don’t fare well in this format, because no one likes them overly sweet and that tends to be an inevitability here. From Rhum Sainte-Marie, this can doesn’t overdo it with flavours, but it just can’t get the freshness of mint and squeezed lime with that saccharine undercurrent. By no means a poor effort, if you’re jonesing for the memory of your last beach vacation, this won’t shatter that fantasy.

For more information, please visit the SAQ website.

Les Îles Spritz

With its colourful packaging, les Îles spritz is the fun, lighter version of an Aperol Spritz. At first sip, this reminds us of iced sweet tea — maybe because of the Labrador tea found in the ingredients? Yes, it is very sweet, maybe sweeter than a lot of the others mentioned here. Surprisingly, in this case, the sweetness works to the advantage of the drink. It’s a prêt-à-boire made for sun tan by the pool.

For more information, please visit the SAQ website.

Les Vergers Lafrance Rouge Gorge Spritz

Ever wanted a negroni in a can? Vergers Lafrance’s Rouge Gorge Spritz is the closest you will get. Made with cider and their Rouge Gorge, a red vermouth, this cider cocktail is pleasurable. Instead of going on the sweet side, it is rich and tart. Unfortunately, after a can, we feel a little bit sickened by its very syrupy taste even if we liked it at first.

For more information, please visit the Domaine Lafrance website.

Beach Club Beach Day Every Day Pineapple and Coconut seltzer

NO. There’s not much to say but NO. Is it the flavour picked, the awful malt aftertaste, the fact that it tastes super artificial? Maybe Beach Day Everyday shouldn’t go the seltzer route. If you really want to go with Oli Primeau’s brand, stick to the Beach Peach one sold at the SAQ. You’ll thank us later.

For more information, please visit the Beach Day Every Day website.

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