16 Canned Whiskey Cocktails, Ranked Worst To Best

For any gathering with friends, there's nothing easier than pre-mixed, canned drinks. They're particularly handy in the summer months for those venues where glass bottles are forbidden — such as beach days and lakeside camping — but they are a convenient option any time. They combine the portability and convenience of a six pack of beer with the refinement of a cocktail party.

Canned cocktails have been around since the 1890s, but in recent years, this category of boozy beverages has grown exponentially. Today, it shows no signs of slowing down; imbibers can select from an impressive volume of vodka tonics, gin brambles, margaritas, and dozens of whiskey cocktail choices using bourbon, whiskey, whisky, and rye. The sheer range of selection is almost overwhelming, and it can be difficult sometimes to make an educated guess. With that in mind, here are 16 noteworthy canned whiskey cocktails, ranked as a group from worst to best.

16. Jack Daniels & Coca-Cola

Jack Daniels has been making their signature No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey since its founding in 1864, so it's safe to say they know what they're doing. The company has endured prohibition, wartime shutdowns, and supply shortages, and today it continues on as a quintessentially Southern libation. Sometime in the early 20th century, drinkers began mixing it with Coca-Cola; the Jack & Coke cocktail was born.

While not particularly sophisticated, Jack & Coke is a standard mixed drink for home mixologists because it's an easy-to-make, popular beverage. Coca-Cola's sweetness offsets the spice and burn of Jack Daniels' American whiskey, and the vanilla notes from oak-aged spirits complement cola flavors. Two all-American beverages, married together in a simple but stellar combination.

At 7.0% ABV, Jack Daniels Old No. 7 mixed with Coca-Cola canned cocktail drinks like a beer. Similar to the mixed drink that inspired it, there's nothing surprising or groundbreaking here, but it gives you a convenient premixed option for parties, barbecues, and poolside hangouts. While no one will be blown away, a Coca-Cola lightly spiked with Jack Daniel's does its job. It doesn't feel like Jack Daniel's made a huge effort here, but there's nothing wrong with delivering an easy-to-drink classic.

15. Jameson Ginger & Lime

Hailing from Ireland, Jameson has been distilling whiskey since 1780. Unsurprisingly, they make Irish whiskey, rather than the Tennessee, Canadian, or Bourbon varieties. Irish whiskey is aged for a minimum of 3 years in used bourbon barrels, and uses less corn than stateside bourbon whiskies.

At a relatively low 6.0% ABV, Jameson Ginger & Lime is lighter on the alcohol, making it a nice option for summer afternoons. If you love Jameson you're likely to be disappointed, however, as this drink is very sweet. It has a strong, creamy vanilla taste and resembles cream soda more than a whiskey drink. That sweetness, however, might make it more palatable for non-whiskey drinkers.

Jameson Ginger & Lime is straightforward; there's nothing to complain about, but it just doesn't wow. It's too strong for non-whiskey drinkers, too sweet for whiskey lovers. It's a mellow, easy-drinking cocktail that ultimately seems unlikely to please either crowd.

14. Sagamore Spirit Pineapple Ryegarita

Sagamore Spirit Distillery out of Baltimore, Maryland specializes in Maryland-style rye whiskey. They stormed onto the scene in 2017, earning accolades for their core spirits. They've now made a few forays into the canned cocktail arena, with four rye-based canned cocktails on offer.

Their Pineapple Ryegarita has a mellow 7% ABV and straightforward ingredient list printed right on the can: rye whiskey, lime juice, pineapple juice, agave syrup, and natural chipotle flavor. It's fruit-forward so it smells amazing, like a tropical escape. The agave sweetener brings more complexity than sugarcane, enhancing the margarita vibes. The flavor of the rye whiskey does compete  with the sweetness of the pineapple. It's not quite a margarita, but it's not quite a rye cocktail either. 

Although this is a refreshing summer quencher that begs to be sipped on a sandy beach, it isn't at the top of the canned whiskey cocktail list; heck, it's not even Sagamore's best canned cocktail. It's good, but Sagamore can (and does) do better.

13. Cutwater Whiskey Mule

San Diego distiller Cutwater Spirits was a pioneer in canned cocktails and a driving forces behind today's RTD beverage craze. After its founding in 2016, it was so wildly successful that it was acquired by Anheuser-Busch in February 2019. Today, Cutwater produces 18 varieties of canned cocktails using Cutwater liquors, and is one of the most recognizable brands in its category.

The Cutwater Whiskey Mule features Cutwater's Black Skimmer Bourbon, lime, ginger and bitters in a 7.0% ABV. The ginger is more sharply pronounced than Jameson's Ginger and Lime, and as a result the drink is lighter, brighter, crisper, and more aromatic. It's a fairly standard Moscow mule with whiskey subbed in for vodka. It's a solid, basic whiskey mule but nothing extraordinary. It tastes like something you'd be able to create yourself at home pretty easily.

12. Cardinal Spirits Bourbon Cream Soda

As a relative newcomer to the craft spirits scene, Indiana-based Cardinal Spirits opened in February 2015 with their debut offering, a vodka. In the years since, they've introduced rum, gin, liqueurs, whiskey and canned cocktails to their lineup, including Cardinal Spirits Bourbon Cream Soda, which is their Straight Bourbon Whiskey mixed with real Madagascar vanilla beans and cream soda. Clocking in at 8.5% ABV, it's a grown-up version of a nostalgic childhood treat.

It smells incredible when you first lift it to your lips, even if the flavor begins a bit harsh before it mellows into a deliciously creamy vanilla. You get a whiff of the whiskey mash almost like you're seated at the distillery itself. This one scores points for being more inventive than most, and bourbon enthusiasts will enjoy actually tasting the bourbon in this mixture (much to the chagrin of non-bourbon drinkers). Still, it doesn't rise to the level of true love; you might enjoy smelling it more than drinking it. It's enough to get you excited about what imaginative canned cocktails Cardinal will come up with next.

11. Spirited Hive Bourbon Rosemary

Established in 2020, the youthful, enthusiastic Spirited Hive calls Nashville home. While it has only been around for a few short years, Spirited Hive has already made a splash with its specialty beverages: Canned cocktails, sweetened with honey. The name references a hive of friends and shared community, as well as the literal hive that produces the honey for their crafted cocktails.

Spirited Hive Bourbon Rosemary features bourbon whiskey infused with rosemary, lemon, honey, and other natural flavors. At 7% ABV, it has an alcohol content in the vicinity of a typical beer. The most striking quality is its initial scent of rosemary, which evokes an earthy, resinous quality before you even begin drinking. 

With rosemary, lemon, honey, and bourbon, one might expect this to be a cold-weather drink akin to a hot toddy, but it's actually refreshing and summery. It does have a distinct herbal flavor and an almost wheat finish, but it's quite light. In fact, it might be a little too light, almost to the point of feeling watered down. The honey does a lot of the work in this mixture, adding unmistakable richness to the character of the beverage. Spirited Hive has a fantastic concept and clearly puts a lot of passion into what they are doing, making them one to watch.

10. Crown Royal Peach Tea

Crown Royal began in 1939 in Manitoba Canada, when its signature blended Canadian whisky was formulated. It was intended as a gift for the English King and Queen, but proved wildly popular amongst commoners in more than one British colony. After Crown Royal was released in the United States in the 1960s, it rose to become the top-selling Canadian whisky. Canadian whisky does not have the same grain requirements as bourbon, and as a blended whisky, Crown Royal uses five different mash bills (mixes of grains) and multiple individual whiskies that are blended together into the final product. Canadian whisky is similar to American bourbon, but is a bit spicier and less sweet.

Crown Royal Peach Tea is a still canned cocktail, in contrast to the predominantly carbonated beverages on the market. It tastes like a pleasantly spiked glass of Southern-style sweet peach tea. None of the flavors compete with each other, the whisky spice complements rather than overpowers the tea, and the tea doesn't mask but enhances the whisky. It's enough to make you want to sit on a veranda and fan yourself as you start speaking with a drawl. It is just lovely, y'all.

9. Jim Beam Classic Highball

The James B. Beam distillery has been making Kentucky Bourbon for more than 200 years, since 1795. Their flagship spirit, Jim Beam, is one of the world's top-selling bourbons and they have stuck by their original recipe for centuries. They currently offer only a few ready-to-drink cocktails: a Ginger Ale Highball, Kentucky Cooler, and a Seltzer Highball. 

The Jim Beam Classic Highball has no right to be as delicious as it is. It's extremely simple: just Jim Beam bourbon, seltzer, and a hint of citrus. At a very light 5.0% ABV, it packs a modest 105 calories. Yet, it's astonishingly wonderful. 

Jim Beam has to have done some kind of witchcraft to elevate this one beyond its unremarkable ingredient list. Chalk it up to well-earned confidence in their whiskey, or the low alcohol content, or the exact right amount of lemon and orange flavor, but this one perfectly balances the warm spices from Jim Beam bourbon with light refreshing seltzer. It doesn't have any of the sickly sweetness of the soda pop-flavored beverages. Instead, the bourbon takes the spotlight and gets a chance to shine in this libation.

8. Crown Royal Whisky Lemonade

As a purveyor of blended Canadian whisky, Crown Royal knows how to combine flavors to optimal effect. They demonstrate their mixing expertise with Crown Royal Whisky Lemonade, which contains 5% lemon juice mixed with Crown Royal for a bubbly, perfectly balanced cocktail that's not too sweet but not too sour. It doesn't taste overly acidic or too strongly of lemon, but strikes a Goldilocks-worthy middle ground. The lemon is bright, not puckering, and the carbonation adds zing and lift. It's so harmonious, you almost can't taste the 7.0% ABV, so it feels alarmingly easy to overindulge.

Crown Royal Whisky Lemonade strikes a chord with whisky drinkers and haters alike, earning it a high ranking in the canned whisky cocktail domain. It's so versatile that it could be enjoyed in almost any setting, and it has mass appeal, so it's a great standby to stock up on and share with friends.

7. Sagamore Spirit Grapefruit Paloma

Sagamore Spirit Grapefruit Paloma is the definitive winner amongst their Maryland-style rye canned cocktails. It pairs Sagamore Spirit's Rye Whiskey with red grapefruit juice, lime juice, agave and natural honey flavor. Grapefruit's natural bitterness and distinctive brightness effortlessly complements the spicy cinnamon and clove notes of the rye. The citrus and honey in the mixer are a natural coupling for the honey and citrus peel in the spirit. 

Don't come at this one expecting it to be a tequila Paloma — it isn't — but if you approach it with an open mind, you might appreciate its unique qualities. The rich honey flavor and smooth whiskey aroma are nicely showcased against the brightness of the grapefruit and lime. It's a real winner; Sagamore Honey Paloma has racked up a number of medals at the Canned Adult Beverages Competition, including a 2nd place Best of Show in 2021.

6. Mt. Hood Barrel Aged Old Fashioned

The founders of 503 Distilling out of Portland, Oregon, were motivated to create canned craft cocktails because they yearned for something to take on that most PNW of all activities: hiking. There's a clear pride of place that runs throughout the business: 503 Distilling takes its name from the Portland area code, they routinely incorporate locally-focused ingredients like marionberries, huckleberries, and fellow Portlanders Bitter Housewife bitters into their cocktails. They even named their Barrel Aged Old Fashioned for Oregon's highest peak, the iconic Mt. Hood.

At a whopping 20% ABV, this is a strong concoction, so it comes in a smaller 200ml size which 503 Distilling lists as two servings per can. It also carries a hefty price tag. Unlike the majority of canned whiskey cocktails, this is a true spirit-forward cocktail. 

The beverage itself feels like something you would find at a bar, not a backyard barbecue. It's an old fashioned with some quirky Portland twists, like using maple syrup and hazelnut bitters. It's smooth and mellow, with less alcohol burn than you'd expect. The hazelnut bitters bring toasty nuttiness, along with a strong helping of warming spice from black peppercorn and anise flavor from the gentian root. It's best served over ice, which lets the spicy complexity unfold to its fullest. This one is for people who want a true whiskey cocktail to take on the go.

5. Dry Fly Whiskey Smash

Further north in Spokane, Dry Fly distillers pursues a farm-to-bottle approach in all their products. Their award-winning Washington Whiskey is made with 100% wheat, sourced from family farms within 30 miles of their distillery. Since it uses only wheat in its mash bill, and a very specific wheat at that, Dry Fly Washington Whiskey has a completely different flavor profile than Tennessee Bourbon or Maryland Rye.

Dry Fly mixes that one-of-a-kind whiskey with mint, lemon, and strawberry to bring the Dry Fly Whiskey Smash. With a mild 5.8% ABV, it's almost a session cocktail. 

Since low-alcohol beverages are rising in popularity, this may ultimately prove a shrewd move from Dry Fly. One thing is certain: they've created a delightful, citrusy and bright cocktail here. It's sour but sweet. You notice the citrus and the berries, but not much of a noticeable whiskey flavor. The mint cools things down and provides herbaceous freshness. It has a bit of a puckery mouthfeel from the tart lemon, a welcome element against the sweet berry flavors. It's very packable and perfect for enjoying outdoors.

4. Heritage Distilling Co. Peachy Bourbon

Heritage Distilling is a majority women-owned enterprise that also comes out of the Pacific Northwest. Their distillery is run out of Gig Harbor, Washington (where they make vodkas, gins, and whiskeys) and they also operate tasting rooms throughout Washington and Oregon. They're garnered the most awards from the American Distilling Institute of any craft distillery in North America.

Their Peachy Bourbon canned craft cocktail is a gorgeous pairing of rich bourbon in all its vanilla-caramel glory and intensely fruity peach in a sparkling, delicately-balanced cocktail. A hint of lemon lightens things up, so it's slightly sweet but still grounded, and natural sweeteners allow the peach fruit to dance playfully with the fizz. 

HDC recommends giving the can a gentle flip before you drink it, chilled in a glass or from the can. This one is a hands-down favorite for everyone from spirits enthusiasts to those who prefer beer, both equally as likely to appreciate its superior quality and approachable flavor.

3. Tip Top Proper Cocktails Old Fashioned

Tip Top Proper Cocktails is an outlier among the canned cocktail community. They are not a distiller that branched out into ready-to-drink beverages, but were instead built from the start with the intention of perfecting canned classic cocktails. Their focus is — and always has been — mixing and canning a proper cocktail.

It makes sense, then, that their products most closely resemble an actual cocktail from a bartender, rather than cocktail-inspired fizzy drinks. They boast that their cocktails are "Always balanced, never too sweet" and they're nailing it. The Tip Top Old Fashioned, for example, feels sophisticated and refined. There's nothing extremely creative or inventive about one of the oldest classic cocktails in the book, but Tip Top does it sublimely well.

At 37% ABV, it packs such a wallop that a small 100mL can is considered one serving. It's also among the pricier options out there, averaging more than double a cost per serving than most competitors. It may be less suited to a barbecue or lounging by the pool, but that's not what it's for. This portable potable feels like taking a swanky bartender with you on your adventures. It feels posh and elegant.

2. Betty Booze Sparkling Bourbon

Actress Blake Lively founded the Betty Buzz line of sparkling beverages on a foundation of making beverages with real, uncomplicated ingredients that "read like a grocery list." This ready to drink cocktail offshoot, Betty Booze, has the same guiding principle: "Real cocktails made with real food."

Betty Booze's whiskey cocktail, Sparkling Bourbon, carries a sense of stylish glamour in its sleek, 355mL rose gold cans. Inside, it uses bourbon whiskey, apple, sour cherry, ginger, and sparkling water to make a charming, effervescent pink cocktail that soars above other ginger canned cocktails. Betty Booze Sparkling Bourbon has a strong ginger flavor, but it's not just ginger; sweet apple and tart cherries mingle with the warm spice from bourbon, so the flavor unfurls in beautiful warm complexity as you sip it. It has a broad appeal and a very low ABV (just 4.5%), making it one of the absolute best picks in the canned whiskey cocktails category.

1. Social Hour Cocktails George Dickel Bourbon Smash

Social Hour Cocktails founders Julie Reiner and Tom Macy have decades of experience at some of New York City's most illustrious cocktail bars, including the renowned Clover Club, which Julie founded and Tom joined in 2009. Together, they conceived Social Hour canned cocktails, determined to use their shared knowledge to create canned beverages that would bring people together.

Since its launch in the summer of 2020, Social Hour has gained legions of adoring fans and racked up numerous accolades. Their newest launch, the George Dickel Bourbon Smash, is described as "a mint julep meets a whiskey sour." It starts with George Dickel 8-year aged Bourbon and adds notes of tart Meyer lemon and fresh muddled mint for a luxurious summer sipper. It's pleasantly sour, with top notes of sweet mint, while the quality of that aged George Dickel Bourbon comes through with rich complexity and smooth oakiness. This one is so sublime it's hard to share, but you ought to try; it's quite potent at 20% ABV, so a 250 mL can is meant to serve three. Hey, it is social hour after all.