Instant Canned Cocktails

Junzi juice box cocktails
Junzi juice box cocktails

The ready-to-drink (RTD) craft cocktails trend is on fire, with new launches hitting the market practically every month. There’s no shortage of options for consumers who just want to pop open a can to enjoy a cocktail, but some bars are getting creative by mixing and serving drinks right in the can.

New York bar Genuine Liquorette has become known for its Cha-Chunkers, unconventional cocktail presentations involving cans and mini liquor bottles. For instance, its version of a Mojito involves a nip bottle of Cruzan white rum upended into a can of Sprite with lime and mint. The Pina Colada Cha-Chunker cocktail, served in an open can of pineapple juice with upended bottle of Malibu rum, with a pineapple leaf for a straw, has been one of the bar’s best sellers.

Not that you have to use a can. Junzi Kitchen, a quick-service Chinese food experience that opened earlier this year in New York, forgoes the can for a box. For its Junzi After Hours, a special late-night menu of quick eats and fun drinks launched in earlier this month, Junzi added Chinese juice box cocktails in such combinations as lemon tea/Jim Beam (bourbon or whiskey); chrysanthemum tea/Tanqueray gin; lychee juice/Smirnoff vodka; and mango juice/Jose Cuervo tequila.


“Make no mistake about it: This drink is as rudimentary as shoving a 50-ml. of liquor into a Chinese juice box,” says Junzi chef Lucas Sin. “This is the type of fun drink that just works.”

Soft drink suppliers are encouraging the practice of instant canned cocktails. The 135-year-old seltzer company Polar recently launched the highly mixable Seltzer’ade line, which includes Raspberry Pink Lemonade, Watermelon Lemonade, Tart Cherry Limeade, Blueberry Lemonade and Mango Limeade flavors. To tap into the house-made canned cocktails trend, the company promoted a number of “recipes” this past summer.

For instance, to make an instant Spiked Mango Limeade, Polar says to pour out 2 oz. of the Mango Limeade from a chilled can. Then add in the same amount of chilled Domain de Canton ginger liqueur and insert a straw into the can.

Bartenders could create a number of unique combinations with flavored seltzers and mini liquor bottles to offer fun, trendy and slightly healthier drinks. They’re also easy to execute, even for a high-volume operation.