Summer’s here, and with it, the great pleasure that is imbibing at the beach. Here are our picks for drinking on the sand… and at outdoor concerts and movies, on rooftops, at picnics, and basically anywhere else you might want a boozy beverage al fresco.
Let’s get this out of the way from the start: In most parts of the U.S., it’s illegal to drink in a public place. So we’re not going to tell you that you should actually bring any booze with you to the beach. Or to the park. Or to an outdoor movie or concert. It potentially means a fine of hundreds of dollars. But you’ll likely do it anyway this summer. So if you do, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
Keep it simple. Opening a conventional wine bottle with a corkscrew can be a production. Worse, if no one remembers a corkscrew, you’ll be S.O.L. in the sand. And you definitely don’t want to be mixing cocktails at the beach. It’s indiscreet, it’s impractical (you don’t want to carry a shaker or mixing glass and spoon with you), and it distracts you from time spent with your friends. Stick with ready-to-drink sips.
Keep it canned. A canned drink is the way to go. Avoid glass. Not only are cans more discreet—from a distance, it looks like you’re drinking soda—but you also don’t have to worry about forgetting your corkscrew, or about breakage. (Believe me, nothing ruins a perfectly good picnic like stepping on a shard of broken glass.) And your options are no longer limited to beer: Wines (both still and sparkling) are now available in cans, as are an array of pre-mixed cocktails. You’ve got options.
Keep it light. On a hot day, you want something refreshing and thirst-quenching. Sessionable, lower-ABV drinks are best. Avoid brown liquor, dark beers, or tannic full-bodied red wines—and when you’re dealing with spirits, make sure they’re well-diluted with non-alcoholic mixers. Aim for no more than about 10 to 12 percent ABV in whatever you’re sipping on. Booze hits you harder when you’re in the sun, and it’s no good to be that passed-out person at the picnic.
Keep it cool. Wine, in particular, is prone to heat damage—which means that warm wine is not only as unpalatable as warm beer, but its flavor will change after prolonged exposure to heat. A couple of hours outside, like at a picnic or outdoor concert, isn’t a big deal, but if you’re planning for a long day at the beach, keep your cans in a cooler to preserve their flavors.
Here are a few of our current obsessions…
This brand-new release from Brooklyn-based brewery and distillery Interboro is a canned version of the classic veranda-sipping cocktail. It’s stunningly good: flavorful and balanced, with a dry, refreshing finish. If we were served this in a bar we’d consider it one of the very best G&T’s we’ve ever had, so it’s doubly awesome that it’s available in a go-anywhere can. Interboro combines its Goodwin Hill gin, tonic, and a healthy splash of lime to create this ready-to-drink highball in a 355 ml can—and they’ve told us they have plans in the works for further variations on the drink later this summer. At this time, the Gin & Tonic is currently available only at the East Williamsburg distillery.
If any country knows something about drinking citrusy cocktails on sandy beaches, it’s Brazil. Its national drink, the caipirinha (made with cachaça, lime, and sugar) is newly available in ready-to-drink form from Novo Fogo, premixed in a petite 200 ml can perfect for sipping in the sun. You get a fair amount of funk from the cachaça (a rum-like spirit made from cane sugar and celebrated for its herbaceousness) in this one, so it’s great to drink with picnic grub.
Wine coolers, those staples of the 1980s, are back—and tasting better than ever before. Ramona comes courtesy of the beverage director for the Momofuku restaurant group, and it’s simply delicious. A mildly sparkling mix of rosé wine and grapefruit juice, it starts off tasting like a perfect pink grapefruit Jelly Belly (our favorite flavor) and finishes dry and slightly bitter, like a toned-down sip of actual pink grapefruit juice. Crushable and relatively low-ABV at just 7.5 percent, it’s perfect for drinking under the hot sun. Plus, the graphics on the slim 250 ml can are totally Instagram-ready.
Alloy Wine Works’ crowd-pleaser of a rosé isn’t just great for wine in a can; it’s simply a really enjoyable wine overall, with a lot of tropical fruit and a satisfying hint of sourness; medium-bodied but light enough in flavor for sipping from a beach chair. It comes sized for sharing: in tallboys, 500 ml cans, each holding around three glasses worth of wine or so. And at 12.5 percent ABV, it’s a little dangerously easy-drinking. Aptly named, too: We’d happily drink this rosé every day.
A sophisticated pick from the Pays D’Oc in the south of France, Maris Rosé is a bold wine that’s flavorful and structured enough to drink with anything you might throw on the grill at a beach cookout. It’s biodynamically grown, made with organic grapes, and packaged in an elegant 250 ml BPA-free can. The ABV is the same 12.5 percent as the Alloy Rosé, but since this wine is fuller-bodied, you likely won’t be tempted to gulp this one quite so quickly.
Scarpetta is a project from a couple of French Laundry alums, one of them a master sommelier. Their canned Frico Bianco Frizzante is lightly sparkling and reminiscent of a nice prosecco, simple and easy-drinking, with notes of stone fruits and a mild florality. Each 187 ml can equals a quarter-bottle of wine, and at just 10 percent ABV, it’s a fun guilty pleasure that will leave you with the perfect mild buzz.
A pioneer on the canned wine scene a few years back, Underwood recently added two sparkling wines—a blanc and a rosé—to its canned lineup which already included three still wines: pinot noir, pinot gris, and rosé. Both sparkling wines are currently sold out everywhere in the NYC area until the new vintage drops next month; the entire range is wine-snob approved and perfect for picnics and other summer happenings. Be warned: The 375 ml cans each contain a half-bottle’s worth of wine, so don’t drink it like it’s soda.