The ready-to-drink cocktail category certainly isn’t new, but after the reign of White Claw Summer and a pandemic that has crippled the bar industry, canned drinks and hard seltzers (and the convenience that comes with them) are hotter than ever. You can find high-quality versions of everything from Negronis to Palomas stocked in colorful cans at local stores, but one RTD cocktail we didn’t see coming was Ranch Water, the classic West Texas drink typically made with Topo Chico, lime water, and tequila. Perhaps we should have, though. The cocktail itself has been having a moment, and Ranch Water’s no-frills nature is well suited to the canned life.
Several Texas companies are now offering their take on the beloved drink — from a hard seltzer version to canned cocktails with real tequila — further solidifying Ranch Water as an it drink of the moment. After an impromptu taste test, PaperCity staffers (who are, and we can’t stress this enough, not cocktail critics) shared their thoughts and their favorites.
Lone River Ranch
80 Calories | 4 percent ABV
The 80-calorie hard seltzer from the West Texas-based company uses 100% organic agave and natural lime juice. ($8.99 for a six-pack)
– This is a light and refreshing version of the classic, but doesn’t include real tequila. I think it’s great for hot weather or for by the pool as a tasty hard seltzer. At only 80 calories, it’s very easy drinking.
– I can definitely taste the lime in this one. It’s very lime-y. But this seltzer tastes surprisingly like a true Ranch Water out of a Topo Chico bottle. A very light one though. You could drink it all day.
– This one is good and goes down nicely.
– This one doesn’t taste like a true Ranch Water to me. More like sparkling water.
150 Calories | 7 percent ABV
The newest entry into the canned Ranch Water market is based in Dallas and uses real tequila. ($12.99 for a four-pack)
– This is the heaviest out of the three. It definitely has a more flavorful kick that some might enjoy (as well as the most alcohol at 7 percent), but wasn’t as enjoyable as the other two for me.
– I don’t know mixology terminology but this tastes very “full.” If that makes sense. You can definitely taste the tequila.
– I like this one but there is something I can’t put my finger on that tastes a bit off compared to the other. Maybe a bit tart?
– This one is both super light and very flavorful. It’s a good pool day drink.
Ranch Rider Spirits
119 Calories | 6 percent ABV
The Austin-based brand sources premium reposado tequila from Jalisco, Mexico. ($12.99 for a four-pack)
– Ranch Rider is the perfect combination of real tequila, while being lighter on sugar (only 0.4 grams) and still providing the flavor and kick of a non-canned Ranch Water. Also, the can is very pretty.
– I weirdly didn’t love this on the first sip but I did a full 180 on the second. This one is it. I also feel like Ranch Rider could really decimate me (in a good way) on a hot Texas day.
– I really like this, I think the portions are perfect and I like the subtle taste of actual tequila.
– This one definitely tastes the closest to a real deal Ranch Water. I also really love the Paloma this brand makes.
The Winner: Ranch Rider Spirits
The Austin-based Ranch Rider Spirits was unanimously crowned the winner, though we wouldn’t kick any of these cans out of the pool party. You just can’t beat that premium reposado.