Restaurants / Bars

Canned Cocktails Get a Beachy Austin Twist — The Ready to Drink Super Trend Goes Watertight

Keeping It 100 Percent Real

BY // 03.30.22
photography Dani Parsons

If you were in college in the 1980s, you likely recall the ubiquitous rise of the bottled wine cooler, complete with a twist-off top. Those sweet, sometimes carbonated, low alcohol beverages were made with cheap white wines (think Chablis, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio) and infused with fruit juices. Or more likely artificial flavorings that resembled fruit juices plus sugar, lots and lots of sugar.

For those who scoffed at bad keg beer at parties, it was an alternative, albeit one that eventually faded when in 1991, congress raised the tax levied against wines dramatically, and producers of those wine coolers began swapping out wine for a less expensive neutral malt-based alcohol alternative.

Those malt-based beverages eventually gave way to the huge hard seltzer trend in full force now, where companies like White Claw, Boston Beer’s Truly Hard Selzer and Mike’s Hard Lemonade brought to market canned hard seltzers that contain typically five percent (malt derived) alcohol by volume (ABV) while being gluten free, containing less sugar and coming in lower in calories than many comparable drinks.

The hard seltzer industry represents a more than two billion dollar niche in the ready-to-drink market (RTD). The rapidly growing canned cocktail segment with offerings like margaritas, bloody Marys and vodka mules is fast becoming a convenient tipple option, too.

It’s no surprise the pandemic spurred the growth of this sector. According to the website Backbar, which tracks trends in the liquor industry: “The big boom for hard seltzer and the ready-to-drink category began in 2019 and may have peaked in 2020 with liquor stores and retail shops that benefitted from restaurant shutdowns and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the age of craft cocktails where bartenders are the new chefs, creating artisan-inspired tinctures with fresh-pressed juices, infused liquors, spices and herbs, the bar has been raised for American diners in more ways than one. But for those who desire a convenient cocktail to-go or a variety of different sorts to serve, the RTD canned cocktail is a no-prep, no mess, easy alternative to making your own.

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Now, the Austin-based Watertight Cocktail Company is launching “an adult refresher” in a can that boasts all three of its mixed drink varieties are made with nothing less than 100 percent real ingredients. Watertight’s Beach Margarita contains real lime and orange juices, sweetened with agave nectar, while the Guava Paloma combines Texas-grown Rio Red grapefruit juice with lime juice and fresh guava puree. Lastly, the Mango Sipper is simply a blend of real mango puree with fresh orange and lime juices. While the alcohol kick comes courtesy of blue agave wine in the Guava Paloma and Beach Margarita and orange wine in the Mango Sipper.

Watertight Products (Photo by Dani Parsons)
Watertight Cocktails are all about a chilled scene. (Photo by Dani Parsons)

The duo which created Watertight Cocktails is no stranger to the alcohol business. Observing the rapid rise in the Ready to Drink industry in the fall of 2020, co-founders of Yellow Rose Distilling and Revolver Brewing — Ryan Baird and Rhett Keisler respectively — saw an opening in the market for a 100 percent real canned cocktail. The pair wanted to mix a drink you could enjoy almost anywhere and one that is clean, crisp and devoid of those fake manufactured flavors. Not to mention one that rings in at just 130 calories a serving.

“This partnership has been so much fun because we each bring a knowledge base from different parts of the beverage industry,” Baird says. “With Watertight Cocktail Co., our first product launch, we’ve fused our past experiences and expertise to create an authentic product that we not only feel is truly delicious, but that we also feel good about drinking.”

“It’s been really exciting to observe the rise of canned cocktails – an industry that will undoubtedly continue to grow — but what we weren’t seeing was a crushable, premium drink featuring real ingredients,” Keisler says. “Now, we can spend time on the water with friends instead of mixing drinks.”

You can see where you can find Watertight Cocktails on the new drinks company’s website.

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