Jump to content
ADI Forums
Foreshot

Canned Cocktails?

Recommended Posts

Something to keep in mind. Cocktails are a moment in time. Acidity, dilution, and oxidation all come together to form the evolving flavor of a cocktail. Packaging a stable form of that is much more difficult than many people would think. Sodas are canned with artificial ingredients because they're cheap but they're also stable in the presence of carbonic and citric acid. For instance: an old fashioned isn't just a whiskey bitters soda, ya know what I mean?

  • reaction_title_1 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SlickFloss makes some good points. Having just got out of the brewing industry, going back to endless packaging days, and measuring dissolved oxygen levels isn't so appealing. Cleaning the residual flavors of cola, ginger beer, or other sweet syrupy mixers out of your packaging lines is going to be terrible as well.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, SlickFloss said:

Something to keep in mind. Cocktails are a moment in time. Acidity, dilution, and oxidation all come together to form the evolving flavor of a cocktail. Packaging a stable form of that is much more difficult than many people would think. Sodas are canned with artificial ingredients because they're cheap but they're also stable in the presence of carbonic and citric acid. For instance: an old fashioned isn't just a whiskey bitters soda, ya know what I mean?

Fernet on the rocks is a cocktail, vodka soda is a cocktail, martini is a cocktail, G&T - I see no reason why these wouldn't be shelf stable.  Hell, one could reasonable argue that a beer is a cocktail (for the purposes of this arguement) given that it's a mix of sweetners (dextrins), alcohol, and hops and whatever flavorings are added (like blood orange)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, nabtastic said:

Fernet on the rocks is a cocktail, vodka soda is a cocktail, martini is a cocktail, G&T - I see no reason why these wouldn't be shelf stable.  Hell, one could reasonable argue that a beer is a cocktail (for the purposes of this arguement) given that it's a mix of sweetners (dextrins), alcohol, and hops and whatever flavorings are added (like blood orange)

(I hope this doesn't come off as snarky because I'm not trying to be)

1 Fernet on the rocks isn't a cocktail

2 You cannot can anything on the rocks the ice will melt (so maybe you need to look into how things are canned?)

3 the soda options you listed are possible in some respects, but they'll be bland, people will still need garnishes, and you won't be able to incorporate natural flavorings as easily as you think. You can't just add juice to shit and hope it works in a can for a few months.

4 Canning process requires high temps and pressure for extended periods of time for sanitation. This will cook off, degrade, etc most flavor compounds like juice, natural oils, etc.

5 You would want to engineer in dilution rates etc for your serving, which means selling a concentrated amount at a premium price point (added package, effort, energy engineering etc) or purchasing special sized cans (more money) and doing even more work to make it fit in that package.

 

I've spent 9 years making dreams realities for people at a 1.9 million cs/year custom bottling plant (we have 7 bottling lines). customers bring us their vision and we deliver them goods in package. The number one thing people do is come in with a cocktail saying they want it canned/packaged spouting off the same shit you're saying now-but people forget that we don't live in a world of technicalities limited to their own scope of experience and vision. You "seeing no reason why it wouldn't be stable" when you have no experience trying to do this for a consumer, or for yourself, doesn't mean theres not a reason it won't work. When you say G and T, vodka soda, etc these are simple mixed drinks that could be packaged with alcohol in them for sure. But when someone says can a cocktail, that implies a true cocktail, so a combination of ingredients (usually a base spirit, other spirit/liquid, an acid, and an aromatic garnish/bitter element). An old fashioned is the best example of a cocktail. I am able to can/bottle you liquid that resembles in taste and flavor an old fashioned, but it will not be as simple as putting 2 packets of sugar, some water, 2 ozs rye and 2 dashes angostura in a can. And an even bigger problem is it won't be your exact perfect cocktail. Taste will skew to the limits of manufacturing. [I contract manufacture 2 premade old fashioneds that are super successful in marketplace and ti took us forever to get it dialed in just right].

Try this. Mix 80 proof ethanol and lemon juice in a bottle and let it sit closed for two weeks. Is it the same? No. The acid will degrade and become purely bitter instead of pleasantly tart.

Try mixing your perfect manhattan and put it in a mason jar with no air space for five days. Is it the same? No. The bitters leach into the rest of the immiscible fluid and there is no contrast. And depending on your vermouth (we make our own in house) that likely will change as well.

 

  • reaction_title_1 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not snarky just missing the point.  I doubt anyone here is expecting to package a pre-mixed cocktail with the exact same ingredients or ratios - nor should they expect the exact same flavor profile. 

I wasn’t saying that canning alcohol+flavor is exactly the same as pouring a drink in your basement.  I’m just saying it can be done.  There wasn’t a market for small, mobile canning lines before the small batch beer companies but that doesn’t mean they weren’t able to work it out.  

Not everything in a can needs to be drank over ice, although it seems relevant to point out that cocktails mixed at point of sell also should be built to incorporate dilution from ice. 

condescension is neither welcome or helpful. Try to keep some  aloha in future post brother.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, SlickFloss said:

The number one thing people do is come in with a cocktail saying they want it canned/packaged spouting off the same shit you're saying now

 

 

5 hours ago, nabtastic said:

I doubt anyone here is expecting to package a pre-mixed cocktail with the exact same ingredients or ratios - nor should they expect the exact same flavor profile. 

condescension is neither welcome or helpful. Try to keep some  aloha in future post brother.  

 

put some sunblock on that thin skin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, nabtastic said:

Not snarky just missing the point.  I doubt anyone here is expecting to package a pre-mixed cocktail with the exact same ingredients or ratios - nor should they expect the exact same flavor profile. 

I wasn’t saying that canning alcohol+flavor is exactly the same as pouring a drink in your basement.  I’m just saying it can be done.  There wasn’t a market for small, mobile canning lines before the small batch beer companies but that doesn’t mean they weren’t able to work it out.  

Not everything in a can needs to be drank over ice, although it seems relevant to point out that cocktails mixed at point of sell also should be built to incorporate dilution from ice. 

condescension is neither welcome or helpful. Try to keep some  aloha in future post brother.  

Condescension was unintentional and I apologize for that. I want it on record I do not believe I know everything about canning, packaging, fermentation, distilling etc. Just have unique experience doing exactly what you're saying in this instance. Ill do my best to get rid of the snarky and put a little more aloha in my flow bra.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...meanwhile back at the topic..

So we've established that it is legal from the TTB but we probably shouldn't use screw tops.

It'll take work to get the right blend for 1) shelf stability and 2) a non-dilute mix after pouring over ice 

Canned can be either carbonated or not but a flat drink would probably be easier (ADI's hard lemonade?) 

The formula will almost certainly fall under DSS.  

-

Any reason we can't hot-fill for acidic cocktails?  

The bottling tank will be pre-blended and I would assume the mix is below any risk of explosion so there wouldn't be a need for XP canners right? 

Since this is going into a can [been to several bars with pre-mixed kegs of highballs, but that would need TTB approval for packaging] we won't be as worried about the visuals, so 10 micron filters? 

Anybody know of any kickback from control states?

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our facility is the only DSP on the West Coast with a slim-line canning line specifically for RTD's.  If anyone is looking for co-packaging their products we have the capacity and compliance to do so.  

Eastside Distilling, PDX

DBA, Motherlode Beverage Co.  

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

spiritedPDX - You guys do the cutwater spirits vodka sodas? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe cutwater cans in house. Not sure of their process 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/15/2018 at 1:38 PM, nabtastic said:

...meanwhile back at the topic..

So we've established that it is legal from the TTB but we probably shouldn't use screw tops.

It'll take work to get the right blend for 1) shelf stability and 2) a non-dilute mix after pouring over ice 

Canned can be either carbonated or not but a flat drink would probably be easier (ADI's hard lemonade?) 

The formula will almost certainly fall under DSS.  

-

Any reason we can't hot-fill for acidic cocktails?  

The bottling tank will be pre-blended and I would assume the mix is below any risk of explosion so there wouldn't be a need for XP canners right? 

Since this is going into a can [been to several bars with pre-mixed kegs of highballs, but that would need TTB approval for packaging] we won't be as worried about the visuals, so 10 micron filters? 

Anybody know of any kickback from control states?

Cheers

Kegged craft cocktails originated on my blog about ten years ago. Crappy margaritas on the gun existed, but no one had done anything with quality ingredients. I continuously learned more and updated a lot of the ideas. One of the big ones is reflux de-aeration to remove oxygen and the idea that you can un-couple enzymatic bittering of citrus from citrus oxidation. I ended up with formulations bottled in champagne magnums for more than 12 months. Reflux de-aeration is a really old imprecise term, but it basically uses the rule of partial pressures to show that dissolves co2 in a liquid can force oxygen out of solution.

You can prototype formulate products with pre-bittered citrus (non-oxidized) to predict how they will evolve, but the hole thing is really just a tease. When you get to large scale products sold at wholesale margins, the ideas just aren't that viable. You cannot purchase bulk citrus juice properly processed to my knowledge.

For prototyping and work for my restaurant's inhouse sales I developed a Champagne bottle manifold, a manifold style keg to champagne bottle version and then two different very affordable full enclosure systems. One is for small bottles and one is for larger sizes. They use quick disconnects and can be operated in an array of multiple units. The counter pressure designs allow the hitting dissolved gas levels well past 7g/l which is coca cola to 9g/l which is prosecco and beyond where true Champagne is sometimes 12g/l of dissolved gas. 

These last two products were designed for far flung resorts that needed tools to bottle carbonated products in whatever bottles they could get their hands on because they could not purchase idealized new bottles. I've shipped the tools around the world, from pro formulators to eco hotels and from Michelin starred wine programs to the top bar programs internationally.

Adding to the ideas was the concept that you can measure dissolved gas with a kitchen scale so you can rapidly create progressive series for tasting panels. This makes carbonation more independent of the pressure/temp methodology and easier to make comparisons. You can work in reverse with the concept and start analyzing competitors and role models for patterns that may dictate what equipment you need. Weigh things, then de-gas, then measure liquid volume.

Another formulation idea to consider is the notion of delle units for stability. Many products will want to be at the minimum of alcohol content for stability. Professor delle's concept states that units of sugar can trade for units of alcohol in contributing to stability and best bets exist. This goes further and dissolved CO2 can also participate. This is used in some really smart products on the market, but formal best bets are not known.

For distillers, I recommend people start producing products for their tasting room which becomes a great focus group. A lot can be viable for those retail prices and you can learn a ton of skill sets to scale up. Weddings and general catering can be a not insignificant market. You may be working with distillates, but consider your shelf life to be that of fragile beer with a drink by date. Many formulation ideas are for bomb shelter products. A lot can be learned there, but it is not craft. Dream to make something you're truly proud of. The market is flooded with junk. People are getting paid, but I cannot imagine anyone is truly proud of some of the new carbonated canned cocktail products. Too many compromises get made when fruit juice is forced into the bomb shelter. My personal bunker has nothing but whiskey and rum.

  • reaction_title_1 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/26/2018 at 11:18 PM, captnKB said:

I believe cutwater cans in house. Not sure of their process 

Pretty sure cutwater is owned by ballast point who was bough by constellation brands. So pretty sure they are self sufficient.  

  • reaction_title_1 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Boston - That was pretty heavy. Thank you.  I may have misread this so please correct me if I'm wrong.   It sounded like you were saying that "craft" and "bomb shelter" (which I presume means long/indefinite shelf life) are not very compatible.  To retain proper flavor, a "craft canned cocktail" would have a shorter shelf life, say 3-6 months?   We've got kegged highballs out here (thanks Suntory) which seems like a good place to start - or at least a lot more simple than a canned mai tai! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, nabtastic said:

Boston - That was pretty heavy. Thank you.  I may have misread this so please correct me if I'm wrong.   It sounded like you were saying that "craft" and "bomb shelter" (which I presume means long/indefinite shelf life) are not very compatible.  To retain proper flavor, a "craft canned cocktail" would have a shorter shelf life, say 3-6 months?   We've got kegged highballs out here (thanks Suntory) which seems like a good place to start - or at least a lot more simple than a canned mai tai! 

Bomb shelter implies a set of techniques and rules of thumb if you try to learn from classically trained formulators and their textbooks. A lot of doors open when you consider a different shelf life and supply chain. I would consider drinks I've made craft because they overcame the citrus barrier, harnessing a novel de-aeration technique, and consciously incorporated enzymatic bittering as a feature. They also had a pretty amazing shelf life and I was able to age them for over a year. My craft techniques could scale up, but would not be economically viable at wholesale.

My drinks were also craft for other reasons. Its probably safer to say that my drinks were fine, and I was getting high fives from the Michelin folk. I had champagne bottles you could saber! I had dissolved gas levels so high they were truly flute worthy and beyond any non-wine product on the market. I often used enchanted spirits like Fortaleza tequila and I had heirloom cultivars of raspberries that hadn't been grown in the U.S. in 90 years (and my product was economically viable).

What I guess I would encourage is for producers to maximize what they can do on the small scale at the retail and tasting room level. Startlingly beautiful things are viable and you will enhance the rest of your brand when you transcend craft, hit fine and start running with the Michelin crowd.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×