With the warm weather finally here after what felt like the *longest winter ever, it seemed like a very good time to talk about the summer sippers. Those summer friendly, hot weather, patio, or deck, all-stars that help us relax, unwind, or even socialize with good company. Several of our picks for this summer are in mix or sample packs, but most are also available in a single flavour if you find that new favourite.
We’ve picked a few beers as well, and in some cases, we’ve focused on beers that are alcohol or gluten free to keep things fresh, or help out those who are abstaining or those who have to avoid a few things.
*Subject to actual fact checking
Wild Life Distillery Summer Seasonal Cocktails, Alberta
Clever! These new cocktails from Canmore’s Wild Life Distillery taste just as you hope from the name on the can. Being a fan of both gin and margaritas I couldn’t wait to try Thirsty Cougar Gin Margarita, and it delivers – just gin, lime, orange, and agave is evidently all you need. Problem Bear Rhubarb Spritz is also a gin base, blended with carbonated water, rhubarb, and strawberry – two eminently crushable cocktails!
CSPC 869689 and CSPC 869692, $14 (4-pack cans)
El Cocktails el margarita, Canada
Entirely approached as a cocktail first drink rather than, “what can we do with our vodka/or other spirit?”, come the El Cocktails. The margarita is probably better than the ones you can make at home with premium tequila, triple sec, lime and a little sugar – this is no naked or nude style cocktail - and is a great balance of zesty lime and big tequila. Great ice cold or served over ice too.
CSPC 880905 $14-16 (4-pack cans)
Hecho Tequila Soda, Mexico
Sometimes, tequila is the only thing that really hits the spot. A nice blend of tequila and soda with a splash of lime, the tequila packs a bit of a punch, and if serving in a glass, you might want an extra slice of lime as a garnish, but in the can, it’s got good balance with being quite dry, and tequila-forward too.
CSPC 826614 About $14-16 (4-pack cans)
Confluence Distilling and Highline Brewing Club Maté+, Alberta
A collaboration between one of Calgary's first breweries and first distilleries, this gluten-free energising vodka cocktail is popular with dance clubbers, and made with yerba mate – a herbal South American tea, along with lemon and cherry extract. It’s on the sweeter side, but not too sweet, and a clever combination of earthy flavours from the tea, and citrus with cherries.
CSPC 880905 $16 (4-pack cans)
El Cocktails el paloma, Canada
A paloma can be a bit of a heated argument around my house, as it really boils down to if one likes grapefruit in their cocktail. Made the right way – about 7 percent alcohol with plenty of palate searing grapefruit, blanco tequila, sugar and lime. It’s a doozy (there is a lot of grapefruit) but a nice little kicking back drink for the summer.
CSPC 880908 $14-16 (4-pack cans)
Pivot Spirits Hard Kombucha, Alberta
Collabs seem to be the trend these days, and we fully support it! Medicine Hat’s Your Preference Kombucha has teamed up with Rolling Hills’ Pivot Spirits to create bright and tangy, hard kombuchas in two flavours: Blood Orange Peach Vodka and Blueberry Haskap Vodka. The fruitiness plays with the tartness of the kombucha to give a refreshing drink that’s sweet and sour – and perfect for summer.
CSPC 883911 and 883912 $24-25 (4-pack cans)
Burwood Craft Cocktail Mix Pack, Alberta
Burwood distillery has carved out a fine reputation around these parts for some well-made and finely crafted spirits, and they are making some waves with their newer RTD and cocktail-style beverages too. We tried the mix pack and found that there was a little something for everyone; the Pineapple Lemon Gin Soda (our favourite), the Grape Lemon and Raspberry Basil in the seltzer style, and a sunshine friendly Mango Lime.
CSPC 869173 $30-32
Founder's Original Ultimate Party Box, Canada
We’ve had some serious praise for the Founder’s Originals (including at the Alberta Beverage Awards), so we are happy to share that the whole gang is here and ready to go. Newest is a fun and tasty play on a mule with bright, juicy, crushed pineapple style fruits and sweet flavours, but that spicy, ginger-laden kick creeps up on you and before you know it, one is like, “damn, that’s a little spicy!”
CSPC 874808 About $25-30
Category 12 Breakthru, Canada
It’s always tricky to try gluten-free beer since, by definition, they are missing something that makes beer…well…beer. We tried both the IPA and the pilsner and were suitably impressed. A little darker and nuttier than expected but still tasty, it has the flavour and texture beer drinkers want. A special enzyme in production targets gluten protein sites that can react with celiac disease sufferers, making a liquid with less than 10 ppm.
CSPC 886084 (IPA), and CSPC 886083 (Pilsner) both 4-packs, around $16-18
Vacay Brewing Crouching Tiger Asian Rice Lager, Alberta
The Vacay Brewing Company seems to have summer vacations on their mind with a number of juicy, fruity, and summer smashable brews and drinks in the lineup. A standout favourite from the line was the Crouching Tiger with good balance of lighter, rice notes and a clean, smooth drinking approach – and finish. Bring on summer!
Brewery (for now), $16-18
Village CR*FT Pale Ale, Alberta
Our friends at Village keep bringing out the hits with their non-alcoholic Pale Ale, which is catching some post-activity time around here. Fairly light in body with a mild hoppy character and some tea leaf and a clean, mildly bitter finish, this is a nice way to relax in the sun without the alcohol.
CSPC 852407 $12-13 (4-pack cans)
Partake Hefeweizen, Canada
Partake is making some of the best non-alcoholic beers in Canada and we were very pleased to see the hefeweizen landing in Alberta. Slightly cloudy in the glass with plenty of wheat-y goodness and a bit of texture too. Very light, and lacking in a bit of body, but cold on a nice day… it would be very welcome indeed.
$30 (12-pack cans)
Wild Rose Sunday Fuzz Peach Hefeweizen, Alberta
Wow, there’s no mistaking the flavour of this beer! Just the aromas of this German wheat beer will give it away - it’s peachy through and through. But that’s no surprise as Wild Rose have added peach and apricot puree to their hefeweizen. And bonus, it’s their signature beer for a cause with proceeds going to Chimo Animal Assisted Wellness and Learning Society (CAAWLS) in support of mental health.
$14 (4-pack cans)