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How canned cocktails dominated the bar scene

Not so long ago in the heady world of alcohol imbibing, it was only beer that was sold in cans. Then, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and city-wide bar closures have forced us to rethink our lacklustre home drinks trolley and sub-par mixology skills. Entrepreneurial proprietors pivoted their business models and almost overnight started delivering our favourite cocktails, boxed, bottled or canned. 

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Seeing the demand of ready-to-drinks, wine- and spirit-makers put their vintage in aluminium, and now, courtesy of the Gen Z obsession with hip trends, the canned and bottled revolution has reached a whole new level – one that might change the way we consume alcohol forever.

Some of the entrants to this new class of ready-to-drinks are just as good as what you can get at your favourite Lan Kwai Fong watering hole, but in a convenient, sustainable package. That said, not all hard seltzers are created equal (sorry White Claw!). Previously, pre-mixed cocktails were restricted to the supermarket or M&S’s upmarket but grimly over-sweetened offerings, and canned wines were often a shadow of their bottled selves. Today, the drink-in-a-tin industry is on a roll. Alongside the quality imported hard drinks are home-grown versions and blended concoctions from acclaimed mixologists and top bars in Hong Kong.

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Arvy Benitez, mixologist at Ozone, the highest and one of the sleekest bars in the world, believes that it’s not just a pandemic-driven fad. Bottled cocktails with their increased shelf-life are here to stay. “It’s safe to say that Covid has been instrumental in the success of pre-mixed drinks… In isolation, it’s better to bottle cocktails than emotions!” he notes. “The trend speaks to a different consumer base – the younger, fresher, more experimental drinkers looking to discover sommelier-approved premium cocktails anytime, anywhere. Once Covid is behind us and we are once again back in the [outdoor] concert and events season, we see the trend gaining even more popularity.” 


Also Read: Gin Genies: The rise and rise of Hong Kong craft gins


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The thing to remember about pre-packaged cocktails – although you probably don’t need a reminder – is that drinking straight out of the can or bottle is the best way to preserve the bold flavours, temperature and carbonation. Sipping with lips to tin also offsets that pesky sweetness. Which is perfect for a picnic or whenever you’re feeling golden, but may not match a fancy night-in or carefully planned soirée.

Only Vodka Soda

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Since health-conscious hard seltzers have an abysmally small market share here, the category is ripe for expansion. Jonathan Der and Flora Ma, co-founders of Only Beverages, are filling that gap with Hong Kong’s first zero-carb, zero-sugar alcoholic drink.
Their refreshing soda, available in the citrusy flavours of Tahitian lime and yuzu ginger, offers a balanced profile of sourness with a hint of sweetness and a delectable, tangy after-taste of vodka. It comes in snazzy, summery Instagrammable packaging, too. Weighing in at 4.5-percent ABV and just 80 calories, Only Vodka Soda is naturally effervescent proof that booze is better in a can!

Suave Espresso Martini

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A rich, indulgent blend of Kalhúa, coffee and vodka, Espresso Martini was invented by the late, famed London bartender Dick Bradsell in 1983 to meet a peculiar request from a top model. At Ozone, mixologist Arvy Benitez puts his innovative spin on this modern-day classic using “rum instead of vodka for the hint of tonka-bean flavour”. Suave Espresso Martini is one of a trio of bottled cocktails packaged by the Ritz-Carlton, which would never lend its name to anything less-than-premium.
“It’s our bestseller at Sunday brunch,” enthuses Benitez. “For the bottled version, we’ve made a few tweaks for a longer shelf-life; expect the same depth of flavour and delicious profile whether you’re grooving at Ozone or relaxing in your sweats at home.” Mixed on high, the bottled concoctions are made in-house with the freshest natural ingredients.


(Text: Nikita Mishra Photos: Only Vodka Soda, Ozone Hong Kong)


Also Read: Sinlessly Delicious: These zero-alcohol cocktails are not to be mocked



2022-05-15T12:41:32+00:00 May 14, 2022|Wine|