Mojitos aren’t too terribly hard to throw together — a simple marriage of rum, soda water, sugar, lime, and mint that’s in nearly every bartender’s repertoire. Three of Strong Spirits, a Portland distillery, makes a good one. Notably, though, it comes already concocted, in four-packs of 12-ounce cans. “No mixologist required,” the label says.
Three of Strong is a rum-only operation, so it stands to reason the distillers would figure out how to package a tasty mojito (as well as a dark ‘n’ stormy). Sure, compared to the citric bite of freshly squeezed lime and the herbaceous punch of just-muddled mint leaves in a mojito straight from a capable barkeep’s hands, there’s a certain subduedness to the canned version. Still, lime and mint hit pleasantly enough on the palate, and as any mojito should be, it’s plenty refreshing with the sun beating down on a hot summer day.
Lately, canned cocktails have been on the upswing seemingly everywhere. Heavy hitters, from Molson Coors to Dogfish Head to Jack Daniel’s, are crowding beer aisles with their pre-mixed drinks, and, in addition to Three of Strong, a couple of other Maine outfits have gotten in on the act.
The deepest in-state lineup of canned cocktails comes from Portland’s Maine Craft Distilling. A few of its offerings: vodka with cranberry juice and lime, rum with house-made ginger beer, and wild-blueberry liquor with lemonade and maple syrup. The latter skews pretty sweet (a tarter lemonade would help), but the other two are well-balanced drinks. And Maine Craft hits some interesting notes in other pre-mixed options, with ingredients like seaweed and rhubarb.
The newest Maine entrant into canned cocktails is Mast Landing Brewing Co., which has taprooms in Freeport, South Portland, and Westbrook. It does a lemon-lime vodka soda and a tangerine-elderflower gin soda, both of which clock in around 5 percent alcohol by volume, low even for highball-style drinks. They are, consequently, light and fizzy and agreeable — similar, in effect, to hard seltzers.
All things considered, canned cocktails’ greatest virtue is probably their convenience. They’ll come in handy at, say, a BYOB lobster shack, on a boat, or around a campfire — quite a bit easier to pack a few cans than a bar’s worth of supplies. So it’s certainly not a bad thing that mixologists aren’t required, at least when they’re nowhere nearby.
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