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The pandemic has changed our lives in many ways over the past year, including what (and where) we eat and drink.

Two years ago, ready to drink cocktails were just starting to increase in popularity, but still largely remained a novelty -- a drink to sneak on the train home or a TSA approved size treat to bring on a flight. They weren’t necessarily meant to replace an experience, so much as to create a new kind of experience. But the demand wasn’t quite keeping up with the emerging brands, and to be honest, many of those products were not quite up to our standards.

Fast forward to present day and the landscape of RTD’s has changed drastically. Bars and restaurants are selling their own versions of take away cocktails, out of work bartenders needing to supplement income are starting their own operations -- suddenly cocktails to go are the new normal. And of course, now there is a much greater demand, opening the doors for exciting new cocktails ready to be enjoyed at a moment’s notice. Along the way, the quality of many branded offerings has greatly improved. We’re excited to see the road paved for ready to drink cocktails and hope they’re here to stay. They’re fun! They’re easy! They’re portable! With more options than ever to choose from, check out some of our favorite offerings at Cask.

Salt Point

Salt Point led the pack with solid offerings even before pandemic times. This Northern CA company has been around since 2013. Great carbonation, well balanced acidity, and natural flavors make this one of our go-to canned cocktails. We especially love the Greyhound with its zippy grapefruit notes. While it’s great straight from the can, it especially shines when served over ice. -- $5

Fred Jerbis Bottle Cocktails

Our favorite mad scientist from Friuli, Fred devises recipes for his products from creative combinations of botanicals. Most recently he’s released his series of bottled cocktails and we’ve been especially loving the Negroni (sweet vermouth, bitter, and gin) and the Gin-tini featuring an exclusive dry vermouth that is only available in this release. These full sized bottles are perfect for having a cocktail at the ready any night of the week. Just stir 3 oz with ice, strain into a cocktail glass or serve on the rocks, and garnish with citrus. --$38+

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Golden Rule Margarita

This little pre-made Margarita is a pleasant surprise and great for packing in the cooler on your next camping trip or just keeping stocked in the fridge for when you realize you’ve run out of fresh limes. Well balanced citrus, 100% agave tequila, and triple sec are the only ingredients in this classic Margarita. Keep chilled, shake well and serve over ice. -- $22 4-pack

Small Hand Cocktails

You may recognize this name from your favorite line of cocktail syrups created by Bay Area bar guru Jennifer Colliau. A bartender for over 20 years, Colliau started Small Hand Foods in an effort to incorporate real fruit and other natural ingredients into the bartending world thirteen years ago. She continues to influence the cocktail scene with Small Hand Cocktails, creating delicious ready-to-drink beverages using real fruit and herbs and high-quality spirits. We love these little 200ml bottles, the perfect size to have some variety and not take up too much space. Our current favorite of the line up is the Pineapple Paloma, with tequila, grapefruit juice, and pineapple gum syrup. -- $9 (only at Berkeley location)

Proof Mai Tai

Last but not least, summer is fast approaching, and we could all use a little more Island Time in our lives. An added bonus, you don’t have to buy five or six ingredients to make one cocktail! This ready to enjoy Mai Tai is made with West Indies silver rum, bourbon barrel-aged rum, curaçao and organic orgeat (that hard to pronounce almond syrup), as well as freshly squeezed orange and lime juice, and a hint of grenadine. The serving size is two cocktails per can, so you’ll have plenty to share. Best when served over ice, but even better when you add a paper umbrella. -- $6

Written by Nat Harry 

Nat Harry is the former spirit buyer and used to curate the spirits portfolio at Cask stores, including selecting many of the shop’s single barrels and agave club offerings. A career bartender, Nat fell in love with artisan spirits while running a farm to table bar program at Berkeley’s Revival Bar & Kitchen, and has received accolades including the East Bay Express award for Best Bartender in the East Bay.


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