Food & Drink

4 Canned Margaritas That Actually Taste Good

Courtesy of Cutwater Spirits

The Margarita is an elusive beast. The cocktail is refreshing when made à la minute with fresh lime juice, but beverage makers have yet to replicate that crisp citrus flavor in a prepackaged drink, something that would finally match the laid-back attitude of the easy summer sipper. Science just can’t seem to replicate real lime flavor, and many packaged Margaritas of old just taste like fake citrus. But with the recent surge in canned cocktails, we had hoped refreshing, quaffable canned Margaritas would finally become a reality.

And they did—to an extent. Our favorite new canned Margs are delicious, sweet without too much faux lime, and totally crushable. They just don’t really taste like Margaritas, per se. Still, they make wonderful grab and go beverages, and an utter relief when squeezing a ton of limes just seems like too much work. Here are the ones to try.

Cutwater Lime Margarita ($3.50-4 for a 12-oz can)

If you judge all canned cocktails on smell alone, Cutwater Lime Margarita is the clearest expression of a real Margarita, as it’s the only one that actually smells like tequila. That tequila comes through when you sip it as well, with luscious and grassy notes coming through beneath the sweet lime flavor. Several tasters identified a clear taste of pea shoots—we chalk it up to an especially vegetal tequila—along with a salty bite, all of which is way better than it sounds. With a finish that lasts eons, the Cutwater Marg is worth your full attention.

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Buzzbox ($4 for a 6.8-oz box)

Not quite a “canned” Marg, the Buzzbox cocktail of tequila, citrus and triple sec comes in a shiny silver juice box, complete with little plastic extend-o straw. And it tastes pretty much like a Margarita-flavored Capri Sun. The cut of citrus is pretty mellow, but the flavor of limes and oranges is there, along with a sweet orange flavor from the triple sec. All of this would make a fairly acceptable canned cocktail, but out of a juice box, it seems so much better. Plus it clocks in at 12-percent ABV, which is a heck of a lot of bang for something that looks like it should be enjoyed at soccer practice.

Jose Cuervo Sparkling Margarita ($3 for a 6.8-oz can)

Note to all canned cocktail makers: If you want to instantly improve the drinking experience, add bubbles. Cracking a can makes us instantly expect a fizzy beverage, and the sparkling Marg from Jose Cuervo delivers on that promise. The carbonation cuts some of the sweetness and heightens some of the citrus notes, creating a drink that’s light, a touch smoky on the palate, and about the closest to real lime flavor we tasted. We could easily down a six-pack of these over a long beach day.

Jose Cuervo Strawberry Lime Margarita ($4 for 6.8-oz can)

One look at Jose Cuervo’s fruity Marg will convince you it will rot your teeth. Between the neon red color and the mini Cuervo-shaped plastic bottle (it also comes in a can, but we’ve found it more often in the mini bottle), the packaging is doing no favors for this prepackaged booze—all of which makes the shockingly refreshing flavor all the better. The fruity ready to drink cocktail is definitely sweet, like a Jolly Rancher, but it avoids becoming too cloying or thick, backing up the strawberry flavoring with triple sec and a touch of lime. If you’ve ever been tempted by Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix, you may as well just buy one of these little guys instead and save yourself the hassle of mixing.