Cocktail Squad is a series of ready-to-drink canned cocktails created by a Boulder, Colorado-based couple, Lauren and John Maggio. Now numbering six different products, these are all made with real spirits — no malt liquor here. Cans are 355ml and designed for single-serving use. Thoughts on the full lineup follow.
Each product is canned at 10% abv.
Cocktail Squad Gin & Tonic – As basic as it gets: gin, quinine, and carbonated water. No lime here, and it really needs it. This an earthy gin and a bitter tonic, and it could use some citrus beyond the hint of lemon peel that’s in the gin to brighten things up. Fair enough as a base to doctor from, though. B
Cocktail Squad Vodka Soda – Another basic one — vodka and carbonated water, though natural lemon flavor is in the mix, too. Hard to believe but it’s a huge miss, the lemon flavor giving this a distinct Country Time Lemonade character — tart and funky. The finish is off, with a distinctly artificial note. Not entirely palatable. D+
Cocktail Squad Whiskey Sour – Bourbon, pressed lemon and orange juice (not lemon flavor), and gomme syrup. Canned with a nitro widget. The nitro never really gives this cocktail the expected creaminess, but otherwise the cocktail works quite well. The citrus is fresh and authentic, and the whiskey (“handmade,” per the label) offers a modest, vanilla-dusted kick. Light smoke notes balance out the citrus, which finds a curious pear note on the back end. Very light and summery. B+
Cocktail Squad Margarita – Straightforward, should be, anyway, but tequila, neutral spirits, agave, and a pinch of salt are not exactly a margarita. This light-bodied cocktail comes off as quite thin at first, with a strong element of lime that simply isn’t reflected in its recipe. The salt is a strange addition here, and as a margarita drinker who never chooses a salted rim, it’s a little off-putting at times. B-
Cocktail Squad Greyhound – Vodka with natural grapefruit flavor, carbonated water, and a pinch of salt. Sorry, but the addition of salt makes this a salty dog, not a greyhound. Anyway, it’s quite fizzy, with a bold grapefruit punch that feels only slightly artificial and is actually reasonably refreshing. It doesn’t really measure up to the tang of the real thing, but it works well enough in a pinch (though the finish is a bit funky). Far less salty than I was expecting. B
Cocktail Squad Bourbon Smash – By far the most elaborate cocktail in this lineup, a mix of bourbon, Rocky Mountain blackberries, spearmint, and pressed lemons. (Where’s that natural lemon flavor, y’all?) This is surprisingly less fruity than expected, the mint and a young whiskey element dominating any sense of berry influence. That said, the combination is refreshing — if over-carbonated — with that fruit element finally hitting harder on the finish. B
each $6 per four-pack of 355ml cans