Rate my tinny!

It's 2019's first heatwave and that means tinnies in the park. But why settle for lager when you can have cocktails? Ellen Sharman reviews what's on offer.

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Illustration by Ellen Sharman

Someone once said Oscar Wilde would regularly exclaim in his time as an Oxford student that “no sunny day is complete without engaging in the great British pastime known as ‘tinnys in the park’”.

Knocking back one of these canned beverages in the sun is as British as the Spice Girls, royal scandals, and Tory drug-taking. When done right, a can consumed joyously among friends can prove as entertaining as just about any other British summer activity.

You may have already sipped your inaugural canned lager of the summer, but why not try something a little more adventurous for your next tin-based excursion?

“What about my red stripes at Notting hill?!” I hear middle-class millennials clamour in fear. Do not fret! I am not suggesting we relinquish our steadily warming 2% beers for good, but only that we treat ourselves to something a little more decadent on the next scorcher.

Pre-mixed cocktails in tins offer the punter a flavourful and cost-effective way to drink themselves towards merriness, oblivion, or perhaps, like me, third-degree burns. Practicality wise, if you are looking to get tipsy quick, the tinned cocktail offers a sensible and bladder friendly alternative to smashing six cans in under 30 mins.

One issue of drinking tinned beverages in the sun is their temperature, but much like Sean Paul, these cocktails have it right. As revitalising as a cold beer in hand on a hot day can be, by the time you arrive at the sixth, you are well into the danger zone of sun-boiled larger. A six pack in the sun swiftly becomes undrinkable, the remnants banished to the fridge for another day. With pre-mixed tins, the pairing of a higher alcohol percentage with the drinkability of squash sees these nifty little cans get you drunk at a deceptive rate whilst preventing your beverage brewing from a margarita into a Molotov cocktail.

These pre-mixed cocktails have been on supermarket shelves for a number of years, but their growing popularity has seen an increasing number of high street supermarkets attempt to cash in with their own-brand versions of classic cocktails and well-loved mixed drinks.

In October of last year, M&S food halls across the UK presented eager punters with their own selection of cans, best experienced on the London overground (serving suggestion). Sainsbury’s also have really pushed the trend, even promoting a brand of ‘nitrogen infused’ drinks to try and create a bar standard experience in a can.

Yes, a cannabis lassi may sound more exotic than a cocktail stored in aluminium, but who wants to be like Jeremy Hunt? Be more Dianne Abbott and go forth into the world tinned cocktail in hand!

Pimm’s

Though not strictly a cocktail, Pimm’s sell their own pre-mixed cans to save you lugging a weighty jug of fruit and cucumber (is cucumber really a fruit though?) to your public green space of choice. Without prior experience of a fresh glass of homemade Pimm’s, one might be satisfied with this purchase. To the more experienced Pimm’s consumers, this substitution very much lacks the flair and flavour of a cup overflowing with fruit and fresh mint. I personally was disappointed with this drink, feeling cheated of the best thing about the summer classic; alcohol steeped strawberries.

Price: £1.80

Volume: 5.4%

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Sainsbury’s

The offerings from this supermarket’s own brand range are decidedly less sophisticated than its competitors. The choices of spirits are limited to Vodka, Gin, and Rum, and the mixers get no more exciting than rose lemonade. These cans are essentially glorified college bar pre-drinks in cans – cheap and cheerful, but not very sophisticated. If you are just looking to get day drunk ASAP (which is fair enough), then the star rating would probably go up considerably given the cost and percentage.

Price: £1 – £1.25 (the 25p extra goes towards adding a hint of rose or rhubarb to your basic gin)

Volume: 5%

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Tesco

Tesco’s themselves are yet to launch an own brand pre-mixed range, but if you are still desperate to rack up your club card points at all costs, they do sell a range of other brands’ concoctions on their shelves. I personally found this to be a cost-effective way of sampling numerous brands and flavours. Unlike any other supermarket, the current 3 for 4 deal means you can pick and mix between popular brands like Absolute, Gordons, and Sipsmith, or try more varied and innovative cocktail flavours by ‘All Shook Up’ including espresso martini’s or violet flavoured cosmos. Though I like the ability to choose from a very wide range of flavours and brands, I withhold my fifth star as I would have expected a giant chain like this to have created their own branded versions by now.

Price: 3 for 4 on all tins (cheapest free)

Volume: Varies per brand from 4.5% to 7.2%

Rating: ★★★★☆

M&S

As well as giving you the opportunity to live your middle-class Labour fantasy on the tube home, M&S offer a genuinely enticing range of drinks. The flavours are refined and classic (much like the brand’s reputation) and allow you to transport your favourites from the plush seats of a cocktail lounge to the verdant planes of port meadow. I gave M&S’ range a full 5 stars for the experience of shopping in the store is as soothing as the drinks are delicious. They have managed to create an own-brand range which is both varied in flavour and cost effective, given that the average alcohol volume per can is 8%.

Price: £2 each or 4 for £6

Volume: 8%

Rating: ★★★★★

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