A guide to perfect patio beverages that are ABB: anything but beer

Who needs hops?


Blue Lobster blueberry-lemon vodka soda, Nova Scotia Spirit Co. (6% ABV)
Canned vodka-sodas started trending last summer and they appear to still be going strong. Nova Scotia Spirit Co. just upped the ante this by introducing a blueberry-lemon vodka soda–now on shelves alongside its original lemon-lime fixture. It's made with wild Nova Scotia blueberries, which should probably be our official provincial fruit. The drink's purple colour is reminiscent of a fancy cocktail, but it's flavourful without the threat of a massive sugar-induced headache. The downside is these cans are quite popular and sometimes hard to track down.

Wheelhouse radler, Spindrift Brewing Co. (4% ABV)
Yes, radlers have beer in them. However, most beer enthusiasts will yell at you if you call one "a beer," so Spindrift's take on the brew-juice hybrid is being included in this list. This seasonal offering is an ideal option for something lighter and lower in alcohol than the average beer. Its grapefruit, lemon and tangerine flavours really make it taste like citrusy sunshine.

Pet Nat in a can, Benjamin Bridge (10% ABV)
Want to be the bougie one at the barbecue? Try this. Pétillant Naturel is a sweet, traditional-style wine with a bit of fizz. Benjamin Bridge came out with a small batch of bottles last year, and this summer brings a more convenient, environmentally friendly iteration. Pet Nat is on the pricy side, but it's a fun choice for when you want to treat yourself.

Sour City, Sourwood Cider (6.2% ABV)
Sourwood's got it covered for those who prefer dry, sour ciders over sweet flavours. Since its small beginnings last summer, the company has been growing onward and upward, with its very own north-end location freshly opened at 5576 Cornwallis Street. Sour City is earthy, tasty and (like all of Sourwood's stuff) has no sugar added.

Cranberry vodka soda, Coldstream Clear (7% ABV)
Since 2015, Coldstream has been doling out a variety of spirits. Its first beach-friendly beverage, the lime vodka soda, was first sold in bottles at the Stewiacke location before being canned and sold to the Nova Scotia masses. The cranberry version–still with a touch of lime–is now widely available and making our vodka-cran dreams come true. Unlike its predecessor, this vodka soda isn't totally sugar-free (if you're counting), but it is naturally flavoured and delicious.

Intrepid, Chain Yard Cider (6% ABV)
Intrepid is far from new: As one of Chain Yard's core products, it's been around for as long as the Agricola Street cidery itself. It's true that there are plenty of others to choose from— some with berries, others are infused with gin. However, this traditional cider is exactly what cider should be, and that's what makes it so good. It's dry, but still a little sweet and packed with apples. Always a reliable back deck companion.

Vodka soda grapefruit and lime, Windmill Craft Cocktails (6% ABV)
How many different vodka sodas does one need, you may ask? At least three, I say. Propeller Brewing is known for its beer, but it's been rolling out other stellar beverages through its Windmill Craft Cocktails series. One of its more recent releases is a vodka soda reminiscent of grapefruit Perrier (but, y'know, with vodka), along with a hint of lime.

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