Cocktail Co's airline branded cocktail pouches on display at WTCE Hamburg 2023

Purveyors of premixed cocktails seek to shake things up in-flight


Ready-to-drink cocktails, a mainstay of picnics and barbecues, are arriving on planes, with many different companies vying for travellers’ attention. But how do they stack up?

At the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo in Hamburg, your author tried a sampling of new concoctions at the show to see which ones fizz with promise, and which ones fall flat.

Before we dive in, let me first stress that judging cocktails on taste and packaging is purely subjective. And yes, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!

First up, premixed cocktails from Lockdown Liquor & Co, a cleverly-named British outfit launched during the Covid pandemic by Natasha and Jack Durling. Lockdown Liquor & Co offers a variety of classics in a can, including margaritas and negronis, but differentiates itself by focusing on high-end ingredients.

I tried a sampling of different beverages, with the espresso martini being especially compelling. This was helped by the conscious decision to underfill the can, allowing it to be shaken to create the type of frappe foam you would see with a bar-made cocktail.

The design of the packaging is terrific, matching matte colours with bold logos to provide an alluring product.

Various cans and small bottles of premixed cocktails are displayed on a table at WTCE Hamburg 2023. A sign that says "Lockdown Liquor Co" is sitting in front of the beverages.

Lockdown Liquor & Co also offers glass bottled drinks, though these would have a weight penalty. Image: Fintan Horan-Stear

Next we have Curatif, an award-winning Australian cocktail purveyor that is especially proud of its ‘Tommy’s Margarita’. “It doesn’t remind you of a margarita; it is a margarita,” stressed managing director Matt Sanger.

A taste test of the drink, served chilled, proved his point. The margarita has a unique spicy aftertaste and a deep tequila flavour, giving the sensation that it’s heavier on the alcohol than it actually is.

A pink can labeled Tommy's Margarita is open and a glass of the yellow drink is sitting next to it.

The design of Curatif was quite busy, but this matched the bold and complex flavour of the margarita. Image: Fintan Horan-Stear

The design of the can gives a tropical party vibe. Would it stand up to being served warm on a low-cost carrier? “It’s a premium product,” replied Sanger.


The Perfect Cocktail Co, meanwhile, provides a range of cocktails (and indeed mocktails) with a focus on bar classics like the negroni. I sampled a couple of varieties, and the negroni was truly delicious.

Brand marketing manager Rebecca Merenda explained that the company uses its own sourced ingredients from Italy (excluding geographically specific drinks like bourbon) to make them unique, and this pays off in taste.

What lets this brand down, unfortunately, is the same thing that sets it apart: the packaging. Using a pouch reduces both weight and space in the cabin. But while it’s a fun design and uses clear bold text, I wonder if the tear-off corner leads to spillages if you’re not careful. Consider how mini milk sticks can create a surprising splash on board.

Nevertheless, I could imagine that these lightweight, low fuss drinks would be popular on short-haul routes.

Cocktail Co's airline branded cocktail pouches on display at WTCE Hamburg 2023

Perfect Cocktail Co’s branded pouches would be attractive for carriers with strong identities. Image: Fintan Horan-Stear

Finally, a wild card. O’Donnell Moonshine is not necessarily a cocktail at all, but a base for other drinks.

Formed by a group of Berliners who were inspired on a US road trip, O’Donnell Moonshine offers a range of liqueur and craft spirits that can serve as the base for a variety of drinks. For example, its cherry liqueur, which features a bold, wild, and sour flavour, would work well with sparkling wine.

I tried the wild berry flavour with sparkling water, and it was very refreshing, reminding me of a hard seltzer.

The design of the product is very hipster, with the Moonshine smuggled aboard in small glass mason jars. Whilst it’s a curious offering, the additional DIY element may limit its appeal on board flights. 

A display of O'Donnell Moonshine drinks at WTCE Hamburg 2023. The drinks are in mason jars with spouts on the lids for pouring.

O’Donnell’s design felt like stepping back to 2000s Brooklyn, but that’s not a bad thing for this (rapidly approaching 30-year-old) reporter. Image: Fintan Horan-Stear

On balance, all of these companies’ products hold some attraction, but for different markets. One could easily see Lockdown Liquor Co’s premixed cocktails being stocked in, say, British Airways’ premium economy cabin, and Curatif is already served on board Qantas business class.

The weight savings and easy distribution of The Perfect Cocktail Co. makes it a shoo-in for a variety of carriers, whilst O’Donnell may be better suited to a refined pre-departure beverage in the lounge, or perhaps business-plus on board.

In any case, the perennial ‘gin in a tin’ has some stiff competition. 

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Featured image credited to Fintan Horan-Stear