Maui Brewing Co. Releases Three Hawai‘i-Crafted Canned Cocktails Just in Time For Summer
The local brewery has started making its own whiskey and gin. And you can only get them in these mixed drinks.
Photos: Bryan Berkowitz / Kupu Spirits
Maui Brewing Co. just debuted three flavors of Hawai‘i-made canned cocktails: whiskey ginger, gin and tonic and whiskey cola—for sale first at Maui Brewing restaurants on Maui and O‘ahu.
The line is branded as Kupu Spirits, the first locally made ready-to-drink cocktail in a can. We got to taste some samples and found them refreshing, not too sweet and probably best over a glass of ice.
They are also a sneak preview for more to come from the company later this summer: Maui-made gin and whiskey, says company co-founder and CEO Garrett Marrero.
The gin and tonic is a classic hot-summer-day drink and Marrero says it’s particularly well suited to canning. “We made a killer gin and a killer tonic and we blended them together; we made each of them independently great.”
He says the tonic has about half the sugar found in many competing tonics: “It’s very flavor-forward in lemongrass, citrus, a bit of quinine, of course, but not overpowering.”
The gin includes flavors of hibiscus and kaffir lime as well as traditional juniper, and Marrero maintains that the gin and tonic doesn’t need the customary lime wedge. The other two cocktails feature whiskey: one mixed with the company’s ginger beer, which came out last summer, and the other blended with cola.
Produced in the Kīhei brewery, the canned cocktails are the result of a decade of planning, says Marrero. “We’re pretty darn stoked to be releasing the canned cocktails because it’s been a dream of ours for a long time.”
Initially, they are for sale in a four-pack for $18.99 from the restaurants and Marrero expects them to be in retail stores by mid-month.
Marrero says it’s part of the company evolution to continue to add locally made beverages, as the state’s largest independent craft beer producer enters its 15th year: “We’ll always be based in our core of craft beer.” The company is best known for producing local canned beer including: Bikini Blonde Lager, Big Swell IPA and Coconut Hiwa Porter as well as a full line of draft and canned beer. The company also expanded to four restaurants in the past year.
Marrero sees the canned cocktails as an extension of the company mission to produce quality local beverages that are mostly sold in the Islands. Maui Brewing first branched out with nonalcoholic root beer so that families who went on the brewery tours could all sit down and order a drink together.
Photo: Robbie Dingeman
He describes the whiskey as white whiskey distilled from malted barley and local Maui corn, briefly aged in oak barrels.
Last summer, the company added ginger beer and cola, and a few months ago, a tonic water. It’s clear the canned cocktail market has taken off over that time. A 2016 industry analysis predicted a 9% increase in the ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages by 2021.
Maui’s three new drinks follow a trend toward more natural ingredients and less sugar than Zima and other sweet beverages that were earlier sold in single-serving bottles. “Kupu” means to grow or sprout in Hawaiian.
He says it did take a change in the state law in 2013, which allows a single brewery/distillery to make more than one type of alcoholic beverage. Expect more canned cocktails: a vodka-soda drink and some form of mule drink in the future.
Marrero says they would have canned a Maui mule drink with ginger beer “but the Maui mule as a trademark is owned by another very large company so we haven’t done that yet.”
And he’s looking at spiked seltzer or hard water, flavored with 4% to 5% alcohol. He’s focused on getting the three newest restaurants “where they need to be,” as the company dreams up more local beverages.