Cutwater’s Canned Cocktail Empire | The Well

Welcome to this edition of The Well, where we’re diving into the effervescent world of Cutwater Spirits, the brand that transformed the ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail market with a splash of innovation and a dash of distilling genius. Sit back, crack open your favorite Cutwater can, and join us as we explore how a hobby turned into a hallmark of cocktail culture.

The Story of Cutwater

In the bustling beer scene of San Diego, a curious brewmaster named Yuseff Cherney was fermenting more than just hops. At Ballast Point Brewing, where he was head brewer and COO, Cherney found his second calling in the art of distillation. It was here, in a makeshift distillery crafted from a beer fermenter, that the seeds of Cutwater Spirits were sown.

Fast forward from those experimental days in 2007 to 2015, Cherney turned his distilling side gig into the main event. With the sale of Ballast Point for a cool $1 billion, he launched Cutwater Spirits, bringing his craft from the brewery floor to the forefront of the burgeoning RTD market.

Cutwater isn’t just another canned cocktail company. It’s a testament to quality and creativity, often cited as the first distillery in San Diego since Prohibition—a claim that stirs up as much pride as it does debate. But what really sets Cutwater apart is its dedication to crafting each cocktail from in-house distilled spirits, ensuring that every sip delivers the full flavor and potency of a professionally mixed drink.

From vodka sodas to more exotic concoctions like the Bali Hai Tiki Rum Mai Tai, Cutwater’s portfolio is a parade of variety and innovation. The brand constantly refreshes its lineup with new flavors and twists on classic cocktails, ensuring there’s always something new popping out of their cans.

Cutwater’s approach to RTD cocktails is rooted in real distilling. While other brands might rely on generic alcohol bases, Cutwater uses its own spirits—vodka, rum, gin, and tequila—distilled under the San Diego sun. This commitment to authenticity is likely why their products have racked up over 2,000 awards in just a few years.

The brand’s adventurous spirit extends beyond its flavor profiles. Cutwater also collaborates with the Orendain family in Jalisco, Mexico, to create tequilas that are as authentic as they are innovative, using traditional methods like cooking the agave in brick ovens before distilling.

Despite the occasional misstep (here’s looking at you, plum schnapps), Cherney views each experiment as a step towards perfection. This brewer-turned-distiller’s philosophy is simple: high-quality ingredients and meticulous craft lead to superior cocktails, whether they’re served in a glass or enjoyed from a can.

As we raise our cans to Cutwater Spirits, we’re not just toasting to a drink. We’re celebrating a visionary who saw beyond the brewery, a team that values innovation, and a brand that continues to push the boundaries of what an RTD cocktail can be.

Why I Love Cutwater

  • Hands down my favorite ready-to-drink cocktails.
  • Cherney is a visionary who saw beyond the brewery.
  • Cutwater continues to push the boundaries of what an RTD cocktail can be.

Ryan McCann
Growth & Marketing, Saucey

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