I Tried Trader Joe’s New Canned Cocktail. Does It Pass the Summer Drinking Test?

updated Jun 21, 2019
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Credit: Elisabeth Sherman

Canned cocktails are having a moment, and personally I’m all for it. I love an adorable pink can of rosé I can stash in my purse for a day in the park, or a six-pack of canned gin and tonics that I can bring to a party, so I’m not spending all night squeezing limes by the sink. The latest cocktail in a can that has caught my eye is from Trader Joe’s (of course) and it’s called the Lemon Peal. Could this finally dethrone rosé as my drink of the summer?

Trader Joe’s describes Lemon Peal as a “malt beverage with lemon juice” — so it’s like a cross between a hard lemonade and citrus beer. Sounds great in theory. The weather is humid and sticky where I live, so I felt a crisp, refreshing, lemon-based cocktail would be the perfect antidote to the unbearable heat. So I cracked open a can, pressed play on the Deadwood movie, and hoped the combination of air conditioning and cold drink would finally bring me some relief.

Unfortunately, I ended up disappointed. Lemon Peal might look innocent, but it’s actually quite a strong drink. It’s tart, too, and this is coming from a person who is known to add the juice of an entire lemon to fruit pies all summer long. The sugar from the lemon juice just ended up giving me a headache, and while I would have liked to indulge in a second can, I had to give up after a couple sips when the sweetness became overwhelming.

Credit: Elisabeth Sherman

The flavor of the drink tows the line between beer and lemonade but I ended up wishing there was a clearer distinction. It is a lemon-drop cocktail in a can, or a hard lemonade? Or is it a citrus beer? I couldn’t really figure out where Trader Joe’s was aiming with this one.

My overall verdict would be to save this one for a picnic or a day at the beach —  pretty much any time when you’re outside, the sun is shining, and you have a large cooler of ice nearby. To be fair, I think my fatal error was probably drinking Lemon Peal inside on an overcast day. It is refreshing and summery, the sort of drink that only works during the summer months. It’s best suited, I think, to that exact moment when you emerge from the ocean, covered in salt water and sand, and all you’re craving is a cold drink with a little extra kick to it. When I head to the beach next weekend, I’ll definitely be taking the rest of the case with me.