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Gin and Tonic at the Grocery Store

Sophia Barsalow pours canned gin and tonics at a press conference at the distillery’s Gin Lane site in Montpelier. Photo by Cassandra Hemenway.
Soon Vermonters will be able to pick up canned cocktails while grocery shopping thanks to a new law and a new partnership that has allowed Caledonia Spirits to expand its canned gin and tonic to retailers throughout the state

Starting April 17, the Montpelier distillery announced that “The Beer Guy” — the distributor owned by Lawson’s Finest Liquids — will be distributing the Barr Hill Gin canned cocktail to retail outlets beyond the usual 802 liquor stores. Thanks to Act 177, signed by Gov. Phil Scott in 2022, the canned drinks will be available in grocery stores and other retail outlets where beer and wine are sold. Beverages have to contain less than 12% alcohol to comply with the new law; the Barr Hill cocktail contains 9.3%.

“In the past we’ve only been able to sell bottled spirits to 89 or so retail outlets. Now we have access to hundreds (of retail outlets) that sell beer and wine,” said Harrison Kahn, vice president of marketing for Caledonia Spirits.

Caledonia’s house-made tonic syrup developed in Hardwick relies on whole cinchona bark, juniper berries, three kinds of citrus, lemongrass, and raw honey, making it “gin’s best friend,” said Caledonia’s Vermont Market Manager Sophia Barsalow at a press conference last week.

Sean Lawson, owner of Lawson’s Finest Liquids, said he’s committed to the “cold chain” keeping beer — and cocktails — cold throughout the distribution process. 

“These are ready-to-drink cocktails,” Kahn said. “And it’s not ready to drink unless it’s cold. That’s one of the reasons this partnership is so special.”

Developed during the pandemic, canned gin and tonic will hit the shelves this week, at $19.99 for a four pack.