If you’ve been to Shady Lady Saloon, then you probably know Ryan Seng. Or at least, you indirectly know Seng, because you’re familiar with his striking artwork. You also might know he’s a longtime bartender in town, formerly at Shady Lady and now at Grange Restaurant & Bar.
Now, he’s embarking on launching his first business: Can Can Cocktails. Cocktails in a can, essentially. He’s been thinking about the concept “for forever,” as someone who can’t consume gluten and dreams of bringing six-packs of cocktails to parties.
“I’m always jealous of my friends when they can just open a can of beer,” he says.
When Seng noticed last August that Ballast Point unveiled ready-to-drink canned cocktails, he called a lawyer to make sure the whole enterprise is legal. Prior to that, he always assumed canning cocktails was this unattainable goal. Then, he began making plans.
In order to bypass the outrageous number of cans he’d have to produce by using a standard canning machine—200,000 cans often make up a single run, he says—Seng plans to open his own small-batch canning facility. That means, in the future, restaurants and bars could make their own canned cocktails through Seng.
But that’s pretty far down the road. To help move things along, he’s hosting a free party on the Metropolitan Terrace at the Citizen Hotel (926 J Street) from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, March 4 to promote his Kickstarter campaign. There will be free appetizers from Grange chef Oliver Ridgeway as well as live entertainment from the Element Brass Band, DJ Shaun Slaughter and Boomtown Trio, which features Seng’s daughter.
Plus, Seng will have five kegs of future Can Can Cocktails, with pours available to purchase. Those flavors are a gin and tonic with grapefruit juice and lemongrass tonic; Boar’s Bourbon Sarsaparilla, which is basically a bourbon root beer; Jenny & the Mule, Seng’s version of a Moscow Mule; Shady Lady Old Fashioned; and a Sacto local drink, featuring locally-distilled Wheel House 916 vodka, local meyer lemons, local mint and local honey.
As for distribution, Seng plans to start with a focus on Sacramento bars, restaurants and grocery stores. He expects bars will sell cans at a similar price point to their other cocktails, but plans for folks to be able to pick up packs—studded with his artwork, of course—at a market for about $3 per can. Seng’s goal for all of this is August, because he wants to participate in Midtown Cocktail Week in some fashion, “even if I have to give them away,” he says.