There are fewer saunas in Finland than there are people. But it’s close. Who wouldn’t want to spend the afternoon dashing between a hot sauna and a frozen lake? Naked. The Finns aren’t body shy.
And here’s the cultural irony: Finns who like to sauna naked in groups are equally happy to drink inside alone. In their underwear. It’s called kalsarikännit—literally drinking alone at home in your underwear—also known as “pantsdrunk.” Yep, the Finns were socially distancing before it was an international thing.
This was the moment The Long Drink company was waiting for. Long Drink’s origins date to the 1952 Summer Olympics held in Helsinki. Governmental scientists (maybe mixologists) concocted a new drink that would be easy to serve to its visitors. A quick email with my old friend Teemu back in Helsinki confirmed the popularity of “lonkero,” and he recommended trying both grapefruit and cranberry flavors.
Our yellow lab is named for star Finnish goalie Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins) and Rask’s investment in Syracuse, NY-based Long Drink earlier this year piqued my curiosity. Back in 2014, company founder Evan Burns happened to meet and befriend Finnish students Sakari Manninen and Ere Partanen, here on an exchange program. Evan’s friends lured him to Finland for a visit, and while he ate reindeer there, the cocktail was what he brought home. Good call.
The Long Drink comes in four varieties. Traditional (blue can) is gin with grapefruit and juniper berry flavor. There’s a white can, low-calorie version and a black can with a bit more than the 5.5% traditional strength. The red can subs in cranberry for grapefruit. These are thirst quenchers; martini lovers are going to miss the real gin taste. It’s barely in there, just part of the mix, and the grapefruit version is a bit sweet. Serve Long Drinks in a glass with plenty of ice; at our house, we add a little lime with the cranberry version.
Trying a Long Drink this spring had a socially responsible benefit. The company challenged people to post social media photos with the hashtag #pantsdrunk and donated $10 to the U.S. Bartenders Guild to help suddenly unemployed restaurant workers.
Heading into its third summer of business, Long Drink is available in 9 states—more are on the way—and everywhere online. Whether you’re out with friends or alone in your underwear, it’s time to try gin in a can.