Summer in Seattle instills the need to suck the last bit of vitamin D out of every cloudless moment. There are ferries to ride and trails to hike, and packing an appropriate thirst-quenching beverage is essential. Of course, consuming alcohol in public is illegal, but who hasn't snuck a tallboy onto the Bainbridge Island ferry? Wouldn't it be nice to have a picnic in the park without all the corks and the dead-giveaway glass? That's where wine-in-a-box comes in handy.
There are plenty of wines showing up in multiple-liter boxes and Tetra Paks, and they don't all suck. In Australia, home to some of the easiest-drinking wines on earth, boxed wine is as common as bottled. Tindindi, a label with local ties, and Banrock Station offer boxes of good red and white for the equivalent of less than $5 a bottle. Washington's Tefft Cellars sells merlot and chardonnay in 4-liter boxes (equivalent to 5.3 bottles) for around $20. California's Three Thieves puts wine into 1-liter Tetra Paks, just like soy milk, and also makes a 250-milliliter size, the greatest juice box ever. Three Thieves' Bandit pinot grigio is damn refreshing, and its Bandit cabernet sauvignon would pair fabulously with a Dick's Deluxe and a walk through the sculpture park.
Celebrating a promotion? Splurge with wee splits of Duval-Leroy champagne. Celebrating just making it through the day? Jacob's Creek makes cute bottles of their fruity Aussie sparkler, but the minis of Segura Viudas cava ($3 or less) have the best bang per buck. Wine shops will special order minis, but you may have to buy the whole case and find 23 other little triumphs to celebrate.
Thanks to the energy-drink craze, oddly shaped cans raise zero alarm these days. When I worked retail, I sold the hell out of Niebaum-Coppola's Sofia bubbly in a can. At 250 milliliters, it's a glass and a half of hot-pink girly goodness—and it comes with its own bendy straw. In other pink-can news, Bavik's Wittekerke Rosé comes in a wee 250-milliliter hot-pink package reminiscent of the current iPod campaign (curvy silhouette of a woman done in neon green). Beer of the year it's not. But as an outdoor revitalizer, it's tops. Ask your local specialty-beer provider or hit up Bottleworks.
Though it's more common in the Northwest to bring a six-pack of micro to a party, you can enjoy good, refreshing beer out of aluminum that's not PBR. Oskar Blues, out of Colorado, has garnered a ton of good press since they released a stellar Dale's Pale Ale and malty rich Old Chub in cans almost four years ago. Both have better-than-average placement in grocery stores.
What about mini bottles of sake from Uwajimaya or the good ol' airplane-sized bottles of hooch? There are so many ways, and so many days left of summer, to make your own single-serving friends.