Guide to ready to drink cocktails
From vodka mules to margaritas, this page contains all the information you need to know about ready to drink cocktails.
We’ll be the first to say it. Sometimes, the best cocktails are the ones shaken up by bartenders. Who doesn't love a tasty spritz at your favorite outdoor patio? Admit it though, there’s also an occasion or two (or 10) where you just want something a little easier. What if we told you there was a drink you could buy that provided all the flavor of your favorite cocktail without the need to buy it at the bar or get the ingredients at home? This is where ready to drink is just what you want. Whether you’re at the beach, tailgating, having brunch at home or straight up you're just out of tequila and there's no way you're heading out to get ingredients to shake up a cocktail - RTDs are a must.
Historically, the best way to get your hands on a fresh and delicious cocktail instantly has been to order one from a bartender. You have to admit, though, there’s an occasion or two, or maybe 10, where you want a delicious cocktail without heading out to a bar. Maybe you’re at the beach, tailgating, having brunch, or just curled up on the couch and you don’t want to have to lug out a cocktail shaker, ice and multiple ingredients to whip up the drink you want. That’s where ready to drink (RTD) cocktails are a must.
What are ready to drink cocktails (or RTDs)?
Ready to drink, or RTD, are premium pre-made cocktails made with premium liquors. They’re made with a variety of different mixers & flavors (think mango, cucumber, peach, lemon - pretty much anything under the sun) shaken up with liquors like vodka, tequila or whiskey to basically create the perfect pre-packaged and easily transportable beverage. RTDs have really spiked in popularity recently - and why shouldn’t they? They’re portable, tasty and convenient as heck. Not to mention you can get all the taste of a cocktail at home without the mess of actually making one - and if you don’t feel like beer but you want the portability of a can, you can only drink so many hard seltzers.
One of the best things about RTDs is that you have the ability to try new craft cocktails without the commitment of buying different bottles of beer, wine, liquor or mixers for a new recipe. Think you might like a cocktail but don't want to commit to purchasing all the ingredients? RTDs are for you. Want to try a new grapefruit, mango or ginger cocktail without the need to actually buy any produce? RTDs. Or maybe you're trying to get into quality cocktails but don't want to buy a billion garnishes. RTDs.
As we mentioned before - you can get a RTD cocktail with pretty much any base spirit in it. So go ahead and try out a new ready to drink tequila cocktail or an old fashioned, no prep needed. Or maybe you're feeling summery and want a little whiskey and lemonade action from your favorite distiller. RTDs have your new bartender-free lifestyle covered.
Why are RTDs gaining popularity?
When restaurants and bars closed in March 2020, we had to find a way to bring bar cocktails home. Thus the “let’s grab a mai tai at the rooftop bar!” lifestyle shifted to Googling “negroni at home recipe”. It wasn’t long before we realized we didn’t have to buy a shaker set, five liquors, and ten fruits to achieve the perfect cocktail. Enter RTDs, which provided convenience, controlled ABVs, and a quality consistent taste (sorry, we all know the first batch of at-home concoctions garnered questionable eye squints).
Over time, the RTD category has evolved past artificial ingredients and neon colors, and into a massive category that celebrates the complexity of natural flavors and premium liqueurs. What started as a convenient way to drink - as long as you were OK with “whiskey-flavored” malt beverages - has also grown into a chance for premium craft cocktail experimentation without breaking the bank. Imagine - gin and tonic, bloody mary, watermelon mojito, moscow mule, and ginger matcha cocktail all in one Drizly order to please your new adventurous palate!
Seven of the the top ten fastest-growing ready-to-drink products on Drizly boast classic cocktail flavors, including the Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic, Dogfish Head Scratch-Made Cocktails Cherry Bergamot Whiskey Sour, Uptown Cocktails Piña Colada, and margarita flavors from several brands.
While the RTD cocktail category remains small on Drizly, it has made significant gains over previous years. In 2021, RTDs accounted for nearly 2 percent share of total sales — doubling from 2020 and five times 2019 sales.
What are a few popular RTD brands?
Another member of the canned, hard seltzer family to hit the American market, High Noon offers its own twist on these beach-ready beverages. High Noon stands above the crowded field, using a real vodka base in lieu of the often used malt liquor in similar brands. High Noon also uses only real fruit juice in its eight tasty flavors: pineapple, black cherry, grapefruit, lime, peach, mango, passionfruit and watermelon.
On the Rocks
On The Rocks Cocktails was crafted to rise to your occasion and bring the bar you. Premium spirits, all-natural ingredients, cane sugar sweetened, preservative-free drink cocktails. Bar-Quality, Bar-Strength. Simply pour over ice and serve. Amongst their most popular creations are cosmopolitan, margarita, and old-fashioned cocktails.
Fishers Island is an award-winning, premium vodka and barrel-aged whiskey spiked lemonade craft cocktail-in-a-can. There is no malt or corn syrup and no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors. Their summer staple lemonade variation cocktails are refreshing and can be sipped from a chilled 12oz can, poured over ice, or used in many mixed drink recipes.
This Maryland brand champions a balanced blend of premium rum, vodka, gin, tequila, triple sec and natural flavors. Just add ice!! Try their original long island tea, or mix it up a bit with their peach iced tea, kamikaze, or orange driver cocktail variations.
Cutwater is totally dedicated to exploring what’s possible with alcoholic beverages. Their portfolio includes vodka, rums, whiskeys, tequilas and liqueurs, all in their finest forms, and all of them — gasp! — in a can. They’re perfect anywhere: at barbecues, on fishing boats or celebrating a successful expedition to Everest. The flavor is optional. The adventure is mandatory!
Popular ready to drink cocktails
High Noon Hard Seltzer Variety Pack
High Noon Vodka Hard Seltzers are made with real fruit juice, sparkling water and natural flavors. This crisp and refreshing drink only has 100 calories, no added sugar and it's gluten free. Enjoy straight from the can or served over ice. This pack includes - watermelon, cherry, grapefruit and pineapple.
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Cutwater Vodka Mule
A Mule with a Kick. Ginger, a splash of bitters, and a hint of lime makes for the start of an unforgettable mule. They mix in their exceptionally smooth award-winning Cutwater Vodka and the party really gets started. The end result is spicy, bold, and ready-to-enjoy from a copper-colored can.
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On The Rocks Knob Creek Bourbon Old Fashioned Cocktail
Staying true to the original recipe, On The Rocks keeps their Old Fashioned strong and simple using a generous pour of Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey, bitters, cane sugar, orange, cherry, and lemon zest.
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Long Drink Traditional - Citrus Soda. Real Liquor.
Long Drink Traditional is citrus soda with real liquor (gin, if you’re curious), at 5.5% alc/vol. Finland's most enjoyed alcohol is a refreshing thirst quencher. Gluten free. Enjoy!
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Fishers Island Lemonade
Fishers Island Lemonade is an award-winning, premium vodka and barrel-aged whiskey spiked lemonade craft cocktail-in-a-can. The original, gluten-removed, full strength 9% ABV recipe from The Pequot Inn on Fishers Island, New York.
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Montebello Long Island Iced Tea
A balanced blend of rum, vodka, gin, tequila, triple sec and natural flavors, caramel color added. Just add ice!! Oh, and pay attention to the ABV on this one - at 21% it’s 4x stronger than a typical beer, so…be careful. It is a Long Island Iced Tea after all.
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Jack Daniel’s Whiskey & Cola
A perfect mix of Jack Daniel's Old No 7 Whiskey and Cola. What else do we need to say?
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Crown Royal Whisky & Cola Cocktail
Enjoy a royally delicious cocktail in a ready-to-drink can with Crown Royal Whisky and Cola Canadian Whisky Cocktail. Featuring the signature smoothness of traditional Crown Royal Whisky combined with cola, this cocktail offers an effortlessly delicious way to relax or celebrate. For a refreshing tasting cocktail, simply pour in a glass with ice and garnish with a lime wedge.
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Loyal 9 Lemonade Vodka Cocktail
An easy to drink cocktail right at your fingertips, Loyal 9 Lemonade Vodka Cocktail will bring new flavors to your day. With a sophisticated and refreshing taste, this stand out drink will become a crowd favorite. Rebelling against fake ingredients, this cocktail is unlike the rest made with real lemons and vodka at a 9% ABV. This cocktail is best enjoyed chilled or in a glass over ice. Real vodka. Real fruit. Real flavor.
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Ranch Rider Ranch Water
This Texas staple is a popular bar call from Austin to Marfa. Ranch Rider’s version contains sparkling water, fresh lime juice & reposado tequila.