Pre-Mixed Cocktails: A 19th Century Drink with a 21st Century Spin.

Pre-Mixed Cocktails: A 19th Century Drink with a 21st Century Spin.

Becky O'Rourke

As a smaller player in the larger adult beverage market, and with more people reducing the amount of alcohol they consume, RTD brands must offer more than convenience to stay relevant in the category. And with a suite of innovative concepts and flavors, they do not disappoint.

In fact, 19% of people report buying a pre-mixed cocktail in the past three months. Only 49% of these ready-to-go drinkers claim to consume less alcohol, vs. 57% of the general population. They also are more likely to use alcohol to socialize and relax at night.

Interestingly, while these consumers have no problem drinking alcohol, they are also more likely to want more non-alcoholic options.These drinkers tend to skew younger, with 40% of Millennials and 35% of Gen X saying they’ve purchased a pre-made cocktail from the RTD category in the past three months.

RTD Cocktails – Innovating since the 19th Century!

Canned and bottled cocktails have come a long way since our great-great-grandparent's days. Even though ready-to-drink cocktails have been booming as of late, the origins of canned cocktails began in the late 1800s.The beverages gained popularity after the invention of aluminum can liners, which helped prevent the aluminum can from negatively flavoring the drink.

Hard seltzers helped pave the way for the growth of RTD cocktails. They were a departure from the traditional malt liquor drinks and wine coolers, offering consumers a lower calorie and better-tasting alcohol option.

From there, it was a natural transition to start offering different cocktails in the ready-to-drink format, which was boosted by the quarantine when people could not go to bars for their favorite drinks.

Canned cocktails helped bridge the gap until we were able to socialize again. By then, people relished the convenience of bringing cocktails out quickly, without juggling ingredients and a shaker.  

Let’s take a look at some of the fun options out there!

Bacardi RTD beverages in multiple flavors

Alcohol brands were quick to jump on board, with many releasing their own canned cocktail concoctions. Bacardi released a line of canned rum drinks in various flavors, such as rum punch, mojito, Bahama mama, and piña colada. Fun fact, Bacardi was one of the companies that initially released canned cocktails in the 1960s!

Jack Daniels Apple Fizz, Cola, and Lemonade

Jack Daniel’s released canned cocktails in three flavors to bring out the best qualities in their whisky line: a classic Jack and Cola,Apple Fizz, using Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple Whiskey, and Honey Lemonade, using JD Tennessee Honey Whiskey. All cans contain 7.0% ABV and are ready to drink straight out of the can.

Slow & Low Rock & Rye RTD beverage

We’re also seeing a resurgence of those prohibition-era drinks taking advantage of the ready-to-go format. Many classic cocktails from the 1920s (bee’s knees, anyone?) are being canned and labeled with can art reminiscent of the time. Slow and Low’s Rock & Rye cans their tried-and-true recipe of rye whiskey, rock candy, raw honey, angostura bitters, and orange peel. Slow & Low also offers their Rock and Rye in 750ml bottles for easy pouring and sharing.

Tip Top Manhattan Cocktails

Tip Top Cocktails was created with the idea that you should be able to have good cocktails wherever you go, like music venues and outdoor festivities.  They have fun, vintage-style packaging and offer classic shaken or stirred cocktails, like a proper daiquiri, margarita, negroni, or Manhattan. Alcohol content ranges from 24% to37% ABV and can be drunk straight out of the can or poured over ice. Tip Top helped formulate their recipes with the help of James Beard finalist, bartender Miles Macquarrie.

For those who like to share, brands also make pre-mixed cocktails in full-sized bottles (think the pre-made margarita mix you used to sneak off the shelf in high school). Gone are the days of sickly sweet and processed tasting bottled cocktails. These options are carefully handcrafted and tested to bring out the best in the base alcohol.

Bottle of Holy Tiger Mai Tai mix

Holy Tiger by Shannon Mustipher reimagines the Mai Tai. Shannon is a leader in the world of women bartenders who (literally) wrote the book on tiki: Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails. Each bottle holds six cocktails, so they’re good for a party or having on hand at home.

Row of Flybird Margaritas n six flavors

Flybird makes a line of wine cocktail margaritas that are more margarita than wine and oh-so-good. In unique, refreshing flavors like prickly pear and passion fruit, the cocktails are made with agave wine for a true south-of-the-border vibe.

So, the next time you find yourself wanting an adult beverage, consider putting down the shaker and picking up a six-pack (or bottle!) to tryout this new wave of ready-to-drink cocktails.

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