In the last few years, you’ve likely (between sips of hard seltzer) heard the term RTD. For those unaware, it stands for “Ready To Drink.” The simple definition is that an RTD is a single-serve, pre-packaged cocktail. With the rise of RTDs, you can now find pretty much any cocktail you can imagine in a canned or bottled version, ready to bring to the beach, a picnic, or your nephew’s second birthday party. Plus, unlike previous years, we’re in a bit of a golden age for RTDs that actually taste good. What could be better?
RTDs allow you to enjoy a Margarita, Old Fashioned, Paloma, or highball wherever you’re allowed to consume alcohol. Not just in a cocktail or dive bar, but anywhere. All you need to do is crack one open. Yet while there are many great RTDs, there are also many cloyingly sweet, terrible ones.
The Finnish Long Drink
If you’ve never heard of the Finnish Long Drink, it’s time to get on board. This 5.5 percent ABV RTD is based on the traditional long drink or “lonkero” of Finland that’s made with gin, grapefruit soda, juniper berries, and other flavors. The easy-to-drink, canned version is low in alcohol and consists of liquor and citrus soda. Effervescent, easy to drink, and lightly citrus. It’s a refreshing drink for a hot, humid day.
Tip Top Proper Negroni
There are beer-level ABV RTDs and then there are canned cocktails that are on par alcohol-wise with a drink you’d order at a bar. Tip Top makes the latter kind of RTDs. Instead of a 12-ounce can, these come in 100 ml cans and sit at a potent 26 percent ABV. The Proper Negroni is made with gin, dry vermouth, and red bitters. It’s bittersweet and filled with citrus and herbal flavors.
Pampelonne French 75
When it comes to refreshing cocktails, it’s tough to beat the sparkling prowess of the classic French 75. Pampelonne’s version isn’t as boozy as the one you’d get at a bar. It’s six percent ABV, made with French wine, and has natural flavors of ambrosia, elderflower, juniper, and Meyer lemon. It’s refreshing, floral, citrus-filled, and lightly spicy.
Cutwater Tequila Paloma
Cutwater is a big name in the RTD world. While you can’t go wrong with any of this brand’s offerings, the one you should try is the fresh, easy-drinking Cutwater Tequila Paloma. This 7 percent ABV RTD is made with Cutwater Blanco Tequila and grapefruit soda. It’s tart, sweet, and loaded with grapefruit flavor.
Slow & Low Rock and Rye
Slow & Low Rock and Rye is a 42 percent ABV instant cocktail made with rye whiskey, raw honey, naval oranges, rock candy, and bitters. The result is a bold, potent, sippable RTD with notes of cinnamon sugar, peppery rye spice, vanilla, herbal tea, and candied orange peels.
Fling Mai Tai
Tiki drinks brings some of the biggest and boldest flavors to the cocktail world. Sometimes overly boozy and sweet, Fling’s version of a Mai Tai is only 8 percent ABV. Made with rum, neutral spirits, lime, orange, and other natural flavors, it’s like an easier-drinking version of the high-octane cocktail classic.
Crown Royal Whisky & Cola
There are few cocktails as simple and classic as whisk(e)y and cola. Simply grab your favorite bourbon, rye, single malt scotch whisky, Canadian whisky, or whatever whiskey you prefer and mix it with your go-to cola in an ice-filled glass. If that’s too much work, you can crack open a Crown Royal Whisky & Cola. This award-winning 7 percent RTD is made with Canadian whisky, cola, other flavors, and caramel coloring. It’s classic, simple, and does the job.
Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic
Another classic, easy drinking cocktail is the iconic Gin & Tonic. All you need is gin, tonic water, and maybe a lime. If you’d rather just open a pre-packed version, you can grab some Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic RTDs instead. This 6.5 percent ABV G & T is simply London dry gin and tonic water. It’s refreshing, herbal, floral, and very crave-able.Learn More