About Ready-to-Drink Cocktails

Ready to Drink cocktails, or RTDs, are just that: conveniently packaged, alcohol-included cocktails that are ready to drink on their own, chilled, or with ice.

Sometimes referred to as flavored malt beverages (FMBs), malternatives, alcopops, or even "wine coolers", these started out as sweet, fruity, "highly palatable" concoctions using cheaper malt alcohol bases in the US in the late 1980's through 2004. In recent years, the category has migrated towards more classic cocktails conceptions using fresher, more natural tasting ingredients and clearly identifiable distilled spirits as their base.

Top Picks and Reviews for Ready-to-Drink Cocktails

Old Forester
Ready-to-Drink Mint Julep
Medium golden amber color. Oaky aromas and flavors of masa and caramel, violet, eucalyptus, and demerara with a glycerous, sweet medium-to-full body and a warming, involved, medium-length aromatic bitters, crystalized ginger, peppermint, and caraway seed finish. A dead ringer for a freshly-made Mint Julep.
96 points $24.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Moscow Mule
Cloudy straw beige color. Earthy aromas of fresh cut ginger and pepper with a tangy and nicely tingling medium-to-full body and a long, peppery, honeyed ginger finish. On the rocks brings out an interesting tropical fruit dimension. A tremendous rendition of a Moscow Mule cocktail with outstanding natural ginger character; a world class RTD. Serve on the rocks.
96 points $19.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Doc Pepe’s Lab
Cuvée Reserve Barrel Old Fashioned
Dark amber color. Sweet aromas of caramel, fresh cigar, and grilled peach with a syrupy, very sweet medium-full body and a subtle, very long vanilla cola, ginger powder, dark caramel and butterscotch, and milk chocolate and clove finish. Barrel aged spirits lovers with be over the moon with this rich ready-to-drink cocktail.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Opaque pearly straw color. Pleasing vegetal agave aromas of roasted yellow peppers, yams, dates with grapefruit zest high note. Tart with a medium-to-full body and a grapefruit compote palate with the emphasis on the rind. On the rocks things liven up and the citrus rind and agave balances out nicely with a long mouthwatering finish. Definitely a more serious Paloma than just tequila and Squirt. Serve on the rocks.
94 points $19.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Original Bartenders
Golden green color. Rustic, inviting aromas and flavors of vanilla caramel and roasted marshmallow, lime zest, salt water taffy, and roasted nuts and agave with a round, racy, sweet medium body and a complex, medium-length salted butterscotch with orange zest finish. True tequila flavors shine in this ready-to-drink margarita.
91 points $9.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Long Island Iced Tea Cocktail
Minutely hazy gold color. Baked aromas and flavors of spiced yams and oranges, cola, and sarsaparilla with an even, vibrant, moderately sweet medium-full body and a sleek, intricate, medium-length rich brown spices, gingerbread, lemon tea, and mincemeat finish. A solid cola cocktail.
91 points $13.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Cutwater Spirits
Old Grove Gin and Tonic Ready-To-Drink Cocktail
Silver clear color. Green aromas of cucumber and watermelon, biscuit, thyme, and lavender with a satiny, lively, bubbly, moderately sweet light body and an interesting, medium-length Italian lemonade, quinine, and grapefruit peel finish. A great cucumber number with a long, refreshing finish.
90 points $14.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
High West
The 36th Vote Barreled Manhattan
Deep copper bronze color. Aromas of orange zest, dried cherry, spice, waxy honeycomb, and praline with a silky, fruity sweet medium-to-full body and a nicely balance finish. On the rock, more integration with some sassafras, herb, and tropical fruit notes emerging. Very nice and approachable, a little like an Old fashioned. Serve on the rocks.
90 points $49.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Georgian Bay
Gin Smash
Clear color. Citrusy aromas of lemon-lime soda and mint with a round, vibrant, bubbly, sweet light-to-medium body and a short celery leaf, crystalized lemon and lime peel, ginger candy, and bitter almond finish. A citrusy-sweet refresher for the beach with very subtle juniper notes.
89 points $3.50 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Pineapple Mimosa
Cloudy bright golden yellow color. Fruity aromas of pineapple and custard with a supple, petillant, fruity sweet medium-to-full body and a tingling, interesting, tropical fruit salad and chalk finish with no oak. A tasty pineapple treat.
89 points $11 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab