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 for Ready-to-Drink Cocktails

Handy & Schiller Barreled Old Fashioned
96 points
$39.99
Copper color. Aromas and flavors of chocolate mint gelato, spiced pistachio nougat, pink pepper, and herbal mint tea with a round, vibrant, off-dry medium body and a warming, complex, long candied citrus peels, brown spices, and hint of menthol mint finish. A delicious ready-to-drink cocktail that tastes homemade.
Awards: 2018 Best Barrel Aged RTD
96 points $39.99
Doc Pepe’s Lab Cuvée Reserve Barrel Old Fashioned
95 points
$48
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.
Cutwater Tequila Lime Margarita RTD
94 points
$14.99
Best Buy
Hazy slivery straw color. Spicy, earthy aromas of bay leaf, dried lime, smoked poblano, and spiced tea with a round, crisp, sweet light-to-medium body and a tingling, interesting, medium-length grilled peach, lime confection, coconut cookies, and elotes finish. An interesting and earthy cocktail that will play well with Latin fare; serve on the rocks.
Awards: 2018 Best Other RTD
94 points $14.99 Best Buy
Rancho La Gloria Margarita 100% Agave Wine Cocktail
93 points
Pale cloudy golden green color. Citrusy, attractive aromas and flavors of lime and lemon curds, meringue, and tropical and green apple Starburst candies with a supple, tangy, fruity sweet medium-to-full body and an even, appealing, long lime sorbet, honeyed mango and orange, and wisp of peppered jicama finish. A rich and tangy crowd-pleasing margarita with vibrant citrus flavor and long mouthwatering finish. Serve on ice.
Cutwater Fugu Mild Bloody Mary RTD
93 points
$14.99
Best Buy
Murky ruby color. Aromas of tomato, kosher dill, lemon zest, celery leaf, and caraway and basil with a supple, crisp, dryish medium-to-full body and a peppery, layered, long horseradish, black pepper, and southern hot sauce finish. A great ready-to-drink bloody with plenty of horseradish kick; serve on ice.
93 points $14.99 Best Buy
Novo Fogo Sparkling Caipirinha RTD
93 points
$15.99
Best Buy
Clear color. Spicy aromas and flavors of peppered artichoke, dressed arugula, grilled sugar cane, and charred plantain with a satiny, vibrant, fruity sweet light-to-medium body and a peppery, interesting, medium-length lime confection and pineapple-banana finish. A peppery and citrusy cocktail with gobs of rustic sugar cane notes.
93 points $15.99 Best Buy
Cutwater Fugu Vodka Soda Cucumber
92 points
$14.99
Best Buy
Clear color. Aromas of lemon-lime soda, fresh sliced cucumber, and watermelon rind with a satiny, vibrant, bone-dry light body and a smooth, medium-length chalk, minerals, and lime zest finish. A super-refreshing, portable vodka-soda.
92 points $14.99 Best Buy
Cutwater Fugu Vodka Soda Lime RTD
92 points
$14.99
Best Buy
Clear color. Citrusy aromas of sliced lime, dried lavender, and fresh lemon peel with a satiny, crisp, dry medium body and an effortless, cheery mineral water and sea salt finish. An ultra-refreshing cocktail; dry and quenching like artesian mineral water.
92 points $14.99 Best Buy
Original Bartenders Margarita
91 points
$9.99
Best Buy
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
Coppa Long Island Iced Tea Cocktail
91 points
$13.99
Best Buy
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