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

On The Rocks The Jalapeño Pineapple Margarita RTD
96 points
Gold color. Aromas of dried pineapple, peach gummies, ginger, green bell pepper, and ripe gooseberry with a round, vibrant, fruity sweet medium-to-full body and a tingling, complex, medium-long jalapeño and apricot nectar finish. A smoky, spicy pineapple Margarita with tons of style; drinks like a freshly made craft cocktail.
Awards: 2021 Best Ready-To-Drink Cocktail
Novo Fogo Original Lime Sparkling Caipirinha Ready-to-Drink Cocktail
96 points
$15.99
Best Buy
Clear color. Aroma of funky cane with a satiny, vibrant, fruity light-to-medium body and a seamless, complex, medium-long key lime, apricot, grilled fruits and vegetables, coconut, lychee, and guanabana finish. A delicious, perfectly funky caipirinha in a can.
96 points $15.99 Best Buy
Cutwater Spirits RTD Lime Tequila Margarita
95 points
$12
Pale hazy silvery straw color. Aromas of earthy tequila, hints of bell pepper, and sweet squash with a round, crisp, fruity light-to-medium body and a smooth, amusing, medium-long salted lime, sweet agave nectar, and hints of sweet plantain finish. An astoundingly balanced canned Margarita that lets agave flavors take front and center.
Cutwater Spirits RTD Tequila Paloma
95 points
$12
Clear color. Aromas and flavors of herbal agave, caramel vanilla bonbon, and gherkin and cheese rind with a supple, vibrant, fruity medium body and a tingling, complex, very long finish manifesting notes of grapefruit soda and fruit punch sorbet. An excellent Paloma in a can with remarkable agave character.
On The Rocks The Old Fashioned RTD
94 points
Golden amber color. Aromas and flavors of candied nuts, caramel, crystallized orange peel, and sweet oak with a satiny, bright, off-dry light body and a warming, complex, long finish with notes of warm spices and brown sugar finish. A rock-solid Old Fashioned with perfectly balanced sweetness.
Crafthouse Pineapple Daiquiri RTD
94 points
$4.99
Cloudy gold color. Attractive aromas of honey roasted pineapple, caramel frosted banana cake, and holiday spices on honey creamed toast with a satiny, crisp, fruity sweet medium-full body and a tingling, elegant, very long copper pot still rum and caramel gelato finish. A superb pineapple Daiquiri to revel in.
94 points $4.99
Kirkland Signature RTD Golden Margarita
94 points
$8.99
Hazy straw yellow color. Aromas and flavors of agave nectar, ripe plantain, lime cordial, green apple, and warm clay with a satiny, vibrant, fruity sweet light-to-medium body and a silky, stimulating, medium-length finish with elements of caramelized tropical fruit and earthy tequila. A tasty Margarita with a delicious lip-smacking tang.
Awards: 2020 Best Ready-to-Drink Cocktail
94 points $8.99
CANTEEN Spirits Watermelon Vodka Soda RTD
93 points
$2
Clear color. Aromas and flavors of cucumber cooler, watermelon snow cone, and bubblegum with a supple, vibrant, dryish light body and a smooth, appealing, medium-length finish. A lively seltzer with the flavors of summer; pleasantly dry and refreshing.
The Long Drink Company Long Drink Traditional RTD
93 points
$2
Hazy slivery straw color. Citrusy aromas and flavors of grapefruit flesh, fizzy grapefruit soda, and lime peel with a satiny, vibrant, fruity sweet light-to-medium body and a sleek, interesting, medium-length finish with hints of rosemary. A fruity, easy-drinking grapefruit fizzer that refreshes.
Cutwater Spirits RTD Mango Margarita
93 points
$12
Bright cloudy golden yellow color. Fruity, tropical aromas and flavors of pineapple-mango smoothie and fresh orange with a round, crisp, fruity medium body and a warming, stimulating, medium-long finish conveying notes of Caribbean rum and hints of almond and coconut. A tropical, citrusy cocktail that packs a punch; well-executed, balanced and ready for discerning drinkers.