Top 5 Ready To Drink Cocktail Brands
The ready to drink (RTD) market has been exploding since late 2019. The pandemic has only further accelerated this growth as cocktail and seltzer brands have started to tap into this newly emerged demographic of at-home and on-the-go drinkers.
We’ve recently covered the fact that the RTD cocktail market is a drinks trend to watch out for in 2021. With this article though, we’re going to give you a rundown of some of the top RTD cocktail brands to keep an eye on as it’s not necessarily the well-known players who are currently dominating this market.
This is therefore not just a generic list of mainstream brands. The RTD market has changed significantly and the key brands are now the premiumised offerings rather than a standard “rum and cola” in a can.
Sustainable manufacturing, healthy ingredients, low calorie, low ABV, low sugar and a strong brand message are just some of the factors that we’ve taken into consideration with this list. The following, in our opinion, are the 5 best ready to drink cocktail brands…
Miami Cocktail Company
A recent newcomer in the UK RTD cocktail market is the popular US brand Miami Cocktail Co. Originating from the trendy and forward-thinking area of Wynwood, Miami, the Miami Cocktail Co are a brand that appeals to the ever-growing health/wellness conscious market.
They have a simple message – #drinkclean
The range is devised to be clean, low calorie, organic and refreshing. Ingredients are carefully sourced to provide the healthiest drinking experience possible. You’ll find the products to be GMO free, vegan friendly, gluten free, free from preservatives or additives, low calorie with only 110 calories per can and a low ABV at 4%.
In an interview with Forbes, CEO Ross Graham summed up the companies focus by stating:
“In the past, most RTD’s were sugary, syrupy concoctions, loaded with chemical flavourings. Today’s consumers still value convenience, but they’re looking for cleaner products that allow them to enjoy a few drinks, without feeling like the health and wellness tradeoffs are too onerous.”
This shows how the new-age RTD cocktail market has changed drastically. “Healthy” cocktail offerings are a priority for consumers and Miami Cocktail Co are leading the way.
The cocktail range is created with wine as its alcoholic base and organic fruit used to finish the cocktail. The products are broken down into two key categories; the organic spritz (most popular) which includes Paloma, Margarita, Bellini, Mimosa and Sangria and small-batch cocktails which include Blood Orange Mimosa, Copper Pot Margarita and Sunset Sangria.
Miami Cocktail Co entered the UK market in 2020 through select stockists Harvey Nichols & Waitrose and we expect them to take off in 2021 with their low calorie, health-conscious message already proving to be successful in the states.
MOTH (Mix Of Total Happiness) is a new premium offering in the RTD cocktail market that is making a genuine effort to create “bar-quality” cocktails in a convenient and easy serve.
This is not an easy task as we know traditional RTD cocktails were typically more of an alcopop (despite many brands trying to avoid that title). MOTH is ditching the sugary, artificial flavourings and opting for premium ingredients with Co-Founder Rob Wallis stating they are “picky with provenance and every ingredient is chosen with precision”.
Another factor that will appeal to those that enjoy a genuine cocktail is that the MOTH range comes with a stronger ABV than your typical RTD cocktail. While three drinks in the range boast an ABV of 14.9% (almost 3x the strength of an average RTD cocktail), the Old Fashioned comes in at a much higher 20% ABV.
This ensures that MOTH not only replicates the taste of a bar quality cocktail but they also cover the strength of alcohol that most people expect from a true cocktail.
The range features four timeless variants made up of:
- Espresso Martini
- Old Fashioned
MOTH secured their first premium listing with Waitrose UK in February 2021 and we expect them to build on this niche as a premium provider in the RTD category.
Ace+Freak are a lesser known brand in the RTD cocktail market (you’re unlikely to see them on many supermarket shelves), yet simultaneously a brand with a strong message and direction making them an ever growing customer favourite.
Their cocktail range, driven by the headline “tasty AF cocktails in a can” is a product line targeting the health, ethical and sustainably conscious millennial/gen Z demographic.
The choice of flavours indicate that A+F are not your traditional cocktail offering:
- Ginger + Lemongrass Mule
- Mint + Elderflower Spritz
- Watermelon + Cucumber Sangria
- Passionfruit + Pineapple Rum Punch
- Blood Orange + Cranberry Spritz
Ingredients are chosen with a particular focus on quality (aiming to taste like a bar-quality cocktail), natural ingredients (vegan, gluten-free, no additives) and sustainability (locally sourced, lightweight cans, craft spirits and wine).
As a demonstration of their commitment to sustainability alongside more ethical business operations, A+F donate 5p from every can sold to Great Oven, a self-funded charity providing large community ovens to war-torn areas and refugee camps in Lebanon.
Ace+Freak are self-claimed to be designed for a generation of drinkers that give AF. Not only is the range Insta ready with strong brand direction but with £250k of investment raised through a recent funding round alongside plans to move to a new production facility, They are well primed to grow within the booming RTD category in 2021.
Served by Nohrlund
Served by Nohrlund is a premiumised RTD cocktail range devised and manufactured in Denmark.
Before even considering the drink itself, the packaging demonstrates that this is not your ordinary bottom shelf RTD. While most RTD cocktails are (and have previously been) manufactured in a can, the diamond etched glass bottle, minimalistic branding and gold accents give Served a classic, yet still eye-catching style.
As the RTD cocktail market moves towards a more premiumised model, Served by Nohrlund have capitalised on this market trend by entering the UK off-trade market in early 2021 (April 2021, stockist at Sainsbury stores exclusively).
Their range was built upon three classic cocktails (Bramble, Mojito and Passion Fruit Martini) from which founders and cocktail mixologists Anders Houmann and Søren Aamand added their own unique twist. These drinks are natural, organic, cold-pressed and free from additives or preservatives.
The selection of spirits used is also high-end selections which include vodka sourced from Poland and gin sourced from the world’s first organic gin distillery in London.
While most RTD cocktails appeal to younger drinkers under the age of 30, the Served range casts a wider net and aims to appeal to anyone that appreciates a well-made cocktail. From the premiumised packaging to the carefully selected ingredients, Served by Nohrlund are a leading example of what can be expected from future RTD cocktails.
Niche Cocktails is a little over a year old now. Since its inception in February 2020, the Suffolk-based brand has taken advantage of both the UK lockdown as well as the booming trend in the RTD cocktail market to create an impressive offering and range.
The main focus for Niche Cocktails is on the quality of the serve. RTD cocktails are designed to be convenient first and foremost but brands are now focusing on the quality of ingredients and taste. Niche Cocktails aim to create bar-quality cocktails with the same taste you’d expect from an expert mixologist.
The ingredients are therefore carefully selected and the cans come printed with “perfect serve” instructions to make it as easy and simple as possible to create a bar-quality cocktail from home… Or, you can just drink them straight from the can!
Their range features some solid classics (with a twist) including a matcha mojito, mocha martini and raspberry cosmo but where Niche Cocktails stands out is with their UK first lowball range. A blood orange old fashioned and manuka honey whiskey sour come in a 150ml can are ideal for those that enjoy a stronger drink whilst still having the convenience of an RTD.
They’ve also been one of the few companies to successfully tap into the home delivery market from an alcohol/drinks perspective. Their “build a box” and cocktail gift sets allow customers to mix and match their favourite options for a one-off purchase or a monthly subscription.
There is no doubt the RTD cocktail market is in a period of rapid growth. Premiumisation and healthier options are at the forefront of this resurgence in the RTD market, while global lockdowns initially helped to boost this market, continued growth is expected until 2031 according to trend analysts.
Some brands like East London Liquor Co, Cantails and Vacay were unfortunate to miss out on this list but we feel the brands in this article are just edging it at the moment. Their selection of ingredients, product range and brand messaging is very much on-trend and we expect them to continue to grow in popularity in 2021.