Ready To Drink Volume 3: Major Brands Expand Canned Cocktail Offerings, Ciroc Joins the Party and More
Welcome to the third edition of the 2022 Ready To Drink rundown. Here at Whiskey Raiders, lots of ready-to-serve drinks cross our desks, the majority being canned cocktails. In this series, we present the canned and ready-to-drink (RTD) releases we’ve tried recently. Now, more than ever, shelves are crowded with different expressions, all vying to be purchased. With warmer weather on the horizon, canned cocktails and drinks offer convenience and portability that carrying around a home bar just can’t compete with. Which are a go and which should you avoid? We’ve got you covered. In case you missed previous volumes of Ready To Drink, check it out here, featuring new releases from Jameson, Jack Daniel’s, WhistlePig, Sauza, Wilder Whiskey and Two Trees.
Bacardi Adds to Canned Cocktails Cocktail Line With 3 New Tropical Flavors
Earlier this month, Bacardi announced three new additions to its line of canned cocktails: a Piña Colada and a new Mojito variety pack, which sees Bacardi’s previously released Mojito flavor accompanied by new Strawberry Mojito and Mango Mojito flavors.
Let’s start with the Piña Colada, which is tasty and very sweet. It starts fantastically, with an explosion of coconut, pineapple, citrus and fizz on the tip of the tongue. The rest of the sip isn’t as spectacular, as the coconut hangs around longer than the pineapple. Once left alone, the coconut notes are too sweet without tropical and citrus to balance it. There’s no finish at all here, as each drink fades quickly.
Now moving on to the mojitos. Bacardi’s original Mojito was already perhaps its strongest entry into the canned cocktail space, and it has successfully capitalized on that success with these new flavors. The strawberry and mango flavors in each drink are delicious. They blend wonderfully with the mint flavor, which is just present enough. Both of these new offerings offer tropical goodness. The fizz, mint and sweet fruitiness mix to make a really tasty, summery drink. I recommend adding some fresh mint for garnish with any of the mojito variants. This pack is a home run.
Overall, Bacardi is doing some of the best work in the canned cocktail space, and these new products, particularly the mojitos, are superb. It’s quite impressive how complex these drinks are despite their relatively low ABV of 5.9%.
The new Bacardi Piña Colada is available in four-packs of 355-milliliter cans for a suggested retail price of $11.99, via Drizly, Minibar and in liquor stores and select grocery stores nationwide. The new Mojito variety pack is available for purchase in select markets in packs of six 355-milliliter cans for a suggested retail price of $16.99.
On The Rocks Unveils New Flavor
In March, popular bottled ready-to-drink cocktail brand On The Rocks debuted a new flavor, Classic Daiquiri. On The Rocks is owned by spirits goliath Beam Suntory and uses that to its advantage by blending its cocktails with Beam Suntory-owned spirit brands.
We took this as an excuse to dig into not only the daiquiri but some of the other flavors, as well. We’ll start with the new release and then move on to the old.
Classic Daiquiri: Made with Cruzan Rum. This is really tasty — as long as you like a slightly stiffer drink. At 20% ABV, this is pretty heavy for a standard RTD but actually on the lighter side for the On The Rocks range. This tastes slightly stronger than the typical daiquiri, which tends to be a fruitier drink. With that said, this is still sweet, with lots of coconut on the palate. You can definitely taste the Cruzan, and its prominence is welcome, balancing out the sweetness. It finishes dry, leaving your mouth watering for its next sip. Of the five On The Rocks flavors I tasted, this is in the running for my favorite. It made me want to lay out on a beach and is a perfect summer sipper.
The Margarita: Made with Hornitos Tequila. If you’re a fan of sweeter margaritas, this one isn’t for you. At first sip, there’s a great blend sweetness and tartness, but those flavors lapse into an herbal bitterness that lingers for a bit on the tongue and is a bit unpleasant. Once the bitterness fades, you’re left with a similar dry finish to that of the Daiquiri. Also like the daiquiri, this clocks in at 20% ABV.
The Old Fashioned: Made with Knob Creek Bourbon. As far as RTD Old Fashioneds go, this is quite good. At 70 proof, it’s very boozy, and I love that about it. High-ABV RTDs exist, but they’re pretty tough to find at a nationally distributed level, which means this product fills a hole in the market. The palate is sweet. Maraschino cherries and candied orange on the front end are soon joined by toffee and caramel. The Oaky Knob Creek comes through on the back end.
The Manhattan: Made with Basil Hayden Dark Rye Whiskey. I’m not sure about the availability of this one, as it was a limited release back in December. That’s a shame, because it’s damn good. This is up there with the daiquiri for my favorite flavor. Chocolate, caramel and sweet vermouth come through on the front end, followed by welcome rye spiciness and cherry. At 32.5% ABV, it’s perfectly boozy.
The Mai Tai: Made with Cruzan Rum. The palate offers mostly pineapple with some citrus up front. Soon, maple syrup notes set in. This one is sweet all the way through. It’s a tasty drink — very sweet, but that sweetness is balanced out pretty nicely by the rum (The Mai Tai weighs in at 20% ABV). The syrup notes are disorientingly heavy enough to catch you off guard, but after a bit of sipping, the drink grows on you.
Ranking these from best to worst, I’ll go: Manhattan, Daiquiri, Old Fashioned, Mai Tai, Margarita. Overall, this is a great line of drinks, and I love the high-ABV angle. The Daiquiri is a wonderful addition to the range, which also includes three flavors I haven’t tasted: The Cosmopolitan, The Aviation and The Jalapeno Pineapple Margarita.
On The Rocks Premium Cocktails is available nationwide. Find the cocktails at ReserveBar.
In other RTD news…
- Canned Cocktail Craze Extends to Pro Sports as MLB Season Kicks Off
- Canned Cocktails Continue Ascent as Spirited Hive Becomes Latest Brand to Partner With Pro Sports Team
- Drag Superstar RuPaul, World of Wonder Launch ‘House Of Love’ Line of Canned Cocktails and Mocktails
Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ Ciroc Vodka Brand Launches 1st Canned Cocktails
At the beginning of April, Ciroc Vodka launched Ciroc Vodka Spritz, the brand’s first venture into the RTD space. Ciroc Vodka Spritz comes in four flavors: Watermelon Kiwi, Sunset Citrus, Pineapple Passion and Colada. Each flavor contains 7% ABV. Ciroc came to play with gorgeously aesthetically pleasing can designs. The matt hombre color colors are great, and the cans perfectly represent the drinks they carry — particularly the Sunset Citrus. Let’s see whether the contents live up to the cans that house them.
Sunset Citrus: This is pretty good. It tastes similar to an orange soda but with a healthy dose of vodka. This is solid, but not incredibly memorable.
Pineapple Passion: There’s a lot of pineapple in this one (duh) with a touch of juicy citrus. This is sweet, very tropical and delivers an on-the-beach vibe. This is probably my favorite of the bunch.
Watermelon Kiwi: This is interesting and not at all what I expected. Watermelon drinks tend to be very sweet, and this isn’t at all. I’m not a huge fan of it overall; I’m not opposed to doing something different, but the flavors here are rather muted. This is a crisp drink and much less sweet than the other flavors in the range, which normally would be up my alley. It didn’t really work for me well here, though.
Colada: This is pretty simple and straightforward — a good colada. Unlike Watermelon Kiwi, it’s exactly what you would expect — very sweet. This is called a Colada, not a Piña Colada, but the tasting notes provided by the brand listed “juicy pineapple,” so I was hoping for some tropical pineapple to balance out the coconutty sweetness. I didn’t get that but enjoyed the drink nonetheless.
Overall, Ciroc Vodka Spritz gets an A+ for presentation but a C+ for content. These are pretty good RTDs but certainly not as memorable or interesting as other brands on the market.
Find four-packs of Ciroc Vodka Spritz nationwide for a suggested retail price of $16.99.
At the end of March, when Ciroc Vodka Spritz was announced, Ciroc said the rollout would be multipronged with “culturally relevant talent partners, musicians, events and more.” Keep your eyes peeled for more on that.
Topo Chico Hard Selzer Expands Into Margarita Territory, Launches Cinco de Mayo Promotion
Popular Coca Cola-owned sparkling mineral water brand Topo Chico entered the burgeoning hard seltzer game in 2021. Earlier this month, the brand expanded on that foray with the release of Topo Chico Hard Seltzer Margarita, a variety pack featuring four flavors: Signature Margarita, Tropical Pineapple, Strawberry Hibiscus and Prickly Pear.
At only 100 calories each and 4.5% ABV, these follow the standard seltzer format: They’re light and refreshing. They pack good flavor, unlike some seltzer brands that taste like seltzer water with just a hint of flavoring.
These are good seltzers. The Strawberry Hibiscus and Tropical Pineapple are the winners of the pack. Both have great balances of sweetness and tartness and are refreshing. The citrus and tropical flavors mingle well in the Strawberry Hibiscus. Many pineapple-flavored drinks go overboard with the sweetness, but not Topo Chico’s Tropical Pineapple. In fact, it’s probably farther toward the tart side of the scale than sweet. This is a well-balanced drink.
Signature Margarita is pretty good, although not quite as memorable as the other two flavors. It’s light and refreshing and has great margarita flavor, which pairs really nicely with the fizz. Prickly Pear isn’t awful but is my least favorite of the group. It’s very tart without a ton else going on.
Overall, this is an enjoyable variety pack. I do wish the hybrid-seltzer (seltzer mixed with another sort of drink, e.g., seltzer margarita) category would experiment with different colors. Color isn’t important for a seltzer, but it is for a margarita. It would be fun to pour these over ice with some salt on the rim like a real margarita, but when the appearance is just clear seltzer water, you lose the illusion that you’re drinking a margarita. I felt the same about Vizzy Mimosa’s hybrid seltzer-mimosa, which I wrote about in Ready To Drink Volume 1.
Find Topo Chico Hard Seltzer Margarita at retailers across the country, including Walmart, which sells 12-packs for $15.98.
On April 27, Topo Chico announced a promotional campaign centered around the margarita hard seltzers, The Topo Chico de Mayo Swap Shop. Topo Chico is offering anyone the chance to trade in any “cheap part tchotchkes” related to Cinco de Mayo in exchange for a free pack of Topo Chico Margarita Hard Seltzer. The brand gave the following examples of such tchotchkes: “mini Party Store Sombreros, plastic maracas, taco-shaped hats and anything that says ‘Cinco de Drinko.'” The promotion is open now until May 8. To enter, simply head to www.topochicodemayo.com or submit a photo of the item in question plus the word CINCO to number 73255 to earn a free pack of Topo Chico Margarita Hard Seltzer.
If you’re located in New York City, you also can visit the pop-up Swap Shop from 3-9 p.m. ET on May 4 and 5 in the East Village at 1st Ave & E. 7th St. to swap in your party gear for a free pack of Topo Chico Margarita Hard Seltzer in-person.
Tiny Canned Cocktail Brand Launches Variety Pack
Tip Top Proper Cocktails, an Atlanta-based brand of miniature canned cocktails that pack a punch, earlier this month announced its new Proper Party Variety Pack, an 18-pack containing three each of six 100-milliliter cans: Bee’s Knees, Daiquiri, Manhattan, Margarita, Negroni and Old Fashioned.
These cocktails may be tiny in stature (seriously, my big hands had some trouble fitting my fingers under the tabs to pop them open), but they make up for it with powerful ABV levels. True to their name, these are proper cocktails, meant to be on par with ones you’d buy at a bar or make at home — both in terms of quality and strength. Let’s dive in.
Old Fashioned: This is a very good canned Old Fashioned, without much sweetness at all. At 37% ABV, it’s the strongest of the range. Cocoa, cherry, vanilla and toffee notes are present at the front end, followed by caramel, citrus and bitters. There’s a bit of burn on the throat but not too much.
Manhattan: At 31% ABV, really has almost no sweetness at all, which is how a Manhattan should be. Rye whiskey spiciness comes through nicely off the bat, but the middle of the palate takes a slight turn for the worse, as the bitters overpower the other flavors a bit. Sweet vermouth and some vanilla notes make their way through as well, but the bitters are the main players on the palate. This is a good Manhattan, but the flavors could be slightly better balanced.
Margarita: This one doesn’t work quite as well, for me. The small-but-boozy (26% ABV here) format works well for a lot of cocktails, but I don’t think the marg is one of them. For a margarita, I want a larger quantity and not quite as much bite; it’s more of a session drink. With that said, I did still enjoy this one. The lime is met by lots of herbal flavor, and the result is a pretty tasty drink — it just wouldn’t be my preferred margarita.
Daiquiri: The nose on this one is a little funky, but it all comes together on the palate. The tartness from the lime mingles very well with the sweetness of the cane sugar and coconutty rum. This is a very well-balanced cocktail with lots of citrus and tropical flavors, and a lovely dry finish. The Daiquiri has the lowest ABV of any Tip Top Proper cocktail at 24%.
Bee’s Knees: This is delicious. It starts out with a burst of flavor, with floral honey balanced out by tart lemon juice and soon joined by gin. This is the only cocktail among the range that you could argue is a hair too sweet, but it’s still pretty great. At 26% ABV, there’s plenty of booze to counter the sweetness of the honey.
Negroni: This is tasty and delivers the classic bittersweetness of a negroni. As has been a theme with this brand, the balance of flavors here is impressive. The bitters and herbal notes from the gin come through strong, mixing well with the sweet vermouth. At 26% ABV, this is well balanced.
Overall, Tip Top Proper impresses. The range reminded me of fellow Atlanta brand Post Meridiem, which I wrote about in December. Tip Top Proper cocktails very much hold true to the “Always Balanced / Never Too Sweet” promise on the can, with Bee’s Knees perhaps being a slight exception. Three of these are meant to be shaken, while the others are meant to be stirred. Shake the Daiquiri, Bee’s Knees and Margarita. Stir the Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Negroni.
Arnold Palmer Spiked Expands Repertoire With Lite Version
Arnold Palmer Spiked on April 28 announced the launch of Arnold Palmer Spiked Lite, an expansion on the 2018 debut of Arnold Palmer Spiked Half
The launch timing for Arnold Palmer Spiked Lite couldn’t be better; summer is almost upon us, and Arnold Palmer — with or without booze — is best served on a hot summer day. This release accomplishes that goal. The drink is extremely refreshing. It really does taste like an Arnold Palmer; the booze is in there, but you can’t taste it. The start features a bit more tea than lemonade, but it ends with a nice lemonade-dry finish.
At only 4.5% ABV, this is a great drink to sip on the back porch this summer or bring along on the golf course. The danger of light, low-ABV drinks is that it can be easy to tear through a lot of them in not a lot of time. Fortunately, you won’t be too much worse for the wear health-wise if you fall into that trap; Arnold Palmer Spiked Lite contains only 100 calories and 2 grams of sugar per 12-ounce can.
Find Arnold Palmer Spiked Lite beginning in May in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota.
Popular Digital Media Company Betches Launches RTD Line
Female-founded/owned digital media company Betches, whose Instagram page has accrued an impressive following of 8.4 million, is stepping into the RTD realm with the release of Faux Pas Cocktails. The brand is clearly targeting a younger audience, with references to “‘K’ texts” and social-media-photo tagging on the cans.
The line debuted with four flavors: Grapefruit & Orange Tequila Soda, Lemon & Mint Vodka Soda, Bartlett Pear Vodka Mule, and Spicy Mango Margarita.
I’ve only had the opportunity to taste the Grapefruit & Orange, so that’s all I can touch on. This is basically a seltzer but more flavorful and sweeter than the average one. The grapefruit and orange come through nicely, joined by some vanilla sweetness. This tastes light and refreshing despite its 8% ABV mark, which is fairly high for this sort of drink. This is better upon start than finish, as an odd bit of sweetness lingers. This wasn’t the best RTD I’ve ever had, but it’s not bad by any means. It’s good enough that I’d be interested in trying the other flavors in the range.
Find Faux Pas in independent stores and select chains in California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Colorado, Ohio, Washington, Georgia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania and Tennessee (Nashville only). Four-packs of 250-milliliter cans sell for a suggested retail price of $12.99. Find Faux Pas on Drizly.
Disclosure: Some or all of the drinks featured in Ready To Drink were provided for review by the brands that make them. This in no way affects our reviews of these products or any recommendations we make, nor was any commission earned from the reviews in this article.
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