At a time when convenience is paramount, it’s unsurprising that ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages are making waves. Thankfully, the trend of premium canned products incorporating high-grade ingredients and sophisticated recipes ensures drinkers no longer have to choose between expediency and quality.
To help guide loyal fans and introduce skeptics to a new beverage category, VinePair asked bartenders around the country which RTD drinks are on their radar. From refreshing wine spritzers and hard seltzers, to classic tipples in mini cans, keep reading for the perfectly packaged sips you should try.
The Best RTD Beverages Recommended by Bartenders
- Tip Top Proper Cocktails Manhattan
- St. Agrestis Spritz
- Reyes y Cobardes Paloma
- Bacardi Canned Cocktails
- Bravazzi Clementina
- Everything by Empirical Spirits
- Ramona Wine Spritzes
- Kikusui Funaguchi Nama Genshu Sake
- Truly Lemonade Seltzers
- Old Westminster Skin Contact Piquette
- Everything by Candid
Keep reading for details about all the recommended beverages!
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“Tip Top Proper Cocktails: These guys are doing it right! The flavors are spot on. The only way you are sure it’s a canned cocktail is if you pour it yourself. My favorite of theirs is the Manhattan.” —Allen Parker, Bartender, Good Word Brewing, Duluth, Ga.
“The St. Agrestis Spritz canned cocktail. Nice Spritz style with darker baking spice flavors. It’s complex but still crushable.” —Pete Stanton, Head Bartender, Ai Fiori at The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue, NYC
“Starting to see a lot of these pile up on shelves, but I haven’t found one I really love yet. Generally passing on most so far. The branding is often really aggressive ‘lifestyle’-wise, or trying to paint bartenders as rock stars — which they’re not. No matter what the cans or twisty bottles say, they usually don’t taste great. One can that does taste good is the Paloma by Reyes y Cobardes, coming from Mexico.” —Jeremy Allen, Beverage Director, Little Dom’s and MiniBar Hollywood, Los Angeles
“For those who want an upgrade from the ever-popular spiked seltzers, I would recommend the Bacardi canned cocktails — nothing fancy, but they’re really delicious and refreshing rum cocktails, ready to-go for summer activities.” —Damian Langarica, Head Bartender, a.bar, Philadelphia
“Bravazzi Clementine is an Italian hard seltzer that stands out amongst a flooded market, perfectly dry, sweet, and citrusy. [Also,] Empirical Spirits is a self-proclaimed flavor company who refuses to fit into a box. Their distilled flavored spirits and canned cocktails focus on being delicious and unique. Classifications be damned!” —Lee Mayfield, Bartender, Brick Store Pub, Decatur, Ga.
“Ramona (canned wine spritzer) is light, refreshing, and perfect for picnics.” —Nick Merrifield, Head Bartender, Portale, NYC
“While I confess to drinking seltzers this summer like everyone else, the best thing in a can is Kikusui Funaguchi Nama Genshu Sake. It’s difficult to produce and ship an unpasteurized sake to our homes, but it’s well worth it. The nose is immediately fresh green apple and pineapple. That, along with its natural off-dry character, hides within a nearly 20 percent ABV wallop!” —Chris Keller, Bartender, Osaka Ramen, Denver
“Maybe my very favorite bottled beverage of all time is Topo Chico. Between the pleasantly overwhelming, over-the-top carbonation and the refreshing minerality, I’m pretty confident it can cure most ills. I recently tried the Truly Lemonade Seltzer, and it’s delicious. The black cherry and lemon especially remind me of refreshing and cooling Italian ices, with a nice little kick.” —Shannon Grant, Bartender, Lost Lake, Chicago
“Old Westminster Skin Contact Piquette: This refreshing natural wine is shockingly good and bridges tastes between crisp Champagne, German gose beer, and fruit-stripe-flavored kombucha.” —Noah Bush, Mixologist and Co-owner, Hodge’s Bend, Tulsa, Okla.
“Anything from Candid! High-quality ingredients, fun flavors, cool packaging. The elderflower, cucumber, mint [flavor] is especially good.” —Justin Koch, Bartender/Manager, Curio, Denver Central Market, Denver