Ready-to-Drink Cocktails

Ready to Drink CocktailsWhether or not bartenders mix drinks with flair, the end result has to be a great cocktail served right. Flair or not, ready-to-drink cocktails are gaining favor.

Bartenders may choose to pre-mix extravagant drinks (see Best Cocktails for Mother’s Day for a few complicated recipes that can easily be pre-mixed) or simply mix the standards for greater efficiency, especially for back-of-the-house bars.

Bartending Efficiency

Ready-to-drink cocktails increase speed of service and eliminate errors. According to Punch.com’sThey Go Where You Go: DIY Bottled Cocktails,” bottled cocktails date back to at least 1827 with the Oxford Night Caps containing plenty of recipes meant to be pre-mixed, stored, and consumed later. How to Mix Drinks by Jerry Thomas showed up in 1862 (still available on Amazon.com) and also includes a number of pre-mixed drinks among its recipes.

“Always ready – always right” became the tagline of Heublien’s, the first line of commercially available bottled cocktails that emerged about the same time Jerry Thomas published his book (Bartender.com).

Bottled cocktails enhance consistency for on-premise establishments that may be battling bartender turnover and inexperience. The “pour and garnish” approach eliminates guess work and the dreaded overpour that negatively affects profit margins.

Off-Premise Cocktail Growth

Consumers may not want a pre-mixed cocktail served to them in a bar, but there’s a real attraction to them for at-home use. BeverageMedia.com attributes the growth to the decline in on-premise sales that began in 2008 with the Great Recession. More recently, Skinnygirl® Cocktails, originally launched with a low-calorie Margarita, is enjoying a surge in sales and now offers vodkas and wines.

Additionally, ready-to-serve (RTS) bottled cocktails are gaining ground on the original ready-to-drink (RTD) counterparts. The difference between them is that RTDs are single-serve and typically malt-based concoctions.

The RTS versions are becoming party-ready favorites among younger drinkers who may have developed a taste for more complicated drinks without having to mix them. Party hosts won’t spend break their budgets buying all the ingredients and won’t spend their evenings mixing drinks and hoping to get it right.

In Beverage Network’sReady to Mix, Ready to Drink,” Michael Ward, SVP of innovation at Diageo (Britain’s multinational alcoholic beverage company and parent company of Smirnoff, Johnny Walker, and Bailey’s to name a few) said, “The ready-to-drink cocktail really does terrifically capitalize on two key trends: premiumization and convenience.”

Ready-to-drink cocktails seem to have come a long way, but let’s not forget that they’ve been around for nearly 200 years. They certainly have a place in both the on-premise and off-premise markets.