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Woman holding a can cocktail

Sales are Up for Ready-to-Drink Cocktails 

Sales of spirits-based ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails surged 42.3% to $1.6 billion in 2021, outpacing even tequila and mezcal growth, which was up 30.1% to $5.2 billion, and Irish whiskey, up 16.3% to $1.3 billion. 

 

“We do think that it’s coming from beer and hard seltzer, though consumers, as they’re going out more, are also liking the convenience of spirits-based RTDs,” says LoCascio.


Still, spirits-based RTDs still represent a small portion of the overall spirits industry, and a fraction of the overall RTD industry, which also includes hard seltzers and malt beverages. According to IWSR, a drinks market analysis firm, spirits-based canned cocktails account for just 8% of market volume, while malt beverages account for 91%. Wine-based RTDs represent 1%.

 

Looking ahead, DISCUS vowed to push for states to lower excise taxes on spirits-based RTDs. In many states, taxes are substantially higher than RTDs made with wine or malt bases.

Still, spirits-based RTDs still represent a small portion of the overall spirits industry, and a fraction of the overall RTD industry, which also includes hard seltzers and malt beverages.

Woman with can cocktails on the beach


 

You can’t stop the ready-to-drink train—but you might see some changes.


Across the board, most experts predict ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails will continue to sell. The category boomed over the last two years as bars and restaurants intermittently closed and outdoor activities gained traction; plus, they offer an alternative to similarly successful canned hard seltzers.

 

“The pandemic was an accelerator for them, and they’re still going strong,” says Danny Brager, analyst for data aggregator SipSource.