Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

These are the best canned cocktails to enjoy this summer

Make it a ready-to-drink summer

Tip top cocktails
Tip Top Cocktails

When summer rolls around, sometimes we love a fresh, flavorful cocktail as we wind down the day. But often, we just don’t have the time to stop at the store and grab fresh herbs, freshly squeezed juice, and other ingredients before making a second stop at the liquor store to grab a few bottles of booze. That’s where ready-to-drink cocktails (or RTDs) come in.

What’s a ready-to-drink cocktail?

Goskova Tatiana / Shutterstock

In the simplest terms, a ready-to-drink cocktail is exactly as it seems. RTDs are single-serve, pre-packaged, pre-mixed cocktails. You crack open a bottle or a can and everything is already in there. If you’re getting a legit ready-to-drink cocktail, it will have a base of vodka, whiskey, or whatever spirit is in the cocktail and the other ingredients in your favorite drinks. Whatever cocktail you enjoy, there’s like a ready-to-drink cocktail version waiting for you to discover. Old Fashioneds, Mojitos, Margaritas, Moscow Mules, there’s an RTD version of it made by someone.

Just be aware that not all RTDS are the same. Some are literally a cocktail in a can with the same ABV (and ingredients) as your favorite cocktail. These are around 20-30% ABV. Others are a lower-ABV, much more sessionable version of the drink. Think of these more like your favorite double IPA. They clock in at around 7-10% ABV (and beyond).

The freshest ready-to-drink cocktails to enjoy this summer


Now that you learned a little bit about ready-to-drink cocktails, it’s time to find your new summer go-to’s. Fear not; we aren’t going to make you find them on your own. We did the work for you. We picked some of the best, freshest RTDs to enjoy this summer. To keep it fair, we gave you a mix of classic high-ABV choices and low-ABV crushers. Keep scrolling to see them all.

Sagamore Spirit Honey Paloma

Sagamore Spirit Honey Paloma
Sagamore Spirit

At 9% ABV, this is not a canned cocktail that will knock you down with a high amount of alcohol. What it lacks in alcohol content, it makes up for in flavor. That is thanks to the addition of Sagamore Spirit Rye Whiskey as well as lime juice, red grapefruit juice, agave, and natural honey flavor. The result is a mixture of tart citrus, sweet honey, and peppery rye whiskey.

Tip Top Negroni

Tip Top Negroni
Tip Top

If you want a legit, classic cocktail in a can, turn to the folks at Tip Top. Perfect for summer, its Tip Top Negroni is made with dry gin, vermouth, and red bitters and clocks in at a potent 28% ABV. The result is an award-winning bittersweet summery cocktail loaded with flavors like orange peels, grapefruit zest, and piney juniper. It’s a mix of sweetness and a gentle, bitter finish.

Plain Spoke Mojito

Plain Spoke Mojito
Plain Spoke

This 10% summer refresher is a low-ABV version of the classic rum-based cocktail. It features a mix of Caribbean rums, 100% lime juice, mint, and pure cane sugar. The result is a sweet, fresh cocktail featuring a nice minty kick. If you enjoy mojitos, this will be your new summer go-to.

Waterbird Ranch Water

Waterbird Ranch Water

For those unaware, Ranch Water is a refreshing drink made up of tequila, sparkling mineral water, and lime juice. It’s a pretty simple cocktail to make. But, if you don’t have the time to make it and you want something a little lower in ABV, try this sessionable 5% canned cocktail. Made with blanco tequila and fresh lime juice, it’s fresh, flavorful, and hits the spot on a hot summer day.

Golden Rule Margarita Original

Golden Rule Margarita Original
Golden Rule

Who doesn’t love a potent, refreshing Margarita on a hot summer day? While we’re all for lower-ABV ready-to-drink cocktail alternatives, we prefer the Margarita to be boozy. Golden Rule’s version is 27% ABV, making it close to what you’d get at your favorite Mexican restaurant in terms of potency. Made with tequila, triple sec, and real lime juice, it’s pleasantly boozy, tart, and memorable.

Bottom line

Golden Rule
Golden Rule

The ready-to-drink cocktail marketplace has exploded in the last few years. There are so many brands making different cocktails at varying alcohol content levels. There is something for every drinker. The key is knowing where to look. If you want a higher-ABV cocktail, you can turn to one of the brands that make drinks that are created to taste like those mixed up at your favorite cocktail bar. If you’re looking for a specific cocktail, there’s a good chance it’s available as long as it’s a classic cocktail (or a take on a classic cocktail). If you’ve never tried a ready-to-drink cocktail, why not branch out this summer and mix in a few in your summer cooler with your usual beers?

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
Make your Fourth of July drinks a snap by batching up cocktails
Get ready for the party by preparing your cocktails ahead of time
Hands toasting with cocktails

If you're planning to celebrate Fourth of July this week and you haven't stocked up yet, you still have one more day to lay in some essentials. And whether you're hosting friends and family at your place and want to put on a spread for them, or you're heading out to someone else's party and you want to bring along a contribution, there are plenty of drinks options which are unfussy to make but delicious to drink.

If you're hosting more than a small handful of people and your guests like to drink, then you'll want to look into batch cocktails. The idea is that, rather than mixing each drink individually to order, you make up a large quantity of a single cocktail beforehand then have it ready for whenever your guests want it.

Read more
How to make a mudslide: your new dessert cocktail go-to
Who doesn't love a dessert cocktail?

In the world of mixed drinks, the dessert cocktail doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Maybe it’s because it’s boozy, sweet, and sometimes borderline indulgent. It’s not the kind of drink you’ll just whip up on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. But it is a great drink genre for a special occasion or after a heavy meal.

We’re talking about drinks like the Grasshopper, White Russian, Espresso Martini, and the Mudslide. And while we could go into length explaining the intricacies of every one of the cocktails we just mentioned, today we’re most concerned with the Mudslide.
What is a Mudslide?

Read more
These are the absolute best sides for steak
Because sometimes, your steak needs a buddy
Grilled steak with glass of red wine

On steak night, you may just have one thing on your mind - that beautifully marbled, perfectly thick, meaty, juicy, succulent steak that you can't wait to enjoy. We get it. The thought makes our eyes glaze over, and our mouths water with lusty hunger, too. As miraculous as a great steak is, though, generally, it needs a little something to go with it. And while a glass of wine and a smile are sometimes all we need for a steak pairing, it is nice to have something else on the plate.

These are our five favorite sides for steak when you're craving a little something extra.
Grilled vegetables

Read more