America is Ready for the RTD Cocktail Craze

Nov 22, 2022Beverages

As the brand-saturated hard seltzer market softens, American consumer preferences are shifting to spirit-based RTDs and canned cocktails. And maybe that’s not so surprising – after all, what’s more American than the cocktail?

You may say the obvious things like Ford trucks or baseball or apple pie. These are classics that scream red, white, and blue, true. But the cocktail, while it doesn’t seem to garner the same patriotic affections, may be the single most representative invention of American ingenuity and cultural diversity.

A Brief History of the Cocktail

It was in an unassuming New Orleans apothecary in 1838 that Antoine Peychaud invented what is considered by most to be the first cocktail: the Sazerac. A rinse of absinthe, a dash of bitters, a drizzle of simple syrup, and a splash of cognac (before rye whiskey supplanted it). A simple, four-ingredient drink that would set the stage for exploration into the world of bar-room showmanship, culture, flare, ingenuity, and expertise…this exploration was led by Jerry Thomas.


Jerry Thomas, an 1830’S born sailor, turned Forty-Niner, turned volunteer fireman, had a life interesting enough to fill shelves of books; however, it was his book, How to Mix Drinks that set American bars, and mixology in particular, at the center of American culture.

Thomas brought flare to drink-making. He was well known for his bejeweled barware and antics while on the job. He made ordering a drink an event – something that took expertise and craftsmanship, and the American public loved it.


And the American public still loves it.

Why RTD Cocktails Today?

Circa March of 2020, modern cocktails continued to offer consumers an elevated on-premise experience. And while they’re beginning to again, the impact of the pandemic brought on a new trend: the home bartender. But a lack of access to ingredients, a lack of mixology knowledge, and a general excitement and familiarity with an always-launching RTD segment sets brands up for success to deliver products to those who want the cocktail experience without going out or having to make it themselves.

As we know, spirit-based RTD options are on the rise. Hard Seltzers continue to have the largest market share, but large growth is forecasted for spirit-based RTDs. The large amount of brands entering the RTD space has called for unique innovation to stand out to consumers in the increasingly crowded category, and one of the segments where unique innovation has a great opportunity to be rewarded is within the Gen Z market.

gen z

While Gen Z under indexes in alcohol consumption, they are the most likely to drink RTDs. This generation wants to explore new cultural experiences and cocktails can offer a great insight into the culture from which they came. Each has a history and each can be delivered with a modern twist.

Let’s Chat

Want to discuss which cocktail is right for your brand to launch? Ask your Account Manager about these marketing insights or contact us here. We have the capabilities to help you find the right choice for your consumer or customer, and we can find the right ingredients to fit your processes.



Leave a Reply