Ready, Steady…Drink! - Because Brands Matter
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Ready, Steady…Drink!


As you will almost certainly be aware, the ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail market within the UK has experienced significant growth in recent years.

These cocktails are pre-mixed drinks that come in convenient, single-serving packaging and offer consumers a hassle-free way to enjoy their favourite cocktails without the need for bartending skills or ingredient preparation. They’re also a far easier way of keeping the kitchen splash and gunge free at the end of a long and hard-working week.

One of the driving factors behind the growth of at-home drinking experiences and the burgeoning RTD cocktail market is the changing consumer behaviour and preferences. With busy lifestyles and a desire for instant gratification, consumers are increasingly opting for ready-to-consume products.

RTDs provide a quick and easy solution for those looking to enjoy a high-quality cocktail without the time and effort required for traditional cocktail-making. If the trend was growing pre-pandemic, Covid certainly turbo-charged it.

RTD cocktails cater to wildly different tastes and preferences. From classic cocktails like Mojitos and Margaritas to innovative flavours and combinations, there is a drink for every occasion and palate. The availability of premium ingredients and the emphasis on high-quality craftsmanship have also contributed to the popularity of the category.

As a result, both established spirits brands and new players have entered the market, introducing their own range of RTD cocktails to capitalise on the growing demand.

According to published data, total volume sales of spirits-based RTD cocktails increased 226 percent from 2016 to 2021, making the category one of the fastest-growing segments across beverage alcohol. In 2021, nearly 50 percent of adults over 22 years old reported drinking RTD cocktails, up from 40 percent in 2018.

Well-known RTD cocktail brands that have been successful include:

Bacardi: Bacardi offers a range of RTD cocktails, including Bacardi Rum Cocktails, Bacardi Mojito, and Bacardi Piña Colada. They have a strong presence in the market and are known for their premium quality and wide variety.

Smirnoff: Smirnoff, a renowned vodka brand, has a line of RTD cocktails such as Smirnoff Ice and Smirnoff Seltzer. These easy sippers have gained popularity for their refreshing taste and undoubted convenience.

Jack Daniel’s: The world’s best known whiskey brand has been a forerunner within the RTD market. They offer pre-mixed canned cocktails like Jack & Cola and Jack & Ginger, which have found success among whiskey enthusiasts.

Jameson: Only launched in the Spring of 2022, Jameson’s and lime has proven to be a great success in several overseas markets. whisk(e)y is notoriously slow to adapt to consumer trends. Could this be the Holy Grail in attracting younger drinkers?

Matugga: Scottish premium rum brand Matugga has experienced huge interest in its RTD Rum punches that are available in pop up stores and online. Whilst making a decent rum punch was a complex and hit and miss undertaking – now it is as easy as picking up a pair of scissors and pouring over ice.

On-premise operators have also adopted RTD cocktails into places where staffing and stocking a full bar might be cost prohibitive. Stadiums, Theatres, Hotels, Cinemas and Planes being good examples.

Some operators have gone as far as launching their own RTD options as revenue drivers and brand builders amidst pandemic closures and have continued to find value in extending their restaurants’ offerings through bottled or canned cocktails. Why spend ten minutes making a Pornstar Martini when you can tug a ring pull and add a wedge of caramelised pineapple?

Amidst today’s staffing shortages and budgetary constraints, even more restaurants and bars are embracing the advantages RTD cocktails can offer.

Undoubtedly the UK’s RTD cocktail market is likely to see further innovation and growth in the coming years. It will be interesting to see how long this trend continues and what the large brands do to counteract it impacting on mainstream bottle sales.