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Spirits-Based Cocktails Projected At Nearly 20 Million Cases In The U.S. This Year

November 15, 2021

While some drinks categories were clearly disrupted by the pandemic, others have only picked up speed over the past two years. One of the biggest winners has no doubt been spirits-based RTDs. After rising by 21.5% in 2019, the leading pre-packaged cocktails jumped nearly 80% in 2020 and approached 16 million cases, according to Impact Databank. With consumers continuing to gravitate to the category, Impact Databank estimates that the pre-packaged cocktail market will near 20 million cases this year on an increase of approximately 4 million cases.

“Prepared cocktails are on fire. They are growing nearly 10 times faster than the rest of the spirits category,” said Scott Moore, senior vice president, national accounts, off-premise at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. “Ready-to-serve and ready-to-drink, both have items specifically performing well.” The category is also a premiumization driver for the drinks industry. The average price-per-case for spirits-based cocktails is over $80, according to Impact Databank, more than double the average malt-based RTD brand, which comes in closer to $35.

“Vodka-based seltzers such as High Noon and full-strength products such as On The Rocks are leading consumer demand. New entries within the markets such as Bacardi cocktails as well as The Long Drink are exploding as new distribution is secured,” added Moore.

E.&J. Gallo’s High Noon has become a phenomenon within the category, sitting just below 3 million cases for 2020 and posting 278% growth in control states this year through September. Other key brands showing triple-digit growth in control states this year include Monaco (Atomic Brands), Cutwater (Anheuser-Busch InBev) and Canteen, in which Anheuser-Busch invested earlier this year, as part of a deal to distribute the brand through its Beyond Beer unit.

Proximo Spirits’ 1800 Ultimate Margarita is another leading player that’s up by double-digits in control states so far this year, and appears on track to top 1 million cases by year-end. 1800 is joined by Proximo stablemates Jose Cuervo Authentic Margaritas and Jose Cuervo Golden Margarita among the brand leaders.

Amid all the growth, competition is heating up in the category, with Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Brown-Forman, Beam Suntory, Bacardi and others aggressively adding spirits-based cocktails to their key brands. According to Nicola Heckles, vice president for Crown Royal at Diageo North America, “Ready-to-drink options are wildly popular and gaining momentum among consumers for the convenience they bring.”

“We’re offering our consumers even more options within the growing ready-to-drink category, especially as they continue to meet with friends on-the-go, as well as outdoors, and are looking to bring their favorite cocktails along with them,” added Reshma Dhati, brand director of marketing for Malibu at Pernod Ricard USA.—Shane English


Pre-Packaged Cocktails*—Top Eight Brands in the U.S.
Rank Brand Company Total 2020
Case Volume1
2021 YTD
Percent Change
in Control States2
1 High Noon Sun Sips E.&J. Distillers 2,950 278%
2 Jose Cuervo
Authentic Margarita
Proximo Spirits 2,801 -3%
3 Monaco Atomic Brands 1,522 745%
4 1800 Ultimate Margarita Proximo Spirits 973 17%
5 Cutwater Cutwater Spirits
(AB InBev)
735 141%
6 Bacardi Cocktails3 Bacardi USA 583 58%
7 Jose Cuervo
Golden Margarita
Proximo Spirits 537 -14%
8 Canteen Canteen Spirits 517 346%
Total Top Eight 10,618 61%
*Low proof, ready-to-drink spirits.
1 Thousands of 9-liter cases.
2 Year-to-date through September.
3 Includes ready-to-drink and ready-to-serve.

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