Life & Style

This cocktail party comes in a can

RTD cocktails

RTD cocktails | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

There are party hosts, and then there are smart party hosts. The latter have now figured out how to ease the hassles of running a DIY home cocktail bar.

“Chuck those spirits, mixers, garnishes, glassware and ice buckets,” says Nitesh Prakash, founder of O’be Cocktails, which makes Bangalore-based RTD (Ready-to-Drink) cocktails. Nitesh explains how these right-off-the-shelf cocktails replace the processes of chopping, muddling, shaking and blending with just a twist of a cap. Prakash, who launched his brand in July 2019, offers customers three classics — Cosmopolitans, LIITs and mojitos — in 330 ml bottles.

RTD cocktails

RTD cocktails | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Like O’be, most RTD cocktail brands in India today are sticking to the classics. This is because, “The classics are classics for a reason. They have been tried and tested over the years, and have a broad appeal that customers from all walks of life can relate to,” says Ajay Shetty, founder of Bengaluru-based Salud Beverages. Salud Beverages made a mark on the world stage this year, with all three of its RTD entries winning at the prestigious London Spirits Competition: Salud G&T 2.0 Lavender won gold, while Salud G&T 2.0 Cucumber and Salud Sonic (both cocktails) walked away with silvers.

RTD cocktails

RTD cocktails | Photo Credit: special arrangement

In this new wave of RTD cocktails, which is washing across countries, companies are distilling their alcohol and then blending in natural mixers or flavourings, such as oranges, lemons, apples, coffee and more. The results, fortunately, are a world away from the sugary pre-mixed cocktail packs that were sold in liquor stores a few years ago.

Premium gin Bombay Sapphire, for instance, released its first line of canned gin and tonic in the UK in March 2020, while Tequila Cazadores entered the market with a pre-mixed margarita four-pack, spicy margarita and paloma. Luxury wine label Decoy also announced wine-based seltzers, while coffee-liqueur brand Tia Maria, introduced an RTD iced coffee frappe. These are all priced between $13 and $15. 

According to an online market survey by Grand View Research based out of Mumbai, the global ready-to-drink cocktails’ market size was valued at $782.8 million in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4% from 2022 to 2030. The study goes on to state that the growing demand for flavoured drinks (another category of cocktails) due to rising health concerns is expected to drive the market over the forecast period.

Most RTD cocktails contain about 9-12% alcohol same as the alcohol content in cocktails served at bars. In India, with more cocktails now available in bottles and cans, this category offers innovative options at competitive prices. Stating that cocktails are a “happy celebratory drink,” Nitesh says the inconsistency in taste at bars led him to explore these drinks as a business opportunity. “Targeted at house parties, we have decided to keep the price 30% less than the cost of cocktails at bars.” O’be Cocktails are made in South Goa with a focus on being premium and sustainable ( the brand claims zero plastic use throughout its supply chain). The brand is available in Bengaluru, Goa, and Hyderabad.

Founders of InACan like to describe their product as ‘a bar experience without any of the hassle’. The InACan journey started with Goa-based Sameer Suresh Mirajkar and Viraj Sawant scouring the country for the right team. Once they met bartending maestro, Varun Sudhakar, the three journeyed nine months, over 15,000 kilometres by road, covering three states to equip themselves. “Everything that went into the InACan process was tailored to create these cocktails,” says Sameer. “This includes the development of a semi-automatic can seamer machine to seal the lid to the can body, five cocktail variations and picture-perfect packaging.”

InACan offers a range of low-calorie cocktails: the G&T, LIIT, whiskey Collins, rum latte and Vodka mule (named after the popular cocktail Moscow mule). “We decided to add a coffee-flavoured cocktail keeping in mind the love people have for anything that comes with coffee flavour,” Sameer Suresh. Whiskey Collins, InACan’s take on the classic Collins, is fragrant with the flavours of apple and cinnamon.” Their Gin & Tonic is spiked with the freshness of rosemary. 

The makers are cautious about sugar, moving away from the syrupy sweetness of earlier ready to drink cocktails. Nitesh says, “As mentioned earlier, inconsistency in taste and overpowering mixers made me think of a drink that doesn’t let you mistake your cocktail for a sweet juice. When compared to average cocktails, ours have way less sugar. ” 

RTD cocktails

RTD cocktails | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Setting the standard

Founder of Salud Beverages Ajay Shetty says the London Spirits Competition stands out from other competitions because it awards spirits for their overall appeal to the drinking audience. “Where other competitions focused solely on technical competence and distilling prowess, the London Spirits Competitions goes further to evaluate a spirit for its all-around excellence – in the way it tastes, looks and the value it provides.”

So far, the response has been enthusiastic. “By the end of our first financial year, we were selling in two markets namely Karnataka and Goa, while in the process of being available in four more states and two new international markets. We have achieved an estimated sales of close to 28,000 cases in just two states in less than nine months,” said Ajay Shetty, founder-director of Salud.

RTD cocktails

RTD cocktails | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Does the entrance of these drinks mean no one will ask for cocktails at a bar? Quite the opposite, believes Magandeep Singh, sommelier and founder of The Wine & Beverage Solutions People, a wine and beverage solutions company. He says, “RTDs will make people curious about the same drink being made by a bartender, and want to try it at a bar. RTDs can never be the Real McCoy; Personally, it is only a makeshift solution on some days... I would say it can act a gateway to cocktails at home.”


Our code of editorial values

  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.

Printable version | May 18, 2022 4:09:31 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/this-cocktail-party-comes-in-a-can/article65317162.ece