There was a time when pre-mixed cocktails had a less-than-salubrious image – we’re talking overly sugary concoctions that didn’t hold a candle to properly made drinks. But things have moved along, with some of the finest bartenders and mixologists creating memorable drinks to enjoy in the comfort of your own home (or even on the go).
There is a host of new faces producing artisanal cocktails that take all the fuss out of serving a well-crafted drink – and let’s face it, not many of us have the time or space to fill our homes with a collection of spirits and mixers for every occasion, let alone a full complement of bar equipment.
This new breed of pre-made cocktails (known as RTDs in the industry, which stands for ‘ready to drink’) caters for both single serves and larger pours. You’ll find drinks that add convenience to all manner of occasions, from a bottle or can made for a nightcap to drinks that suit a celebration minus hours of tiresome prep. These quality canned cocktails, pre-mixed G&Ts and hard seltzers also cater very well to those on the go.
A quick scan at this year’s IWSC winners shows a vast array of ingredients and styles. Winner of the IWSC Trophy was Licor 43’s Cocktail 43 Fresco Apple Pre-Mixed Spirit, which scored 98/100pts and delivered ‘stunning’ aromas of Danish pastry, cinnamon, coconut and butterscotch, along with a refreshingly spicy vanilla finish. Other medal winners included the WAT Iced Lemon Tea Cocktail from Taiwan, a Gold winner that impressed the IWSC judges with its punchy notes of red cherry, citrus rind and palate of mango, peach and nectarine.
The awards delivered much more than fruit-based drinks, however. One highlight was the Smoked Walnut Old Fashioned from Cocktail Concierge’s Drinksmith Collection – another Gold winner and packed with aromas of gingerbread, peppercorn, rye bread and vanilla – definitely one for whisky lovers to try.
All entries were judged blind by a panel of experts, including Aidy Smith of The Three Drinkers, 58 Gin MD Carmen O’Neal and drink company Atom Brands’ Rosie Milsom.
The world of pre-mixed cocktails has come an awful long way in a short space of time. We’re proud to present our pick of the 2021 IWSC award-winners.
12 of the best pre-mixed cocktails 2021
- Licor 43 Cocktail 43 Fresco Apple Pre-Mixed Spirit
- Tesco Gin And Tonic Pre-Mixed Spirit
- Beefeater Beefeater Pink Strawberry Gin & Tonic
- “SVS La Martiniquaise” Punch Coco Au Rhum
- Cocktail Concierge Drinksmith Collection – Smoked Walnut Old Fashioned
- De Kuyper Royal Distillers Surfers Mint & Lime
- WAT Lychee Tieguanyin Tea Cocktail
- Cutwater Spirits Mild Bloody Mary Pre-Mixed Spirit
- ALDI Stores (Aust) Hammerhead Passionfruit & Ginger Hard Seltzer
- Quintessential Brands Bloom London Dry Gin And Rose Lemonade
- Bimmerle Private Distillery Rachmaninoff Vodka & Lemon
- Bramley and Gage 6 O’Clock London Dry Gin & Tonic
HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE SPIRITS?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous spirits tasting process. That means that each spirit sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC spirit judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the drinks industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
HOW DO WE SCORE THESE SPIRITS?
Only the best spirits sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, spirits have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
MORE FROM CLUB OENOLOGIQUE
Club O is an exclusive community and the go-to platform for wine and spirit lovers. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors. Based in London, our editorial team tells informative, inspirational stories from the world of wine and spirits, gastronomy and travel, as well as covering recommendations and the latest trends in drink. You can take a look at our Explained series, for instance, where we’re tackling grape varieties, regions and styles of wine and spirits. Alternatively, visit our Ask the Sommelier section, where experts answer your wine-related questions.