Katie Brown - 10/29/21
It’s an exciting time for cocktail lovers on the go. From cans and bottles to cartons and bags, there is now a plethora of premixed drinks available on the market that make it easier than ever to sip our favorite cocktails without having to go to a bar.
The options are especially endless for whiskey enthusiasts, with a sea of everything from Old Fashioneds and Manhattans to Gold Rushes and spiked lemonades hitting the market with gusto. With so many options for whiskey-based RTDs now available, the VinePair team tasted through the many offerings to separate the wheat from the chaff.
A large portion of these RTDs are Old Fashioneds and Manhattans — the former beating out the latter by a landslide, impressing our panel with natural orange essences and spirit-forward depth. With so many Old Fashioneds to choose from, our final list includes the offerings, both canned and bottled, that stood out from the pack and impressed the VinePair team most.
From boozy bottles sure to please whiskey fans, to crushable canned cocktails that can easily replace your weekend hard seltzers, these are the best whiskey-based RTDs to drink right now.
TATTERSALL OLD FASHIONED ABV: 35%
This highly aromatic Old Fashioned delights the senses with a golden honey note on the nose and a richness on the palate. Ideal for seasonal sipping, this cocktail includes flavors of festive holiday spices and a whiskey-forward finish that stays on the palate long after the last sip.
SUNDAY’S FINEST GOLD FASHIONED ABV: 40%
Saffron sets this cocktail apart from the rest, imparting a bright yellow color and vibrant aroma. Best served over ice and spritzed with the atomizer of citrus oil the cocktail comes with, this large-format-bottled Old Fashioned tastes like it was freshly mixed by a pro bartender. Expect a whiskey-forward tipple with a streak of freshness and a hint of spice.
DASHFIRE OLD FASHIONED ABV: 38%
Don’t be fooled by its size: This mini can is bursting with energizing flavors. Candied orange and aromatic bitters hit the nose, followed by a spirit-forward flavor on the palate. It is best chilled in the fridge and poured in an Old Fashioned glass expressed with orange oil.
TIP TOP PROPER COCKTAILS OLD FASHIONED ABV: 37%
A brand beloved by the VinePair team for its mini Margarita, Tip Top’s Old Fashioned stood out to our panel for its zesty fragrance. With all the body and aroma we seek in the classic cocktail, this whiskey-forward offering has a nice hint of spice to complement the strong flavors of Angostura bitters and orange.
HOCHSTADTER’S SLOW & LOW ROCK AND RYE ABV: 42%
Hochstater’s has been making its whiskey RTDs since 2008 — long before the recent trend emerged. The old-school brand impressed our panel with sweet notes of rock candy offset by the prickliness of aromatic bitters. Spirit-forward with hints of baking spices and orange expression, this is a whiskey lover’s RTD.
LIVEWIRE ALLEY CAT OLD FASHIONED ABV: 39%
Created by bartending legend Chris Patino, this Old Fashioned riff has all the classic aromas you’d expect from the classic cocktail, followed by the welcoming tastes of cherry, apple brandy, and vanilla bean. Instantly recognizable as an Old Fashioned, this variation is as inventive as it is delicious.
PARTY CAN GOLD RUSH OLD FASHIONED ABV: 15%
With the viscous texture of a Gold Rush and the orange spice of the Old Fashioned, this cocktail is tantalizing from the first whiff. Christmas-y aromas of pine, gingerbread, and baking spices are complemented by comforting chamomile and honey. Less boozy than many of its competitors, this cocktail invites a second (and third) sip.
JIM BEAM CITRUS HIGHBALL ABV: 5%
Dry yet refreshing on palate, this canned offering is balanced and effervescent, with a nice depth of flavor and texture. Aromas of lemon and honeysuckle are followed by a hint of bourbon’s oaky sweetness. And at just 5 percent ABV, this highball would be a great swap for hard seltzer or beer.
BULLY BOY DISTILLERS OLD FASHIONED ABV: 37%
Orange defines both the color and flavor of this Old Fashioned. Along with seasonal smells of Christmas tree pine needles and tastes of caramel candy, this tipple has some distinctive characteristics that set it apart while still maintaining all the classic elements that make an Old Fashioned an Old Fashioned.
GOLDEN RULE OLD FASHIONED ABV: 39.5%
Another small can with big flavor, Golden Rule’s Old Fashioned is intensely fruity on the nose, with smells of candied orange and cloves. Though the cocktail is made with bourbon, it has a peppery spice reminiscent of rye whiskey. Herbaceous and boozy, this Old Fashioned is packed with vibrant flavor and character.
HIGH WEST DISTILLERY OLD FASHIONED ABV: 43%
The quality of High West’s whiskey shines through in this cocktail. The barrel-aged, pre-batched cocktail is made with both bourbon and rye — both of which come through on the palate with sweet and prickly notes, respectively. For whiskey geeks who pride themselves on the quality of the spirits in their cocktails, this is a great choice.
JACK DANIEL’S TENNESSEE HONEY & LEMONADE ABV: 7%
Crowd-pleasing and crushable, this RTD has a balanced sweetness on the nose. It’s sweet without being cloying, with the tartness of lemonade pairing beautifully with Jack Daniel’s vanilla and brown sugar notes. The resulting beverage is not very complex, but it would be great to have on hand for a fall tailgate or picnic.
FISHERS ISLAND LEMONADE ABV: 9%
For those newer to whiskey or who prefer a sweeter profile, this boozy lemonade is a great place to start. It is made with both whiskey and vodka, with smells of rock candy, fresh lemon, and a slight hint of peppermint. Though there’s not much whiskey flavor present on the nose or palate, it’s a bright, flavorful drink that’s sure to refresh on hot, humid days.
CROWN ROYAL WASHINGTON APPLE ABV: 7%
Its bright red color may give this RTD an artificial feel, but on the palate, it tastes like fresh apple juice with just a hint of sweetness. It benefits from the texture gained from carbonation, creating an inviting mouthfeel. It’s by no means whiskey-forward, but it’s a playful drink ideal for sipping with friends at outdoor gatherings.