Although we’ve reviewed tequila and other straight spirits for many years, this is the first time we’ve reviewed ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails. Considering the enduring popularity of tequila, perhaps it won’t be surprising that our debut focuses on RTD margaritas.
So how are they? The divide is quite wide. The best ones honor the drink’s tequila base. Just like a marg at your favorite bar or restaurant, a good RTD margarita frames tequila’s sweetness and peppery bite with the sweet-tart balance of lime juice and agave nectar and/or orange liqueur.
A key tip: Unfailingly, we found that RTD margaritas are better over ice. They improve when chilled and given a little dilution—which makes sense, considering that classic margs typically are shaken drinks, most often served on the rocks.
While we focused on classic margaritas (including flavored versions like strawberry and mango), RTD canned cocktails are often carbonated, so we expanded the boundaries a bit to include tequila-based spritzes, mules and other bubbly variations.
Further, although all tequila is made in Mexico, classing origins for RTDs often isn’t straightforward. Tequila isn’t always the primary ingredient in the bottle (or can, etc.—more on that in a moment), so for RTD reviews, we designated the origin based on where the producer says the cocktail is composed and bottled or canned.
Expect to see more RTD reviews here. After all, the category has been growing quickly. Most likely, you’ve already spotted these premixed drinks at hotels, airports and train stations, or concert or sports venues—not to mention on the shelves at liquor stores. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, spirits-based RTDs grew by a whopping 37.4% in 2022 in terms of volume, making it the fastest-growing industry category last year.
Tip Top Margarita (USA; Tip Top Proper Cocktails, Atlanta, GA)
This zingy RTD comes as close as you can to a Margarita mixed in a bar, with a pleasing lime scent and a good balance of sweet and tart flavors. Tuck a few of the petite 100-ml cans into a beach bag, and enjoy over plenty of ice.95 Points — Kara Newman
Olmeca Altos Classic Lime Margarita (Mexico; Pernod Ricard, New York, NY)
A bottled Marg good enough to fool someone into thinking it came from their favorite Mexican restaurant. Since this is made by tequila brand Olmeca Altos, of course the agave spirit is front and center, sweetened just enough with triple sec and agave syrup. It all but cries out for a salted glass rim. 94 Points — K.N.
Golden Rule Margarita Original (USA; Golden Rule Spirits, Ventura, CA)
This easy-drinking canned Margarita has lively honey and citrus flavors, finishing with signature tequila bite. Particularly refreshing over ice, which tames the pleasingly peppery heat. 93 Points — K.N.
Thomas Ashbourne The Margalicious Margarita (USA; Thomas Ashbourne Craft Spirits, Boca Raton, FL)
This crowd-pleasing RTD in bright aqua cans is backed by celebs Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rosario Dawson. Look for a light orange hue, with what appears to be orange oil floating on the surface, and a honeyed, tangerine-like aroma. Made with tequila and triple sec, the palate is on the sweeter side, and is particularly crushable over ice. Garnish with an orange slice. 93 Points — K.N.
Happy Hour Tequila Seltzer: Sharp Lime (USA; Can Man, Pennsburg, PA)
Clear and carbonated, with a mild lime peel scent, this is a light and refreshing option for those seeking a not-too-strong, not-too-sweet sipper — it’s made with agave and stevia leaf instead of sugar or orange liqueur – and finishes with a hint of citrus peel bitterness. Serve chilled. Best Buy. 92 Points — K.N.
Happy Hour Tequila Seltzer: Passionfruit (USA; Can Man, Pennsburg, PA)
Passionfruit isn’t part of the ingredient list; the foamy, deep yellow-orange appearance is due to turmeric and vegetable juice. But this fizzy drink, sweetened with agave and stevia leaf, still offers a bold tropical fruit aroma and mango nectar-like flavor, plus a mouthwatering citrusy finish. Serve chilled. Best Buy. 91 Points — K.N.
Zing Zang Mango Margarita (Canada; Zing Zang, Chicago, IL).
Made with mango puree, silver tequila and triple sec, plus agave and cane sugar, this Creamsicle-hued RTD has a bold fruit aroma and super-sweet palate. Consider topping up with chilled soda water to lighten just a bit. Best Buy. 90 Points — K.N.
Olmeca Altos Margarita Strawberry (Mexico; Pernod Ricard, New York, NY)
Give this pink drink a whirl in the blender with plenty of ice, and you’ll have frozen strawberry Margs for a crowd. At first, this channels childhood sweet treats like cotton candy or powdered Fun-Dip; the colder it gets, the more the agave notes of the blanco tequila base come forward, cutting the sweetness. 89 Points — K.N.
Jose Cuervo Peach Lemonade Margarita (USA; Proximo Spirits, Jersey City, NJ)
Made with Jose Cuervo tequila and triple sec, look for a neon orange hue and light, melon-y scent. It’s a bit like drinking a liquefied Jolly Rancher; though it’s meant to be peach, the sweet flavor veers more toward cantaloupe, with a tangerine hint into the finish. Best Buy. 89 Points — K.N.
Happy Hour Tequila Seltzer: Grapefruit (USA; Can Man, Pennsburg, PA)
While grapefruit isn’t listed on the label – vegetable juice supplies the pale pink coloring – this carbonated drink still offers a bold and appealing grapefruit peel scent. The bubbly palate is super-light, sweetened with agave and stevia leaf, with a powdery floral exhale. 89 Points — K.N.
Happy Hour Tequila Seltzer: Margarita (USA; Can Man, Pennsburg, PA)
Overall, this is a super-light take on the RTD Margarita, in terms of flavor, sweetness and strength. The clear, carbonated liquid has a light citrus aroma and some lime-like acidity, made with both lime juice and citric acid. While it’s just a shadow of a true Margarita, it’s still a refreshing and appealing option, especially when well chilled and diluted with ice. 88 Points — K.N.
Cazadores Margarita (Mexico; Tequila Cazadores, Seal Beach, CA)
From tequila producer Cazadores, this carbonated RTD is clear and crisp, with a surprisingly coconutty aroma and flavor. A hint of lime emerges on the finish. Made with blanco tequila, lime juice and sparkling water. Best Buy. 88 Points — K.N.
Jose Cuervo Sparkling Muletta /Tequila Mule (USA; Proximo Spirits, Jersey City, NJ)
A tequila-based take on the classic ginger beer-spiked Moscow Mule, this carbonated RTD pours yellowish and slightly frothy, with a bright ginger root aroma. The palate shows plenty of ginger aroma and heat. A honeyed note lingers into the finish. 88 Points — K.N.
Zing Zang Margarita (Canada; Zing Zang, Chicago, IL)
Zing Zang is best known for its Bloody Mary mix, and the brand touts this RTD as made with an “award-winning” Margarita mix. Look for a frothy, pale-yellow pour with a mild aroma and sweet palate reminiscent of pineapple and lime juices. Best well-chilled and topped up with soda water. Best Buy. 88 Points — K.N.
Jose Cuervo Double Strength Margarita (USA; Proximo Spirits, Jersey City , NJ)
Waterbird Tequila Margarita (USA; Waterbird Spirits, Charlottesville, VA)
Look for a pale straw hue and mild agave aroma. This bubbly RTD has a mild flavor, with some almond sweetness and a hint of citrus into the finish. Made with blanco tequila, triple sec, lime juice, sparkling water and “a pinch of salt.” 87 Points — K.N.
Drake’s Organic Boxtails Perfect Margarita (USA; Drakes Organic Spirits, New Orleans, LA)
The party-ready bag-in-box packaging is equal to two 750-ml bottles. Made with a base of Drake’s Organic Tequila and triple sec, look for a pale yellow hue and sugary aroma. The palate is drying and citrusy, not too sweet, with a tart, puckery finish. 86 Points — K.N.
Bols Cocktails Margarita Azul (The Netherlands; Lucas Bols USA, New York, NY)
The long, thin tube is intriguing, but doesn’t display what’s inside: a startlingly Windex-blue Margarita. Since blue Curacao is an orange liqueur, it’s actually not a far stretch for a blue Margarita, often made with orange liqueur (though not typically blue). So how is it? Quite sweet, with some citrus tang on the finish. Enjoy it, but watch out for your white shirt while partaking. 86 Points — K.N.
Coppa Cocktails Margarita (The Netherlands; M.S. Walker Brands, Boston, MA)
Packaged in a 750-ml bottle shaped like a cobbler cocktail shaker, look for a pale straw hue and coconut aroma. The palate echoes that coconut note, layering funky, overripe fruit tones, plus citrusy acidity into the finish. 86 Points — K.N.
Sabé Margarita (The Netherlands; Sabe Beverages, Manhasset, NY)
What’s inside the can: “sake infused with blanco tequila,” plus lime and lemon flavors. The end result is a cloudy, pale yellow liquid and sweet, slightly ersatz flavor with a citrusy hint. Serve well-chilled. 85 Points — K.N.
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