The Best Ready-to-Drink Margarita: 11 Brands Tasted

The Best Ready-to-Drink Margarita: 11 Brands Tasted

National Margarita Day is February 22, and true patriots of libation nation will be honoring their favorite tequila-lime traditions across this great land. For those who’d rather crack open a can than shake up a home-built cocktail, we’ve sampled 11 notable ready-to-drink options to help you with your celebrations.

Whether you’re a traditionalist lean toward the novel or avant garde, you’re bound to find something in this selection that suits your margaritas operandi. Here now, the selections for your consideration.

MAINSTREAM CLASSICS

Straightaway Margarita– Just a little off the beaten path of ready-to-drink margaritas is Straightaway’s noteworthy concoction of reposado tequila, mezcal, lime, mango syrup, and habanero. This margarita is surprisingly well layered for a canned cocktail, striking a delightful balance between clean and smoky with the tequila and mezcal, and between sweet and heated with the mango and habanero. Of all the cans in this roundup, Straightaway’s was the one I most lamented running out of when the tasting was done. 25% abv. A / $24 per four-pack of 100ml cans / straightawaycocktails.com

10 Barrel Brewing Classic Margarita– Made in Oregon. Made with tequila, triple sec, lemon-lime, honey, and a little salt, Oregon-based 10 Barrel continues its craft of ready-to-drink cocktails with this Classic Margarita. Aimed at the center of the bullseye for what we all think of when we think of a margarita, this RTD classic delivers a clean, though fairly sweet, citrusy sipper delivers refreshing lime to the palate and tangy triple sec to the nose with only the lightest tequila flavor. The honey is subtle and could easily be mistaken for agave syrup, and the pinch of salt balances and enhances the whole sensory experience. It’s sweet, but not cloying, and the tang is soft rather than biting. All in, this is an easy-drinking party cocktail that’s ready for a good time and probably won’t alienate anyone. 9% abv. B+ / $12 per four-pack / 10barrel.com

Golden Rule Margarita Original – Another basic ready-to-drink margarita, Golden Rule’s simple blend of 100% agave tequila, triple sec, and fresh lime juice is simple and unsurprising. The tequila takes the foreground in the flavor profile here, offering a more booze-forward alternative to the light and sweet flavors of more mainstream canned options. 27% abv. B- / $20 per four-pack of 100ml cans / goldenrulespirits.com

Tip Top Proper Cocktails Margarita– Made with tequila, orange liqueur, and I can only assume the tiniest squeeze of lime, this stiff drink comes in at a heavy 26% abv, roughly three times the alcohol of comparable RTD cocktails. Unlike the Golden Rule Margarita, which has slightly more alcohol content by percentage, this one delivers a punch of hot vapor straight to the nose, but also carries a notable salty-lime secondary profile. While the can proclaims the drink “always balanced” and “never too sweet,” we’re more inclined to agree with the latter claim than the former. While the lime and orange flavors do come through, they’re mere background players in an intensely tequila-dominant performance. 26% abv. C+ / $40 per eight-pack of 100ml cans / tiptopcocktails.com

1800 Ultimate Margarita– Straight from the center of the supermarket mainstream shelves, the popular 1800 Ultimate Margarita hews as closely as possible to the centerline of what defines a margarita in the supermarket aisle. It’s vibrant green, sweeter than most, and all but masks the flavor of the tequila blanco whence its manufacturer made its name. If you’re looking for something wholly inoffensive and easy to serve a crowd without breaking the bank, this one will get the job done. 9.95% abv. C /  $22 per 1.75L bottle / 1800tequila.com

SPARKLING MARGARITAS

Cazadores Margarita– With a hint of sparkling water, the Cazadores Margarita stays true to the mainstream of margarita flavors based on Cazadores Blanco tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur. It’s light, effervescent, and highly approachable, with a tangy aftertaste that, while initially off-putting, grew on us over time, putting this slightly fizzy option in the middle of the pack for our roundup. 5.9% abv. B / $15 per four-pack of 12 ounce cans / cazadores.com

Austin Cocktails Margarita– Sparkling water and bergamot orange give this premade margarita a distinctive profile that’s interesting enough to have a conversation about. Built on a fairly traditional backbone of tequila, triple sec, and lime, the bergamot makes for a bitter, but interesting, twist on a well-worn formula. The overall impact is green and grassy, a bit abrasive, but crisp and refreshing. B- / $15 per 4-pack of 8 oz cans / austincocktails.com

INTERESTING ALTERNATIVES

Boochcraft Ginger-Lime Kombucha – While no one would confuse the Boochcraft Ginger-Lime hard kombucha with a traditional margarita, the lime-centric flavor profile is a fun option on this hallowed national holiday. Made with organic probiotic cultures, fresh ginger and lime, Boochcraft boasts healthy kombucha digestive effects beyond the enjoyment of the libation itself. Effervescent and bright, ginger dominates the palate with this drink, and of course there’s no tequila in it at all. As the ginger flavors subside, Boochcraft’s canned kombucha leaves a pleasant lime aftertaste that lingers until the next sip. While we were skeptical at first, we found ourselves wanting more and not even caring that it ain’t even a margarita. 7% abv. B+ / $16 per six-pack of 12-ounce cans / boochcraft.com

El Hempe Lemon-Lime OG Kush – Cannabis lovers disappointed by the lack of weedy terpenes in their cocktails will feel seen when they get a whiff of El Hempe Lemon-Lime OG Kush. Made with sparkling water, tequila, natural lemon and lime flavors, and infused with cannabis terpenes, El Hempe delivers a novel take on the margarita without calling it one. The woody pine OG Kush cannabis aromas hit the nose the moment you crack the can, and keep on delivering as you sip. But there’s no THC or CBD in this drink, just rock-solid pot aromas. Overall, this drink doesn’t disappoint on the margarita flavor profiles, though purists will certainly squawk. 9% abv. B+ / $18 per four-pack / el-hempe.com

Golden Rule Paloma– Close enough to a margarita for consideration on National Margarita Day is the Paloma, a marg-adjacent cocktail built on grapefruit rather than lime and orange flavors. Golden Rule’s Tequila Paloma blends 100% agave tequila, pink grapefruit liqueur, Rio Red grapefruit juice, and lime juice. Like its Margarita Original, the Golden Rule Tequila Paloma is a heavy hitter both in its flavor profile and alcohol content. The tequila is bold and reposado in character, and the grapefruit flavors bolster that enough that some of our tasters visibly shuddered on their first sip. That said, it mellows with further sips and is worth a try if you like bolder tequila drinks. Rated purely for its performance in the Paloma category, this one gets a B-, which isn’t bad for a canned cocktail. 15% abv. B- / $20 per four-pack of 100ml cans / goldenrulespirits.com

Olmeca Altos Strawberry Margarita – The new Strawberry Margarita from Olmeca Altos blends Olmeca Altos Plata tequila, natural strawberry flavors, and agave syrup to delivers light, refreshing fruit aromas to the nose and soft tequila background notes to the palate. It’s a simple, almost one-note drink, but easy-sipping if faintly medicinal. Those looking for a none-too-fussy alternative to traditional lime-orange-salt margarita flavors might consider this fruity alternative. 15% abv. C / $21 per 750ml bottle / olmecaaltos.com

Robert Strohmeyer has been writing about spirits, wine, and food since 2001. A frequent denizen of Northern California wineries and distilleries, he is as at home with a glass of small-batch whisky as with a Napa Valley Cab. He loves crafting tiki cocktails, roasting coffee, cooking slow and low barbecue, baking artisan breads, and occasionally brewing beer.

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