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Refreshment Roundup: Thinking Beyond White Claw

First things first: I have no problem with White Claw. It’s smart for operators to offer Claws for to-go sales if that’s what’s resonating with customers and generating revenue.

It’s also wise to see what else is out there that may appeal to in-person guests and takeout and delivery customers. Claws may pay the bills at some bars and restaurants but customers still want to try new things. In fact, being stuck at home and have much of their lives upended may mean they’re even more interested in finding and trying new things at their favorite bars and restaurants.

According to Nielsen off-trade data, RTDs and tequila have experienced notable growth since April of this year. Watching what’s moving off-premise can give on-premise operators insight into what their customers want to drink.

As always, operators should know their numbers, reviewing the customer data they collect to make informed product decisions. If RTDs make sense for a particular venue, the products below could prove profitable.

Cutwater Spirits
With 18 expressions, Cutwater’s lineup can certainly give White Claw a run for their money. Released in March of this year, Tequila Soda is Cutwater’s newest RTD. Tequila Soda joins Tequila Paloma and Tequila Margarita, meaning three of this brand’s canned cocktails speak to current consumer trends.

I’ve covered Volley before, included amongst a list of alternatives to soda. This product line—available in Zesty Lime, Tropical Mango, Sharp Grapefruit, and Spicy Ginger—embodies two alcohol beverage categories that have reportedly seen impressive growth: RTDs and tequila, as does the aforementioned Cutwater Tequila Soda.

This sparkler, launched just in time for summer, is also well positioned to take advantage of the popularity of RTDs and tequila. Onda is made with tequila crafted by a woman-owned distillery in Jalisco. The two expressions, Lime and Grapefruit, are sparkling takes on classic tequila cocktails made with real fruit juices. Both Onda sparklers are 5% ABV, 100 calories, and gluten-free with zero carbs and zero sugar.

Ole Smoky
Moonshine makers Ole Smoky have entered the RTD space. These moonshine cocktails are available in four expressions, two of which leverage the popularity of classic cocktails. The Mountain ‘Rita is Ole Smoky’s take on America’s number one cocktail, and the Mountain Mule is a moonshine version of the Moscow Mule. Ole Smoky Berry Lemonade and Apple Pie Ginger round out the lineup. These RTDs weight in at 9% ABV and are currently available throughout Tennessee. However, as the top moonshine brand in America, these newly launched canned cocktails have countrywide potential.

Jack Daniel’s Canned Cocktails
From the number one moonshine to another top American whiskey. Just looking at sales data, Jack Daniel’s is the top-selling whiskey in America, period. These RTDs may never topple hard seltzer kingpin White Claw but brand recognition alone should position them well against canned cocktail competitors. Jack Daniel’s canned whiskey drinks are availble in three refreshing expressions: Whiskey & Cola (7% ABV); Whiskey, Honey & Lemonade (7% ABV); and Whiskey & Seltzer (5% ABV).

Availble in Southern California at the moment, Yatta! is a unique product that has potential to grow nationwide. This RTD is the first American chu-hi, which translates from Japanese to “shochu highball.” At launch, these sugar-free, zero-carb RTDs are available in Grape, Pineapple and Yuzu Lemon.

Brunch had become a profitable and important brand-building daypart before the pandemic hit. As people attempt to cling to a semblance of their pre-COVID-19 lives and try to enjoy the summer, it can still be an important to bars and restaurants. Ohza RTDs offer Mimosas and Bellinis in canned convenience. Ohza is available in Classic Bellini, Classic Mimosa, and Mango Mimosa, and at just 140 calories and 5% ABV, these RTDs can be enjoyed all day with very little guilt.

Neither the author nor Hospitality Villains received compensation, monetary or otherwise, from these brands, their distributors or any other entity in exchange for this post.

All images belong to their respective brands.

David Klemt View All

I’ve been studying and writing about the hospitality industry since 2006. Like so many people, I started my journey in this business by working as a host, server and bartender. I was introduced to nightlife in Chicago, learning the ins and outs of nightclubs and after-hours hot spots.

After moving to Las Vegas nearly 20 years ago, I both co-owned a valet company and helped promote the club it serviced. That led to me taking on the role of editor for a Las Vegas hospitality industry publication.

A few short years later, I continued along my journey of hospitality industry reporting. I went from contributing to a major industry outlet to taking on the role of editor and content curator.

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