Best ready-made and bottled cocktails
Who said you have to go to a bar to enjoy a good cocktail? We’ve found the best premixed and bottled cocktails that are ready to drink straight from the bottle.
While it can be really fun – not to mention satisfying – to make your own cocktails from scratch at home, it can require a lot of resources.
It's not just the cocktail shaker, strainer, various spoons, muddlers and the ice you might need, it’s also the many bottles of booze. Buying all of this can get expensive, not to mention the amount of space needed to keep it in – sadly, we don't all have room for a bar at home!
It’s no real surprise, then, that premixed, bottled cocktails are becoming so popular. You can now find plenty of ready-made cocktails on the market, which have been mixed and bottled by experts – you can enjoy your favourite tipple at home, without the hassle!
Members of the BBC Good Food on-test team sampled bottled negronis, manhattans, espresso martinis, a selection of gin cocktails and some 'wildcard' entries to find our favourite ready-made cocktails on the market right now.
Best bottled cocktails at a glance
- Best light negroni: Bottle Bar and Shop negroni, £33.10
- Best paloma: Black Lines paloma, £19
- Best bottled old fashioned: MAP Lab bourbon old fashioned, £40
- Best classic negroni: Primo Aperitivo negroni, £32.95
- Best bottled margarita: Liberation Cocktails spiced margarita, £20
- Best bottled passion fruit martini: Black Lines passion fruit martini, £22
- Best unique bottled cocktail: Bottle Bar and Shop Remedy, £33.10
- Best espresso martini: Troo espresso martini cocktail, £25
Best bottled cocktails to buy 2023
Bottle Bar and Shop negroni
Best light negroni
Handcrafted at Bottle Bar and Shop in London’s Catford, this is a lighter, drier-tasting and more gin-forward negroni than some of the others we tried. Fans of manhattans and martinis might prefer this for that reason, as the emphasis is shifted more towards the gin and vermouth.
Alongside notes of citrus zest, thanks to 8 weeks of infusion with pink grapefruit and orange zest, this has a pleasant flavour of warming spices, particularly clove, making it taste almost festive. To serve, pour over ice with a slice of orange.
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Black Lines paloma
- Available from Black Lines (£19)
If a paloma is your cocktail order of choice when you're out, this bottled version is for you, managing to stick closely to a freshly shaken serve. This four-ingredient interpretation of the classic combines unaged blanco tequila with fresh citrus, grapefruit soda made in-house and the key touch of Maldon salt. The result is a satisfying mix of sharp, sour and strong with a gentle fizz – the ultimate in summer refreshment.
The capped 750ml bottle is made for sharing in a group for a chic start to a dinner party – the smart illustrated bottle makes it ideal for gifting too. Chill the bottle well before serving, then serve over plenty of ice and with a garnish of fresh grapefruit, if you fancy.
Black Lines (£19)
Map Lab MAP bourbon old fashioned
- Available from MAP Lab (£40)
Best bottled old fashioned
This simple but effective old fashioned comprised of Kentucky bourbon, Angostura bitters and brown sugar really lets the taste of the whisky sing. The use of brown sugar (in place of traditional sugar syrup) provides a rich, caramelised sugar flavour, a little like crème brulée, but without being overly sweet.
At 37% ABV, it’s a punchy glassful, but has an elegant flavour profile combining deep, earthy whisky notes, a touch of citrus and molasses-like sweetness. To serve, stir and pour over ice, then garnish with a twist of orange.
MAP Lab (£40)
Primo Aperitivo negroni
Best classic negroni
A great example of a really classic-tasting negroni, this is satisfyingly rich in flavour, with strong notes of bitter orange and juniper, a slightly, raspberry-jam-like sticky sweetness and subtle hints of rose. It’s full-bodied, without being syrupy. To serve, chill well, pour over ice and garnish with a slice of orange.
Made in Italy, Primo negroni comes in a stylish bottle, the top half of which is matte blue and the base clear glass to allow the vibrant red cocktail to shine through, making it an attractive addition to any drinks cabinet.
Liberation Cocktails spiced margarita
Best bottled margarita
Margarita fans will love this spiced twist from cocktail experts Liberation Cocktails. Smooth tequila blanco has been expertly blended with sharp lime juice, agave nectar and a chilli twist for a fiery edge.
You can have it chilled straight out the fridge to be simply refreshing, or for proper bar-quality results, shake in a cocktail shaker for a frothy top. It offers ultimate refreshment when it is hot, but as a classic cocktail it works just as well all year round.
If you're not a margarita fan, we also rate the Liberation Cocktails classic bottled mojito: just as zesty, but with mint, rum and soda.
Black Lines passion fruit martini
- Available from Black Lines (£22)
A passion fruit martini is an enduring cocktail bar classic. For those with a sweeter tooth, the tropical passionfruit and touch of fragrant vanilla is sure to always appeal.
The smart packaging of Black Lines cocktails makes it perfect for gifting. The passion fruit martini is an expertly blended classic: made using East London vodka mixed with the usual passion fruit and vanilla, but also pineapple and lime to add extra juicy fruit flavour and cut through the sweetness. Black Lines recommend serving by shaking with ice in a cocktail shaker, and garnish with sliced fresh passion fruit. If tropical cocktails aren't your bag, we also rate their espresso martini.
Black Lines (£22)
Bottle Bar and Shop Remedy cocktail
Best unique bottled cocktail
Bottle Bar and Shop’s remedy cocktail is a blend of Fernet-Branca (an Italian amaro), brandy, orange liqueur, bitters and honey.
The result is a complex cocktail with plenty of zesty, fragrant orange flavour and warm honey sweetness, balanced by bitterness. It’s very slightly medicinal (perhaps the reason for its name), but smooth and satisfying.
A fantastic aperitif, simply serve chilled, neat or pour over ice and garnish with a slice of orange.
Troo Cocktails espresso martini
Best bottled espresso martini
A resounding winner, this has a nice coffee flavour (thanks to a mix of freshly brewed Italian espresso and a premium Mexican coffee liqueur), sweet notes of salted caramel and a silky-smooth texture.
The serving instructions suggest shaking in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice for 25 seconds. This creates a really good foamy head – by far the best of any we tried – making it feel luxurious and satisfying, like an espresso martini you’d find in a good bar.
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This review was last updated in May 2023. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.