It’s time to pop some bottles.
Pomegranate Paloma
Credit: Greg DuPree

There’s nothing quite like spending a summer afternoon sipping cocktails and chatting with friends. After all, longer days means more time outdoors and hot temps mean more reason to sip on something refreshingly cold and lightly sweet.

Though we’re usually all about sipping on our own homemade summer cocktails or making a batch cocktail for a party, sometimes we just want something easy. So, we tried 11 bottled cocktails to see which are worth snagging for a last-minute Sunday brunch or an evening happy hour on the fly. Here’s what our staffers thought.

Most Powerful Punch: Empower Cosmopolitan Martini

Though this isn’t your classic martini, Empower brings a surprisingly sophisticated and flavorful drink to the table. The cocktail consists of a light blend of locally-sourced sweet potato vodka, white cranberry, triple sec, and lime flavors. Tasters described it as not-too-sweet, and potent enough to offer a delicate vodka burn. If you’re looking for a strong, but subtly fruity cocktail, this is for you. According to the makers, the bottled cocktail is best served chilled in a martini glass with your favorite garnish. Stash this one in your fridge for an after-work cocktail, at the ready; just be sure to keep this bottle limited to the fridge or cool your cocktail quickly using ice, as this bottle is not freezer-friendly. Empower Cocktail’s Cosmopolitan Martini is currently available at retailers in select cities, or online for $22 per bottle.

Aldi Bellinis
Credit: Arielle Weg

Arielle Weg

Best Bang for Your Buck: Belmonti Bellinis

Staffers unanimously agreed these were a bit too sweet for our taste, but at $5.99 a bottle we would totally pick one up for a weekend brunch. The bellinis come in strawberry, peach, and raspberry—peach being the clear favorite flavor among our tasting panel. Tasters noted the faint bubbles, and the desire to top this off with sparkling water or a little extra booze. Snag a bottle for your summer get-together exclusively at Aldi.

Honorable Mention: Crafthouse Cocktails’ Paloma

Replace your summer margs with this alternative tequila-based sipper. The authentic Mexican cocktail is made using tequila, grapefruit soda, and lime—making a sweet and grapefruit-forward drink. Tasters noted it was a bit sweet, but if grapefruit is your thing, this is definitely a summer drink you’ll love. Snag a 700-milliliter bottle for $19.99 at any of these retailers or online.

Honorable Mention: Austin Cocktails’ Fred’s Ruby Red

We found this grapefruit cocktail to be on the sweeter side of things, but definitely drinkable. The combination of vodka, grapefruit, lime, mint, and agave provides a juicy sip, but left us longing for a touch more bitterness. You can buy a bottle at one of their online retailers for $14.99 to $16.99.

The Runner Up: Crafthouse Cocktails’ Southside

A sip of the gin, lime, sugar, and mint cocktail was very consistently followed with an, “Oh this is nice” from our tasters. The cocktail features some light effervescence, with a hint of sweetness and a kick of citrus. One staffer noted the drink tastes like a cocktail you would find at an actual bar, with complex and refreshing flavors. Another mentioned the floral and citrusy undertones that make this summer-worthy. Snag a 700-milliliter bottle for $19.99 at any of these retailers or online.

Our Favorite: Austin Cocktails’ Cucumber Vodka Mint

Tasters loved the flavors in this mixture of vodka, cucumber, mint, lime, and agave. Staffers described the cocktail as super crisp, refreshing, and balanced. We noted all flavors promised on the bottle actually came through nicely, and it’s a perfect cocktail for summer entertaining. You can buy a bottle online at one of their online retailers for $14.99 to $16.99.