There’s no denying the fact that Ready To Drink cocktails are here to stay, here’s everything you need to know about what’s inside those cans.

Getting to know what’s inside canned cocktails can help you find the best ones for your palate. To better explore this burgeoning category, we’re bringing you a new series–Demystifying RTD’s–to walk through the different ingredients, benefits, and downsides to the world of canned cocktails.

In our first segment, we’re looking at the different types of spirits used in the ready-to-drink market. Each spirit has its own attributes and while you may find yourself preferring one over another, none are inherently bad.

RTD Cocktails

RTD Cocktails

Malt Beverages

Many of today’s canned cocktails are made from flavored malt beverage (FMB), which is a unique type of alcohol made from a malted grain base. One common style, known as Neutral Malt Base, has the malt color and odor removed to create a highly adaptable alcoholic base. One of the main benefits of malt beverages is how they fall under tax labels. Depending on the qualifications, Malt beverages can fall under the Food and Drug Administration, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or both together. These different classifications can require the brand to obtain certifications and can result in different price ranges.

Agave Spirits

The tricky thing about agave spirits is that despite agave growing in many different places, to fit into the categories of tequila, mezcal, and now Avila, the plants must be grown in specific regions. It’s entirely possible to make a high-end spirit from agave outside of these regions, and it can be done with a more readily available agave at a lower price point.

Neutral Alcohol

Similar to malt-based cans, some producers use neutral alcohol as a base as opposed to a straight spirit. In many cases, this allows the maker to be more specific about their end flavor profile. For instance, using a juniper oil or gin flavoring can help give a dynamic gin flavor that won’t get lost.

Traditional Spirits

Along with the malts and neutral spirits, there are plenty of brands making canned cocktails from traditional spirits like vodka, tequila, gin and, more. While these may be easier to understand when reading the label, it doesn’t necessarily make them any better or worse. As with any cocktail; it all comes down to the other ingredients in the glass or can and personal preference. If you’re purchasing RTD’s for on-premise, opting for traditional spirits can help you keep your ABV level and flavor profiles closer to a traditional cocktail.