The bottles

Cutwater Heaters, $13.99 each

The back story

In recent years, the market for canned cocktails — or ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages — has surged. And it’s expected to keep growing: One report forecasts that it will reach $141.85 billion by 2029, up from $89 billion in 2021.

But while many of these drinks make for good summertime refreshers, what are you supposed to sip in the dark days of winter?

Cutwater Spirits, a California-based company that launched in 2017 and is now part of the Anheuser-Busch
family, has an answer of sorts. It recently launched its Heaters line of cocktails that are meant to be served hot — specifically, the line includes Hot Buttered Rum, Whiskey Hot Toddy and Vodka Apple Pie. They’re not completely “ready-to-drink” in the sense that they must be mixed with hot water, but the idea is that they remove some of the preparation involved in making a winter-time beverage.

“We wanted to create something fun and completely different for the colder months,” Gwen Conley, Cutwater’s director of quality, told MarketWatch.

Cutwater does have some experience in the RTD market, with a line of canned cocktails that ranges from a Pineapple Margarita to a Tiki Rum Mai Tai. Still, Conley said it was “tricky” to make a hot-cocktail offering mainly because she was effectively making a concentrate. The “just add water” concept was a new one for her and her team, she said.

What we think of them

I love me a good hot cocktail, but I have always found it challenging to create a bar-worthy version at home. The Cutwater line obviously eliminates the issue and it generally delivers solid results. I’m split as to which is my favorite — the tangy Whiskey Hot Toddy or the dessert-like Hot Buttered Rum. (The Vodka Apple Pie? Not quite my thing.) And while Cutwater provides clear mixing instructions — take 1.5 ounces of the concentrate and combine it with 5 ounces of hot water — I like the fact you can play with the amounts to make a drink that suits your exact taste.

How to enjoy them

The Cutwater team suggests different ways to serve, depending on the cocktail. For the Hot Buttered Rum, they recommend serving with a cinnamon stick. For the Whiskey Hot Toddy, try a lemon garnish. I might add that there’s no law that says these can be enjoyed only in winter…