New report suggests cocktail trends for 2021

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Monkey Shoulder whisky cocktail

By Puja Gupta

New Delhi– Domestic hedonism to mindful moderation will drive the cocktail trend in 2021, said a new report.

The Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report reveals how recent cultural shifts have reshaped the beverage industry and also predicts the changes that will happen in cocktail consumption in 2021.

“The pandemic has shifted mindsets and accelerated emerging trends, the report is a window to these changes,” says Brenda Fiala, Global Vice President, Strategic Insights and Analytics for Bacardi.

“These insights help us navigate the consumer landscape and set the course for future growth, as we enter a new year in which adults of legal drinking age are looking forward to reestablishing connection, creating new rituals, and toasting to simple moments of celebration with loved ones.”

Domestic hedonism

The pandemic has transformed our homes into the focal point of our social lives. In the UK, one in five people are hosting virtual gatherings; 40 per cent of US consumers are interested in make-at-home cocktail kits and to-go cocktails (Nielsen CGA).

Prior to lockdowns, only 1 per cent of spirits sales were online as people weren’t really aware of shopping of bottles or cocktails via their browsers. Within weeks of lockdowns, consumers discovered they can buy spirits online and have them delivered right to their door, leading to exponential growth of online spirits sales. A new culture of convenience, enabled by the meteoric rise of e-comm, is on the rise.

Drizly, an alcohol e-commerce platform, grew by 350 per cent in 2020, according to IWSR. An appetite for convenience, and a new abundance of caution, have together sparked a 131 per cent rise in ready-to-drink (RTD) canned cocktails in the US (Nielsen CGA).

As this category flourishes further this year, expect to see some new players in the game.

Gustatory thrill-seeking

A longing for nostalgic comforts, combined with a desire for escapism, have led many drinkers to craft their own twists on classic cocktails and dabble in edgy flavouring. Many more people are now keen to venture beyond their cocktail comfort zone, and are exploring novel, intense flavours, infusing their drinks with spicy, smoky, super-sweet, and bitter tastes.

The Italian aperitivo is being embraced across the globe, spiking interest in bitters in particular. As consumers thirst for a familiar reprieve from lockdown life, classic cocktails are also growing in popularity, as are pursuits of fun twists on these time-honoured staples.

More people are pushing the boundaries of experimentation with cocktails like the chili whisky sour and turmeric-infused gin and ginger cocktails, suggesting the emergence of gustatory thrill-seeking.

Experimental aficionados.

Post-lockdown, having experimented with homemade cocktails, consumers will be armed with a newfound knowledge of spirits and cocktails. This shift will fuel a reinvention of bars, led by an informed appreciation for bartenders’ skills.

According to Bacardi, 20 per cent of customers are now keen to explore drinks that weren’t on their radar pre-lockdown, including premium versions of their favourite spirits or of others they haven’t sampled before. As a result, we’ll see more elevated, to-go options, as well as premium batched cocktails.

In North America, the best premiumization opportunities are in tequila (60 per cent), dark rum (32 per cent), and mezcal (29 per cent). In Europe, gin is booming, and it is the top trending spirit globally (51 per cent), based on insights gleaned from the Bacardi Global Brand Ambassador Survey.

Sustainability savvy. The pandemic has not derailed the focus on sustainability and transparency. These issues remain at the forefront of the minds of spirits’ consumers, with nearly 70 per cent of them in the US and Canada agreeing that it’s important for a brand to be sustainable or eco-friendly (IBM, National Retail Association Federation).

This desire for more environmentally conscious consumption has also entered into bars and restaurants. 58 per cent of Bacardi brand ambassadors in North America say they have noticed an increase in bartenders’ interest in zero-waste ingredients.

Moderation mediated by mindfulness

As people seek mindful options, low-ABV and non-alcoholic cocktails provide an alternative, and this market is continuing to grow at a fast pace. While Western Europe is leading the NoLo trend, globally, 22 per cent of consumers are drinking less in general, and 55 per cent of mindful drinkers are consuming low-ABV drinks.

Bars and restaurants are starting to take note of this shift. Many have adopted hybrid menus that offer drinks in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions, and many more likely will this year. (IANS)

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