It is fair to say that the cocktail trend has soared in the last few years and is showing absolutely no signs of slowing. Nowadays it is impossible to scroll through your Instagram feed without being presented with an elaborate image of a beautiful cocktail in an equally beautiful bar. Last week we attended The Morning Advertiser’s annual spirit summit that this year had a focus on future cocktail trends.
With the likes of Be At One cocktail bar witnessing a 400% increase in cocktail sales since 2012, what are they key factors driving this growth? And more importantly, is the category heading in the future? Ask Kate Goodbrand-Dillon and Sheniz Onen
We have outlined the top 5 factors pushing this trend based on insight from the summit.
Cocktails and food
According to the latest data from CGA, 6.5 million consumers are now choosing to drink a cocktail with their meal when eating out, so it is no surprise that food venues have a crucial role to play in the future growth of cocktails. It is no longer enough for outlets to just have a good food offering – now, more than ever, a varied, comprehensive and most importantly, premium drinks offering can sway the consumer’s decision on where to eat. The rise in ‘third space’ venues including festivals, and pop-up restaurants and bars mean that venues must compete more than ever.
Cocktails that satisfy the eye and palate
Cocktail culture is one of the biggest trends where the phrase “doing it for the ‘gram” has never been more appropriate. In the words of Global Cocktail Ambassador Ben Reed: “If it’s good enough to tweet, it’s good enough to drink or eat”. The way a drink looks is now just as important as the way it tastes, and this is only set to become more important. A cocktail made with a a premium spirit, complemented by a premium mixer and finished off with eye catching garnishes makes for a winning combination.
Influencial bar staff
Education in cocktails and spirits will ultimately solidify the growth within the sector. If consumers understand the complexity of a spirit, they will better understand which flavour profiles best marry together, strengthening their love for certain drink combinations. But who is best placed to drive this educative process? The answer is simple, bartenders. Consumers put a considerable amount of trust in bartender recommendations, with the industry seeing a 70% increase from 2015-2017 in consumers wanting bartender recommendations. A bar with informed, engaging and charismatic bartenders has the right ingredients for success.
Speed in service
If there is one key insight into the mind of the cocktail consumer, it is that consumers are fundamentally lazy. Consumers want premium quality at the click of a finger, and this is where the dilemma lies. How, if at all, is it possible to maintain premium quality when the drink has been pre-batched and packaged the night before? Well, according to Zoe Burgess, head of research and development at The Drink Factory it is very simple. Zoe argues that if bartenders are using the most premium quality spirits and mixers, the product will remain fresh and all it needs is some creative garnishing to complete the serve. The main issue lies in the consumer perception – being able to watch a skilled bartender whip up an elaborate serve before your eyes is a huge part of the theatre of cocktail experience. With pre-made cocktails able to satisfy the consumers need for both speed and quality of serves, could this be the future?
Spirits to watch out for
We all know that the gin category in the UK has soared in the last few years with 49 new distillery openings and 18,000 outlets adding gin to their menu in 2016 alone. However, what we will start to see is a rise in super-premium and pink gins due to their accessibility, versatility and Instagrammable nature. Gin aside, the spirit set to soar in the few years is golden rum which has seen an increase of 13% in both volume and value in the past year. Global Rum ambassador, Ian Burrell has predicted that the trend will be driven by the spirit’s breadth of appeal, the growth of cocktails and the global trend of premiumisation. So, watch this space, we are about to see an explosion in the rum category… oh, and it might be worth investing in some Tiki glasses…