The rapid rise of the cocktail crowds
Current cocktail trends and beyond
There used to be a time where you had to travel further to get a well-made cocktail. However over recent years we have seen more venues get better and widen their offering, along with many ready-made cocktail solutions which have come to market to help bridge the gap from having nothing to being the very best.
Despite there being a decrease in consumers drinking alcohol in recent times, the cocktail consumers are actually on the rise – in fact, 11% more consumers drank cocktails in 2022 vs 20211
This increase in popularity is down to various factors:
1. The rise of stay at home mixologists
37% of consumers are making more cocktails at home2 and becoming much better at them too. We know that through lockdown many consumers went out purchasing cocktail equipment and there was a rapid rise in cocktail shaker sales as an example.
Consumers missed the experience they had out in bars and tried to replicate some of the drinks serves they missed, this now means that consumers appreciate a well-made cocktail but spot a badly made one a mile off too!
2. The growing desire for individuality
I have mentioned this before – we are no longer a nation of sheep who follow suit and order a drink just because that’s what our friend is having. We have seen a rapid rise in craft beers, the gin market – the sheer breadth of this category now with circa 6,000 brands available globally and obviously cocktails.
Consumers are wanting to stand out from the crowd whether that be a spin on a classic Mojito or something really unusual like drinks served in lightbulbs (one I saw recently!)
That leads me onto my third driver for the growth…
3. The theatre
Cocktails have always been about the theatre, it’s that treat on payday or just knowing that you’re getting something that extra little bit special. We have all seen the trends that point towards people going out less but spending more, cocktails ties in perfectly with this; It’s all about the experience and sharing that with friends through social media.
How many times when you are out now do you look around and see people snapping photos of their meal or their drinks before getting stuck in? Now be really honest – when was the last time you did it? Having something that looks fantastic as well as tasting fantastic is absolutely key if you are offering cocktails.
The environment you provide for those consumers to enjoy those cocktails is also key, it’s no good serving a well-made cocktail in a mini bathtub if the consumer has got nowhere to sit down and enjoy it with friends and family (which 44% of consumers say is the number one cocktail drinking ocassion!3)
So what should you be looking to offer if you are pulling together your cocktail offering?
Well you need some of the classics like the Mojito, Pornstar Martini, Strawberry Daiquiri, Espresso Martini but then maybe look at twists on these classic – Pineapple is a flavour that is rapidly rising in popularity – maybe a Pineapple Daiquiri?
Spices are also something that Bartenders are starting to see a larger demand for; paprika, cardamom, chipotle, chilli. Nostalgia is also an area to consider, 25-44 year olds are looking back to past drinking experiences they have had, hence why we have serves like the Pina Colada and Sex on the Beach rise in popularity.
In regards to base spirits make sure you have all areas covered, you’ll need some decent vodkas and gins for your big hitters, but think about rum which is now seeing huge growth as a category and also tequila & mezcal which is destined for massive growth in the UK ontrade.
Finally you may read all this and think – I just don’t have the time or staff to be able to offer cocktails and do them well. The important thing is that whatever you do, do it well as consumers have value for money at the top of their priority list- this should not be confused with cheap but just a fair offering for what they pay.
Staff shortages in the UK on trade are massive problem – around 9% of positions in the UK hospitality sector remain unfilled.4 So if you don’t have the time or the staff to make cocktails work then look towards some of the ready-made options on the market, there are some fantastic liquids out there and they are getting better, even 62% of Bartenders now see pre-batched cocktails with high potential.5
Make sure you are realistic about your pricing but they can be a great stepping stone where speed of serve or staff levels are a concern.
So there you go – get on the cocktail bandwagon! Trends are much shorter lived these days and so it’s important to stay abreast with current trends and if you’re ever in doubt with what’s popular just look to your left or right when out in trade and see what people are snapping up on their social media channels.
Explore our alcohol offering and range here.
For more great insight on cocktail trends to help your drinks menu hit the mark with consumers, visit our Alcohol trends page.
1Morning Advertiser 17th Oct 2022
2Döhler Market Intelligence 2023
3Döhler Market Intelligence 2023
4Morning Advertiser 14th March 2023
5Döhler Market Intelligence 2023