The Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report has revealed how recent cultural shifts have re-shaped the beverage industry, why we’re craving spice and bitters, which cocktails recipes are on the rise, and how we’re imbibing more mindfully.
Created in collaboration with The Future Laboratory (TFL), a London-based consultancy, the cocktail trends report predicts the changes that will happen in cocktail consumption in 2021.
“The global pandemic has expedited the at-home and e-commerce convenience culture we had already begun to enjoy,
bringing more experiences straight into our homes than we could ever have imagined,” the report notes.
“The pandemic has made home the focal point of our social lives and changed the eating and drinking landscape forever.
Initiatives such as virtual happy hours and live-streamed gigs have allowed people to recreate their favourite elements of bars and restaurants.”
It’s also fuelled a global rise in RTD sales.
Cocktails in cans have proved particularly popular. According to research by Bacardi, close to 30% of consumers claim they plan to purchase RTD cocktails or canned spirit and mixers, with portability and convenience cited as key reasons for stocking up on a pre-made drink.
The exotic flavours we’re craving
Bacardi said a desire for extremes will dictate our drink choices in 2021, with sensorial experiences that range
from the striking heat of chilli through to super-sweet, sour, bitter and smoked flavour profiles.
According to beverage company Flavorman, drinks that burn, cool, tingle and comfort will be in high demand in 2021.
“Bitter taste profiles will continue to be popular due to our palates becoming accustomed to healthier foods such
as kale, which is at the more bitter end of the flavor scale,” Bacardi said.
The Italian aperitivo is another of the cocktail trends being embraced across the globe, spiking interest in bitters and amaro in the US.
As reported in the McCormick Flavor Forecast, heat will be key, with cocktails such as the chilitini, French chili 75, chili whiskey sour, chili libre, and chili bloody mary.
“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,” Bacardi reported.
“Cocktails will become a way to travel the world, as restrictions drive consumers to seek new ways of experiencing international tastes and cultures,” Bacardi noted. “Drinks will offer escapism through flavour and will offer moments
of everyday luxury.
The classics are also back – but with a futuristic twist
Bacardi is expecting bartenders to confound and challenge us with the future faced fusions and variation builds and tastes they’ve been perfecting during lockdown – super-charged bitters, volatile sweets when we expect gentle sours, even hyper-local elixirs that distil the best weeds, mosses, and lichens with the exactness of a chemist.
“If yesterday’s bartender was about skill and mixology, tomorrow’s one is a about alchemy and disruption.” said Martin Raymond, co-founder of The Future Laboratory.
According to Bacardi, 20% 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 premiumisation opportunities are in tequila (60%), dark rum (32%), and mezcal (29%). In Europe, gin is booming, and it is the top trending spirit globally (51%), based on insights gleaned from the Bacardi Global Brand Ambassador Survey.
The pandemic has created new drinking cultures around the world, ranging from Japan’s on-nomi (online drinking) to walktails (cocktails to drink while walking) and making cupboard cocktails from reserves at home.
The appeal of this DIY approach is echoed in data from Nielsen, which shows that 40% of consumers are interested
in make-at-home cocktail kits, followed by bottled pre-made and grab-and-go options (both 37%).
Bacardi predicts cocktail gift packs are set to be big in 2021, but that doesn’t mean the on-premise has lost relevance.
“Last year saw many people practice the art of mixology at home, using what they had on hand to master some classic cocktails,” said Jacob Briars, Head of Advocacy for Bacardi.
“We think in 2021 that knowledge will lead them to experiment more, upgrading their home bars with premium spirits, seeking out new drinks and flavours, and once it is safe to do so, heading to their favourite bars with new appreciation
and thirst for cocktails created by their local bartender.”
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% of consumers are drinking less in general, and 55% 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.