Australia has always been at the forefront of RTD innovation so it’s no surprise that we’ve scored a swag of medals at the 2021 World Premix Awards.
Premium canned cocktails brand Curatif was the frontrunner, with six medals, including two World’s Best Awards. The Melbourne based start-up took out the top gong in the Classic and Contemporary cocktail award categories, winning the World’s Best Classic Cocktail for its Tequila Tromba Margarita and World’s Best Contemporary Cocktail for its Black Pearl Toreador.
The Tequila Tromba Margarita was described by the judges as: “Notes of tequila on the nose with well balanced body. Touch of saltiness and lime juice with earthy and woody finish.”
The Black Pearl Toreador was described as: “A very unusual and intense drink. Beautiful combination of flavours”
Curatif was also awarded with the contemporary Style Winner Award for its Tequila Tromba Margarita, a gold medal for its Plantation Hurricane and two silver medals for its Plantation Pineapple Daiquiri and Jacoby’s Trader Vic’s Mai Tai.
“To receive this global recognition against some incredible cocktails from around the world is a true honour, and a testament to our relationships with the world’s best crafted spirits,” said Matt Sanger, Managing Director and Co-founder, Curatif.
“Our team continues to push the boundaries of the premixed category with the quality of our ready to serve cocktails, created and perfected with the finest ingredients from around the world.”
Other Aussie brands that took home medals were Fellr Watermelon, which won Silver in the World’s Best Hard Seltzer category; while in the World’s Best Spirit and Mixer categories Just. Pink Gin & Soda won Gold; Twenty Third Street Distillery Signature Gin & Tonic, Volsk Lemon Lime Vodka Soda, Just Vodka Soda Black and The West Winds Gin Strawberry Basil Gin & Soda were both awarded Silver; and Volsk Berry Vodka Soda, The West Winds Gin & Tonic, Somma Cucumber & Mint Alcoholic Mineral Water, 78 degrees Classic Gin & Tonic, Manly Spirits Gin & Tonic and Lilly Pink Gin & Tonic were all awarded Bronze medals.
Additionally, Easy Rider Bourbon & Cola took out the Style trophy in the Whisky & Mixer category, with the judges saying: “Notes of smoke on the nose and the palate, brings bacon and maple syrup to mind. An interesting flavour.”
The global rise of RTDs
The Smithsonian Magazine kicked off an article called “The Intoxicating History of the Canned Cocktail” last year with the anecdote that when Fred Noe got married 34 years ago, his father, Booker, supplied the drinks.
“In addition to Jim Beam Bourbon, which Booker, Jim Beam’s grandson and sixth-generation Master Distiller, made himself, he also brought cans of Beam and cola. He appropriated a bourbon barrel to make a cooler and then put them out for guests. It was a humid day, and the supply was quickly depleted.”
Fred added: “They were low-proof and quite a refreshing drink. No one had ever seen them before. They were really a novelty thing for people.”
He noted that premixed drinks were already a big success in Australia. “Everyone knew my dad really liked his bourbon, but he thought they’d make a good chaser. And they were quite the craze there for a little bit.”
They stayed in favour in Australia, but their popularity waned in many other markets … until recently.
Consumer demand for canned cocktails is on a rapid growth trajectory, with the global canned cocktails market forecast to grow more than sixfold over the next 10 years, from $US25billion in 2020 to $US155billion in 2030, according to FactMR, 2020, “Canned Cocktails Forecast, Trend, Analysis & Competition Tracking – Global Market Insights 2020 to 2030.
Canned cocktails are a sub-segment of the premixed drinks category, which recorded an annual growth rate of 30.2% in 2019/20 in Australia2 and is expected to see continued growth in 2021 and beyond.
Their success globally is being fuelled by their at-home convenience during lockdown restrictions. As Daily.SeventyFive notes: “The RTD category certainly isn’t new, and it was gaining steam before the pandemic. But with the bar industry crippled and no clear idea of when sitting on an indoor stool watching a bartender stir a Martini to life will become the delightful norm again, the canned cocktail has been catapulted into the spotlight. According to Nielsen, canned cocktails have generated $117.99 million off-premise during the pandemic (from March 7 to August 15); that’s a 146.6% increase compared to a year earlier.
“Perhaps more important than the category’s volume growth is its clear direction towards premiumization, reinforced by the arrival of many high-quality craft offerings.”
And distillers are taking their cues from the Australian market. Richard Betts, a master sommelier who founded such spirits brands as Sombra Mezcal and Tequila Komos, saw the strength of the RTD category in Australia, where he was making wine, and wanted to launch a tequila-based version for the US market. His Superbird Paloma is a blend of pink grapefruit juice, agave nectar, and 100% blue agave tequila blanco and its flying off the shelves.