Canned cocktails are the hottest new global trend in drinks and a Melbourne company has established itself as a world leader in the market. New international markets and cocktail collaborations are just a few of the plans Curatif has in store for the coming months.
It’s been a huge year for the company. In April, Curatif took out six medals at the 2021 World Premix Awards and won World’s Best Classic Cocktail for its Tequila Tromba Margarita and World’s Best Contemporary Cocktail for its Black Pearl Toreador.
Last month, it announced a $2.5million investment deal, with funding secured from a consortium of private investors led by Brodie Arnhold, who has significant investments in companies including Shaver Shop, Endota Spa, and Industry Beans.
“Our consortium loves a founder-led business in a new category that has the ability to be the fastest-growing beverage category globally,” said Arnhold.
From September, Curatif’s full suite of canned cocktails will be available to consumers across the country from selected Dan Murphy’s and BWS stores.
“We are expecting premium, canned cocktails to be one of this spring and summer’s biggest drinks trends,” said Endeavour Group’s Category Manager Premix Lance Friedman.
“Customers got into the spirit of making cocktails and discovering exciting flavours during lockdown, and canned cocktails are a continuation of the trend but are making the art of enjoying cocktails a lot more convenient, while not compromising on quality.”
The canned cocktail global boom
It’s not just Australians who are seeking bar-quality cocktails at home in the convenience of a can. The global canned cocktail market is forecast to grow more than sixfold over the next 10 years, from US$25billion in 2020 to US$155billion in 2030.
Canned cocktails are a sub-segment of the premixed drinks category, which grew by 30.2% in 2019/20 in Australia and are expected to see continued exponential growth in 2021 and beyond.
In the United States, the premixed cocktail category grew by 50% in the United States between 2019 and 2020 according to industry tracker IWSR.
Perhaps more important than the category’s volume growth is its move towards premiumization, reinforced by the arrival of high-quality craft offerings.
Experts say interest in the category is also being fuelled by the rise of hard seltzer in the US. However, Curatif co-founder Matt Sanger notes that Australia has a vastly different history in the segment. Consumers are more familiar with mixed drinks in cans and he sees the move to premiumisation as being a more sustainable trend.
“Seltzer has been an exciting cultural phenomenon that some brands have made an enormous amount of noise and money from,” he said. “Our business was founded on the concepts of quality, integrity, and sustainability – the result has been world class cocktails, made with peerless spirits, in packaging that is fully recyclable and is mostly recycled. We don’t have a great interest in becoming the biggest new trend (don’t tell our shareholders), instead we’d prefer to continue to scour the planet for partners who can provide exquisite spirits and liqueurs so we might continue to spend our time making inimitable cocktails.”
Curatif is currently available in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. It’s also in the process of launching Hong Kong. However, Curatif co-founder Matt Sanger said that while the company’s international footprint is “an exciting prospect that we are working to expand on, our primary focus is our local market”.
“There are plenty of untapped opportunities to partner with so many iconic Australian businesses that we feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface on so far,” he said.
He noted that while winning awards internationally has been the (maraschino) cherry on top of an exciting couple of years in market, his focus is on partnering with the best makers in the industry.
“After all, if you want to make incredible drinks it is unequivocal that you need to start with class leading spirits and liqueurs,” he said. “When we started out it was pretty challenging to get those brands to answer the phone, however thanks to some visionaries – including Will Edwards at Archie Rose, and Stu, Matt and Cam at Four Pillars Gin – a whole new category was created which is now rapidly accelerating in both quality and volume globally. The result for Curatif is that our phone has not stopped ringing … metaphorically – it’s mostly email … since. It’s a really exciting time to be in this space.”
As for the impacts of lockdowns and restrictions on Curatif’s partners, Sanger remains hopeful for the future.
“COVID has devastated hospitality, which is where we came from and where our heart is,” he said. “Curatif was born in late nights, loud music and full spirits – the drinks we make for you to keep in your fridge are the recipes of the great cocktails that are made in the world’s best bars. There has been some commercial upside for our business during lockdowns, so it has been a bitter pill for Curatif to swallow while we see our great friends suffer. After all, our drinks are the drinks of the world’s best bars, but without those bars our cocktails are just great drinks without a story.”
In the meantime, Sanger has been busy concocting new collaborations for Curatif that will soon be appearing on shelf.
“We have an Amaretto Sour collab that we plan to announce in the next couple of weeks with a very well known Melbourne hospitality group,” he said. “We have collabs en route with award winning bars in Singapore, and all new brand collabs – including one of the world’s most famous brands – launching soon. We couldn’t be more excited to show you what’s next!”