Big and bold flavours, guilt-free indulgence, twists on classics are predicted to dominate cocktail trends in the New Year.
Cocktails are well placed for growth in Australia’s on-premise according to CGA’s new in-depth OPUS research. Their findings dovetail with those from beverage development company Flavorman in the US, which has announced the cocktail trends to watch for in 2022. Driven by the long-term effects of an ongoing pandemic, this year’s forecast is shaping up to focus on celebrating life’s simple pleasures while striving for balance.
Here are just five of customers’ key preferences influencing cocktail trends right now.
Consumers are keen to try new and distinctive drinks as they settle back into pubs, bars and restaurants. According to CGA, around a third (35%) of cocktail drinkers say they try new spirit brands when drinking cocktails, and nearly as many (32%) try new spirit types. They are also much more likely than the average consumer to say that ‘interesting’, ‘unique’ and ‘high quality’ attributes have become more important to them since the start of the pandemic.
Flavorman notes that consumer tastes are now evolving towards botanical-forward beverages—particularly in the premium sector. Floral profiles like hibiscus, lavender and elderflower are becoming more mainstream and making way for the earthier, more herbal flavours of turmeric, anise and rosemary.
“Many of the ingredients you would find in your kitchen spice cabinet can introduce an extra element to a drink, providing new dimensions of flavour or functionality,” said Katie Clark, Flavorman’s Lab Manager. “Consumers tend to react to these twists with greater expectations—an insight that brands can leverage in premium beverage offers.”
Because premium is also so often associated with quality, ingredients like juice and full sugar are also becoming more popular in beverages marketed as high-end. Consumers indulging in these drinks aren’t as concerned with calorie restrictions or sugar because they recognise that they are treating themselves to a unique experience. The same can be observed in the spirits and beverage alcohol sectors.
“In the spirits world, amaro, absinthe and other botanical spirits are seeing a renaissance,” said Colin Blake, Director of Spirits Education at Moonshine University, the sister company of the Flavorman Beverage Campus. “These drinks tend to have a distinctive quality due to their balance of bitter and sweet, and they are consumed in very particular ways, usually before or directly following a meal. Consumers in the premium sector have embraced the ritual involved as another way of replicating a bar experience.”
2. Familiar brands
Although many consumers are willing to experiment, there is still a strong appetite for familiar spirit brands. CGA reports that nearly two thirds (63%) of on-premise drinkers agree they would be more likely to try a cocktail if they had heard of the brands that go into it.
“This highlights the need for venues to strike the right balance of new and established brands in their range,” said Graeme Loudon, CGA’s managing director, EMEA & APAC.
3. Twists on classics
Meeting the demands for both experimentation and familiarity can be achieved by providing flavour twists on classic cocktails. Nearly a third (31%) of cocktail consumers told CGA these are their preferred type of drink—even more than those who prefer straightforward classics (30%).
Flavorman adds: “Because premium is also so often associated with quality, ingredients like juice and full sugar are also becoming more popular in beverages marketed as high-end. Consumers indulging in these drinks aren’t as concerned with calorie restrictions or sugar because they recognise that they are treating themselves to a unique experience. The same can be observed in the spirits and beverage alcohol sectors.”
4. Fruity flavours
Consumers’ list of preferred cocktail flavours is topped by strawberry according to CGA. This is typically chosen by 26% of drinkers, putting it just ahead of pineapple, passionfruit and mango (24%).
“But with sharper fruits like lime (22%), apple (20%) and lemon (19%) all in the top ten too, cocktail menus need to cover a lot of flavour bases,” Loudon said.
Flavorman agreed: “In 2022, expect beverage makers to continue emphasizing the presence of familiar flavours in drinks across categories. Childhood favourites like watermelon, strawberry, cherry, apple and grape will see a resurgence as consumers reach for those immediately recognisable and nostalgic profiles.”
Social media has been a driver of cocktails for some time, and more than two in five (41%) consumers now say they take photos of their drinks to share on platforms like Instagram. CGA said this highlights the need for visual as well as flavour appeal, which can be achieved via colour and serve amongst other aspects.
With nearly 30 years in the beverage business and over 70,000 drink formulations, Flavorman compiles this annual cocktail trends summary through examination of beverage projects that have passed through its laboratory over the last 12 months. To learn more, visit flavorman.com.
CGA’s research contains further insights into the cocktail trends market, as well as many more aspects of consumers’ engagement with Australia’s On Premise. To learn more about the exclusive analysis, and how it can support the sales and marketing strategies of all suppliers and operators, click here and contact firstname.lastname@example.org.