Finest Call’s 2016 Cocktail Trends Forecast
By Claire Dodd
From the growing importance of regional flavors, to the increasing desire to pair cocktails with food – mixer brand ‘Finest Call’ has predicted the top cocktail trends for 2016…
Radius attended a presentation by the bartender-friendly brand recently, where it revealed the results of its latest survey. Finest Call polled its on-trade brand team to find out the key trends from the bar floor, so to speak.
Data collected by Finest Call and UK distributor Cellar Trends suggests that cocktails will account for 10% of spirit sales in the UK by 2020, while the premixed cocktail market will be worth £500 million by 2018.
European brand manager, Steve Dingley, said: “Sourcing trends like this is hugely important to us as a company. With consumers becoming more knowledgeable about what they are drinking, it’s vital that on-trade locations are serving their cocktails in a quick and consistent way.
“Finest Call Premium Cocktail Mixes allows venues the chance to maximise their offering and with the pre-mixed category set for growth, we believe that we are about to see a strong increase in bars adding a varied cocktail menu.”
Finest Call expects cocktail consumption with food to increase, with 50% of existing cocktail drinkers saying they are willing to enjoy their favorite cocktail in restaurants. Though only 20% of on-trade outlets currently serve cocktails, Finest Call predicts cocktails to become more mainstream with more outlets adopting pre-made or pre-mixes to cope with demand. But a sign that the on-trade is not yet fully geared up to cope with the growing demand for cocktails, is that 87% of drinkers say they are keen on a more consistent experience when ordering a cocktail.
One mega-trend we see in many of the predictions made by Finest Call, is the growing influence of increased consumer knowledge, upon their purchasing decisions. Drinkers are now keen to know exactly what is going into their cocktails, and are interested in the details of the drinks bars put together, from how old a scotch is, to the effect of different woods on liquids, to even which specific region a tequila was sourced from. Increased consumer sophistication will be a key driver of all cocktail serve trends going forward.
Here are Finest Call’s top cocktail trends for 2016.
Back To Basics
Prohibition era cocktails have ruled the roost in fine cocktail bars for the last few years, but the popularity of the classics isn’t over yet. However the majority of drinkers are looking for the mainstays, such as the mojito, done well, or even with a twist. A classic vodka tonic, for example can be elevated with a high-quality flavored vodka, and matching garnish. However achieving consistent quality is key if outlets are just offering the basics.
The likes of gels, foams, powders, atomizers and smoked spirits have enjoyed a lengthy hey-day in high-end bars, with experimentalism peaking over the past few years. But Finest Call perceives that these trends are gradually filtering down into the mainstream. Expect more products to be targeted at facilitating the easy production of such drinks for busy or less-skilled bar teams.
Regional Inspired Cocktails
British Classics, Asian, Caribbean, whatever the region, drinkers are looking for regionally inspired drinks made using authentic ingredients, according to Finest Call. Though the pre-mix brand only talked of global inspiration, we see the trend performing on a micro-level too, with consumers seeking out drinks inspired by or using ingredients from their local area.
Drinkers are looking to expand their repertoire, and are willing to be introduced to niche spirits, in cocktails they have never tried before. This willingness is seeing spirits like Pisco, Cachaca, Mezcal, and Digestives such as Amaros and Bitters coming to the fore, with an increase in serves making use of the spirits.
Anything that marks a venue out as unique, is a big attraction to consumers. From the use of vegetables and shrubs, to dried and smoked fruit, unusual ingredients that create a talking point or are particular to an outlet, will become more widespread.
Low Calorie Cocktails
The war on sugar when it comes to soft drinks, has not gone unnoticed by drinkers, who have become accustomed to which drinks at the bar offer them the lowest calorie intake. With purchasing decisions being based on the lightest drink available, cocktail brands, cocktail mixers and bars offering mixed drinks will need to develop low calorie options to please consumers not willing to always stick to a vodka tonic and to encourage them to drink across the range.
Aperitif Based Cocktails
The Aperitif trend has been booming among more knowledgeable consumers for some time. But Finest Call is tipping the trend to go mainstream in the next year. Consumers are increasingly seeking out spirit-heavy cocktails with less fruit and sweet ingredients, meaning that back-bar staples such as Amaro, will come into their own.
Accessible and fun, ‘disco cocktails’ in bright colors, from a Sex on the Beach to a Blue Lagoon, are hard to resist. Consumers still love these drinks, but a revival led by high-end bars searching for the next Tiki trend, has imbibers accepting nothing but the best quality, whether the drink seems frivolous or not. Expect more high-end bars to reinterpret these dance floor classics.
From gin infusions to barrel aging, drinkers want individuality and quality from their drinks. Homemade ingredients offer interesting flavor combinations, as well as demonstrating that the bar has expertise, and giving the consumer a reassurance of quality.
Glassware that evokes a sense of luxury, or vessels that add a sense theater still have the power to stop drinkers in their tracks, and make them utter, “I’ll have one of those”. Get it right and the rewards can be big. Absolut seems to have single handedly started a trend for golden pineapples with its signature serve for Absolut Elyx. See our recent feature on glassware for more brand activity. But when it comes to the on-premise, the more creative an outlet is, the more it will benefit from social media marketing from snap-happy drinkers. After all, drinkers consume cocktails with their eyes as well as lips in our camera-phone age.