Cocktail trends

According to the World Class Future of Cocktails Report 2016, there will be an extra 400 million new luxury spirits consumers by 2020. While in the past cocktails have been enjoyed by Europeans and Americans, the industry is stretching its global footprint: in the past five years, consumption of spirits has shot up by 26% in Africa and the Middle East, 15% across Asia and 22% in China.


These are a number of consumer evolutions driving the development of the trade – from the collective shift from local attitudes to global concerns, and a significant move from brand loyalty to promiscuity.


In addition, geopolitical turbulence and the rise of connectivity have resulted in a consumer desire for “authenticity” and a growing culture of protest and activism.


How will these play out in global cocktail culture and across the on-trade? Read on for World Class and The Future Laboratory’s forecasts for the Future of Cocktails.


What do you think? What will be the biggest cocktail and on-trade trends of 2017? Let us know in the comments below.


In line with the “opinionated backlash” consumer culture, brands are embracing their own “backlash” and are no longer trying to please all the people all of the time, the report notes.


What does this look like for cocktails? Expect provocative theatre to prevail – think: disturbing design flourishes and tongue-in-cheek drink names – while “propaganda booze” is likely to become more common. One example is Ilegal Mezcal’s campaign in New York, Miami and Los Angeles labelling US presidential candidate Donald Trump a pendejo – or asshole.


Cocktail bars are evolving on their own terms, too. Dead Ringer in Sydney has rejected the cocktail menu concept completely, notes the report, and instead opting to offer big batches of single cocktails made from fresh, seasonal ingredients – which they may never repeat again.


The cocktail menu itself is also gaining in importance, according to the report. Rather than a simple book, bartenders are unleashing their creativity – expect menus to come into their own.


The takeaways? Ignore the rules, challenge the audience, and make your point of view – political or otherwise – a point of difference.


As consumers become ever more brand-promiscuous, yet at the same time increasingly place importance on experiences, the emotional economy will come to the fore.


Consumers will look for emotional simulation, and bars are using everything from colour to clever ingredients selection, to tap into all things sensorial and emotive.


Take Seymour’s Parlour in London: the team is using scents such as cut grass and smoked pine to tap into pleasurable and nostalgic memories, says the report. Expect the mood dining, such as the Serotonin eatery in Melbourne, to expand into bars as well.


To tap into the trend, bars can use sights and smell to direct drinkers’ emotions, while harnessing tech and ingredients can help directly affect people’s moods. And don’t forget to ensure the cocktail menu is ordered according to emotional response.


From globalisation to the more connected world, we are all taking a fresh look at how they identify in terms of where we live and the culture we live in. Consumers want to explore heritage with integrity and honestly – so brands need to move beyond traditional identifiers of race, country of origin and gender, the report notes.


Produce and raw ingredients are one way bars can give patrons the opportunity to learn about different cultures. In addition, “fluid bars” – i.e., where bar talent crosses over with different sectors, for example chefs and food, will come to the fore.


The industry’s evolution from being a male-centric environment to a gender-neutral is key to this – and brands need to make sure they move on from stereotypes and only marketing to a single gender, too.


Key to successfully achieving this is removing all traditional identifiers to describe a customer – be it citizenship, language, religion, age, nationality, location, gender – and focus on a more personal approach.


Celebrating ‘local heroes’ is also central to this trend, says the report. Bars should invest in local talent, hiring and training accordingly.