We’ve sifted through the wealth of products presented at this year’s Imbibe Live – the must-see trade show for anyone in the world of alcoholic drinks – to identify 6 key trends for innovation. Once again this year’s event brought together a vast array of different companies – big and small – all eager to show off their newest drinks and product ideas: here are the trends we at Brand Genetics think show the way the world is moving.
1. RE-INVENTION OF READY TO DRINKS
The 90’s may be back in fashion but the days of the garish alcopops are long gone. According to Mintel, the ready-to-drink sector was worth £1bn a year in 2005, but has fallen to half that now. But the convenience of RTDs remains, especially with people living ever busier lives – and an up-market re-invention has seen the creation of premium options to appeal to image conscious with more sophisticated cocktails and natural ingredients to the fore.
- FUNKIN COCKTAILS – Funkin claim that they tasted 32 strawberries from 6 different countries before they made their perfect Strawberry Daiquiri…!
- WHITE LYAN – This high end bar in Hoxton has no citrus and no ice – all drinks are pre-mixed. For a cocktail bar that’s pretty much heresy, with 500 bottles of pre-prepared cocktails customers seem to have no such doubts and you can now buy their cocktails in Selfridges
2. UPMARKET MIXERS
As Fever Tree put it – “If 3/4 of your Gin & Tonic is the tonic, make sure you use the best”. As demand for luxury spirits grows – targeting “weekend millionaires” (who want to splash out on the best when they go out), so complementary premium mixers are becoming ever more popular.
- FEVER TREE – Market leaders with their iconic tonic water that is now recommended by brands like Sipsmith to enhance the taste of their gin
- IMBIBERY – In partnership with Belvedere Vodka, this detox/cleanse brand has created an alcoholic drink that is both luxurious and cleansing – the ‘Hail-Mary’ cold-pressed cocktail is made up of beetroot, cucumber, lemone, cayenne pepper and vodka
- PURDEYS – Even Britvic were pushing the use of Purdey’s (their multivitamin fruit drink) as a cocktail mixer (and we have to admit it worked incredibly well)
2. GIN SPREADS ITS WINGS
The rise of gin continues – with a huge range of independent, craft distilleries presenting at Imbibe. Six years ago there were five gin distilleries in the UK, today there are more than 35! Of course competition means everyone needs a unique angle or story to match their product – and increasingly gin is moving beyond the boundaries of London and the UK .
- WEST WINDS – This Australian gin brand seeks to bring the Australian passion for fine wine and food to spirits – their Cutlass variant uses a range of Australian botanicals for a unique flavour (and a great provenance story)
- ELEPHANT GIN – is a style of gin handcrafted in London but made with specific botanical ingredients that capture the essence of Africa. The message is an experience of exploration and discovery, suiting the travellers of today
- PINKSTER – Pinkster gin stands out from the crowd because… well it’s pink! It’s all because they hand-steep fresh, locally grown raspberries to give it a delicately fruity note
4. THE NEW DESSERT
Millenials are no longer pub crawling – they’re now ‘food crawling’. Satisfying their passion for food by spending increasing time and money on dining out. To match this they are seeking original and relevant drinking experiences that complement the food. And hilst food pairing is nothing new – we saw a new emphasison alcoholic options that offered dessert in a glass
- ESPRESSO MARTINI – The ‘daddy’ of dessert cocktails, this seems to be setting the trend for alcoholic desserts: get the party started
- THUNDER TOFFEE VODKA –made with a natural toffee syrup this works well as a lighter alternative to indulging in a hefty pudding
- CANDY SKULL – A new vodka shot experience “with a twist” in which a flavoured vodka shot comes with a complimenting candy ‘after shot’ for a sweet and sensory taste experience
5. ALCOHOLIC TEA
Premium tea sales out of home have been on the rise recently and the market for ready-to-drink tea has also been growing strongly, as well as becoming increasingly diverse. As such tea has never been more on trend – and now seems to have become a key ingredient for a range of new alcoholic drinks:
- TATRATEA – A tea-based herbal liqueur, that originated in the High Tatra Mountains and is now one of Slovakia’s national drinks, Tatratea’s range now includes citrus, coconut and peach flavours
- SWEET SALLY TEA – This range of craft iced teas, has also developed a range of tea cocktails (‘healthier, with less sugar and lots of taste!’) such as Southern Mississippi Mule and Southern Tipsy Tea
- TANG – Bacardi’s a revolutionary tea-distilled spirit is created from green tea leaves and fresh French sprint water. It is targetingthe Chinese Baijiu market
6. “HEALTHY” ALCOHOL
The healthy eating movement is everywhere – you can hardly move for kale, juicers and ‘courgetti’ – and increasingly it’s part of a fashionable lifestyle. While alcohol is may not be good for you, there seems is a distinct shift towards ‘healthier’ alcoholic drinks that target this same audience.
- LOVO – This coconut water based vodka drink contains only 128 calories, with absolutely no refined sugar, artificial colours or flavours – and of course all the positive connotations of coconut water
- LO CA BEV – This science orientated brand focuses on distilling alcohol that is full of flavour, but the “slimmest serving in town” at 46 calories per serve
- SAINT – This light British lager has no sugar and just 99 calories per bottle but still comes in at a full strength 4.6% ABV. So no need to sacrifice strength just because you want to keep the beer belly away
Of course we’ve missed out many great things – from the importance of provenance, bespoke experiences, the role of technology, democratization of mixology, and fun science (from vodka foam, to the amazing Vap Shots) – but we hope the above trends give you a favour of what the future holds for your favourite tipple!
By Anna Mounsey-Heysham