The art of mixology has more than ever found its way into the homes of Australian drinkers, writes Jenny Tran, Senior Associate Consultant, IRI.

Cocktails: a liquid art form and now a home revolution. Nowadays, more and more Australians are turning to their own kitchens instead of the bar to satisfy their cocktail needs. With glass spirits MAT dollar growth at 13.8 per cent and mixers at eight per cent vs. YA, it is evident the art of mixology has made its mark in Australian homes, and with constant innovations, show little sign of slowing down, even during a pandemic.

Arguably, the starting point of this revolution was the gin and tonic and its popularity has shown constant growth over the years. By maximising and maintaining momentum through innovation, gin and tonic has managed to consistently grow and evolve to premiumise the category. Products like Gordon’s Pink Gin, Four Pillars Shiraz Gin and craft botanical gins bring innovation to the category to create a ‘ginsperience’ that keeps consumers engaged through exploration. Consumers are also willing to spend more on their tonic experience and elevate their cocktail. This is evident with Fever-Tree experiencing strong growth (+128.7 per cent, dollar growth YA, MAT) despite a 13-times price premium over Private Label.

From this, consumers have learnt to embrace the ‘Minimalist’ cocktail. The idea of cocktails with four ingredients or less has brought back to life classics like the Aperol Spritz, vodka sodas and Negroni. The glass spirits and mixers categories are taking advantage of this opportunity and using the lessons from gin and tonic to innovate and grow. In spirits, Aperol and Campari rebranded to own summer with spritz cocktails and became Instragrammable sensations. Spiced rum (predicted to be the next spirits boom) also jumping on the cocktail occasion with brands like Untold, where the recipe is designed by skilled bartenders. In mixers, Schweppes released a signature series infused with exotic ingredients; and in the UK, Coca-Cola released the signature mixer series dedicated to dark spirits. There are also now brands like Secco and New York Cocktail Infusion, which provide a ‘Ready to Make’ offering, which involves spices and dried fruit for consumers to infuse into their drinks, further elevating the cocktail experience.

The innovations are endless and other categories are jumping on board and embracing the cocktail revolution. RTD craft brands such as Lexington Hill, Dr Onyx and Everleigh Bottling Co bring classic cocktails that can be only found in bars into the homes. With the cocktail revolution, RTD is taking the opportunity to premiumise the category by using signature packaging and box sets to stand out with a luxurious feel.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the cocktail revolution has become even more relevant with brands marketing specifically around COVID, like Johnnie Walker and its ‘Kitchen Sink Drinks’ platform. Despite the lack of social and celebratory occasions as a result of social restrictions, Glass Spirits’ dollar has grown at 23.6 per cent and Mixers at 12.9 per cent during the lockdown period (Mar-Jun 2020 v YA). This demonstrates Australians are embracing the new normal and becoming their own bartenders. It will be interesting to see if these growth trends from the cocktail revolution will continue when Australians get back to a restriction free lifestyle, this is something we will have to wait and see.

Source: IRI Market Edge. Australia Liquor Weighted. MAT to 05/07/2020 v YA.

This article was originally published in the September issue of National Liquor News, which can be read in full online here.

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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