This Friday, May 13, is World Cocktail Day, an international cause to celebrate the wonderful world of cocktails both inside and outside the home.

Considering the current home cocktail movement, this year’s occasion offers retailers the opportunity to excite customers about their own mixology skills – after all, consumers are exploring unique beverages more than ever through the off-premise.

Local distiller Starward has certainly noticed this, and has positioned its popular Two-Fold double grain whisky to cater to such curious consumers.

“We know that many of our consumers love to mix and get experimental to create their own flavour adventure,” said Brendan Moynihan, Starward’s Marketing Director.

For those without much mixology confidence or skills, bottled or canned cocktails are also a good choice to celebrate World Cocktail Day with high quality and interesting drinks. For example, Starward has its own line of bottled cocktails, while Global Endeavours Australia (GEA) has recently brought the Batched Premium Cocktails range to the country. Meanwhile, on the canned frontier, Bacardi-Martini Australia has noticed great results for its canned cocktail-style RTD, Bacardí Mojito.

Maurice Melis, CEO of GEA, explained what drives the appeal for these types of beverages and said: “Bottled cocktails take all the inconvenience out of bar quality cocktails, allowing you to spend that precious time on what matters most and with the people around you, not to mention impressing them with being the ultimate host!”

Cocktails done ‘better’

The industry often cycles through cocktail trends, but the appetite for certain types of cocktails is also driven by macro drinks industry trends, such as the general move to become a more conscious consumer.

Olivia Waters, Brand Manager at Stuart Alexander and Co., the distributor of Peachtree, said one area of cocktail consciousness right now is health.

“We know that almost 50 per cent of Australian drinkers now actively moderate their alcohol intake and are looking for ‘better for you’ options, but most sweet cocktails are high in alcohol or calories,” said Waters.

Fever-Tree Brand Ambassador, Trish Brew, said a good solution to support shoppers trying to make more conscious choices is to advise of ingredient swaps they can make to level up their cocktail game to better suit their lifestyle. Brew’s example was about the most Googled cocktail of 2021, the Margarita, altered to contain just the tequila and a ‘better for you’ soda.

“With the ever-growing health-conscious consumer looking for simple-to-make yet complex in flavour cocktails, our answer to this trend is the ‘skinny marg’ utilising the Fever-Tree Lime & Yuzu Soda,” Brew explained.

Another element of consciousness for cocktail consumers is the environment, according to Bacardi-Martini Brand Ambassador, Joey Chisholm.

“Opting for spirits that are distilled in a more sustainable way is another way consumers can be more mindful with their choices, as society becomes more aware of environmental impacts and their own carbon footprint,” Chisholm said.

Showcasing staples

While there are almost endless possibilities on what products to hero around World Cocktail Day, a good place to start is the staples of the home bar.

On a mixer front, there is the need for a high quality soda and tonic, especially one that pairs well with the customer’s favourite spirit. On top of this, its recommended to have some key secondary ingredients that help tie together drinks, as well as fresh garnishes on hand.

One suggestion is from Waters, who said: “Quality sugar and agave syrups can also make a big difference on flavour in building cocktails.”

Moynihan added: “Great quality bitters always add balance and complexity to cocktails, binding all ingredients together.”

As for spirits, most producers recommended something that is great for mixing in trending cocktails, that suits customer taste preferences and that also pairs well for the season.

For right now, Chisholm said: “As the weather begins to cool down, I think leaning towards dark, rich and bold spirits will always be more enticing.”

In-store theatrics

World Cocktail Day might not be the biggest drinks event on the calendar, but it is a chance to bring a bit of theatrics back in-store, which is sure to help lift people’s spirits (literally) as
the pandemic continues to make an impact.

Brew suggested making things easy for customers and showing them that good quality cocktails are within reach.

“Retailers can get customers excited about World Cocktail Day by providing simple cocktail solutions in-store,” she said.

Waters also recommended this, because “cocktail culture is booming right now and consumers are looking for new simple recipes that they can easily create themselves at home.”

She said visibility of these serves can be done through in-store tastings, recipe cards or neck tags, and boosted online via social media with recipe and masterclass sharing.

Moynihan believes this online opportunity is a good one and said: “Data has shown that the appetite for cocktails is strong, so it is worthwhile making the most of this to partner with a brand like Starward and explore cocktail bundles or ambassador demonstrations in-store.”

If you’re stuck, try working with suppliers on ways you can highlight the benefit of different cocktails or ingredients.

Because as Chisholm summarised: “We, as consumers, love convenience so thinking of ways to save time will always be a successful route.”

Trending cocktails of 2022

According to the producers of this story, the top five most sought after cocktails for consumers in Australia at the moment include:

  • Margarita
  • Espresso Martini
  • Gin or Whisky Sour
  • Spritzes
  • Negroni

Catch more of this story, including suggested serves and products, in the April issue of National Liquor News.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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