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The Future of Cocktails - Consumer Trends

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The world will have 400m new luxury spirits consumers by 2020, according to a new report from Diageo.

Former Diageo World Class winner Tim Phillips pours a cocktail

Former Diageo World Class winner Tim Phillips pours a cocktail

The Future of Cocktails, which was produced as part of the firm's bartender competition World Class, said cocktail culture has spread beyond the traditional confines of New York and London. In the past five years, the firm said, consumption of spirits has risen by 26% in Africa and the Middle East, 15% across Asia and 22% in China. 

"Cocktails are leading the way on a global scale with bartenders experimenting with ingredients and playing with technologies to satisfy the senses," Diageo said. "But in a world where we are constantly looking for the next big thing, they need to be one step ahead of the game."

The report, compiled in conjunction with consultancy The Future Laboratory, highlighted several key trends:

Controversy Cocktails

  • "Forward-thinking bar owners are ditching the traditional rules and reclaiming their creativity," Diageo said. Bartenders are more willing to voice opinions and are giving up on trying to please all of the people, all of the time
  • Bartenders are adding theatre to the bar experience in an effort to leave an impression on consumers
  • Cocktail menus are evolving beyond traditional cocktail names. Bars such as Trick Dog in San Francisco are using more conceptual descriptions such as astrological signs and Pantone colours.

Emotional Cocktails

  • The report highlights a move by consumers to value experiences over possessions. Bartenders are looking to establish ever-more innovative ways to connect with drinkers
  • "In the next decade, look out for bars that ditch the traditional menus and list their cocktails by mood instead. Drinks will be tailored to conjure a specific emotion - you may be given a red cocktail to stimulate confidence, a yellow one for friendship or a black drink for discipline."
  • Senses such as sight and smell also play a part in creating cocktail experiences
  • Cocktails are also being used to tell stories, the report said.

Fluid Identity

  • This trend links to the concept of 'borderless' citizens who live outside the country in which they were born and define themselves instead by lifestyle or music tastes, for example
  • In the bar world, this means catering for drinkers who reject conformity, Diageo said. "Bartenders are now using 'gender neutral' language to describe, name and serve cocktails"
  • Bartending is also now more widely accepted as a career and not 'just a job'
  • Bartenders are often multi-skilled, with functions including chef, barista and patissier.

"Cocktails have evolved far beyond their classic form of a mixed liquid in a glass," said Tom Savigar, senior partner, The Future Laboratory. "Creative bar staff equipped with the latest ingredients, technologies and ideas are changing the whole concept of the cocktail - and leaving us all thirsty for what comes next."

Visit theworldclassclub.com to read the full report.


Sectors: Spirits, The on-trade

Companies: Diageo

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