Diageo’s The Future of Drinks trends session at its World Class global bartending finals in Berlin earlier this week predicted that low and no alcohol alternatives would continue to grow, with younger consumers driving the change.
Hosted by Diageo’s Lauren Mote, who holds the title of global cocktailian, a panel of leading bar world figures discussed what the drinks world would look like in 2019, concluding that the low-ABV and no alcohol cocktail movement will increasingly shape the bar world.
Moreover, it’s a trend that is reflected across all alcoholic drinks categories, with lower and no alcohol beers and wines also increasingly in demand.
But cocktails lead the way, with almost a quarter of American’s choosing to drink cocktails on a night out and Brits not far behind, with a fifth of adults in the UK also opting for cocktails (Nielsen and CGA figures for 2016 and 2018 respectively).
What is most notable, though, is the differing consumption habits of the younger demographic, with 46% of people under the age of 35 likely to order a mocktail (non-alcoholic cocktail), versus just 16% of over-35’s.
And these health-aware drinkers are demanding a level of quality and flavour in their drinks to match those made with full strength premium alcoholic spirits, to which the hospitality sector necessarily needs to respond to keep its customers flowing in through the door.
Claire Smith Warner, head of new brands at Seedlip, a distilled non-alcoholic spirit at the forefront of the trend, revealed that the brand and its variants are now listed by over 100 Michelin star restaurant, plus top bars around the world, and that this first-out-of-the-gate quality alternative continues to grow sales fast.
“Socialising should be about inclusivity, not segregation, and focus on flavour and produce. It’s not about replacing alcoholic cocktails altogether; it’s about bartenders experimenting and adding more low and no-ABV options to their repertoire,” said Smith Warner.
Other key findings discussed by the panel included the need for bar staff to step up to the opportunities and challenges presented by what were described as ‘drinkstagrammers’ – customers that want a good looking drink and experience to share on social media.
Sustainability was described as the third big trend, as consumers increasingly seek to spend with a view to social responsibility. A Neilsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report poll found that 73% of millennials expressed a willingness to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand.
Diageo’s The Future of Drinks trends session and World Class Bartender of the Year finals took place earlier this week, just ahead of Bar Convent in Berlin, and crowned London bar Dandelyan as the World’s Best Cocktail Bar.