Patrón producer Bacardi has picked artificial intelligence (AI) and ‘escapism’ drinks as the cocktail trends to watch in the year ahead.
Bacardi’s fifth annual Cocktail Trends Report, created in partnership with The Future Laboratory (TFL), outlined five points to look out for in 2024, in regards to cocktail culture.
For one, the report noted that consumers are tending to veer towards higher-quality spirits or a ‘less but better approach to imbibing’, as premiumisation continues to grow. Of those surveyed, 70% would pay more for quality spirits. Agave spirits were said to lead the premiumisation trend, and Tequila and mezcal were also cited as the spirit categories that bartenders are most interested in using.
Furthermore, in spite of Dry January’s stagnation, drinkers are still seeking non-alcoholic alternatives all year around and bartenders are working to meet to this demand – repositioning no-and-low cocktails as ‘creating’ rather than ‘comprising’ the future cocktail experience.
Marine Rozenfeld, Bacardi’s head of innovation, Western Europe, said: “The arrival of generation moderation has transformed cocktail menus – [no-and-low] drinks are now the equal of classic cocktails in looks, quality and taste.”
The report entailed that 30% of younger respondents in France, Germany, Tokyo and Canada (as well as 25% in the US) were wanting to drink more no- and low-alcohol cocktails in 2024.
Additionally, innovation will also take precedence, as brands and distillers play around with different methods of ageing and create ‘unique’ flavour profiles.
Escapism is predicted to play a big part in future consumer choices too, with people taking to sundowner cocktails like Spritzes and European flavours that transport them to beach destinations or evoke memories of summer holidays.
Other trends to note include consumers being more mindful of eco-friendly practices and their relationships with the planet, with bartenders and brands following suit. The Bacardi Global Consumer Survey 2023 reported that 44% of consumers in Canada and 43% of younger respondents in the US intend to consume more cocktails made with natural ingredients in 2024.
Advancements in technology such as AI could shape the ‘where’ and ‘how’ people drink, with consumers increasingly ‘seeking personalised brand interaction’ and AI ‘introducing exciting opportunities for tailored cocktail experiences’.
And finally, the report also highlighted that 43% of surveyed bartenders placed zero-waste ingredients at the top of their experimentation priorities, 52% said reducing single-use plastic would be a top sustainably theme, and that eight in 10 of younger respondents (from the US, Germany, Singapore, Spain and South Africa) would explore AI-recommended drinks. On that last note, however, 60% also said they would miss the human interaction of ordering a cocktail.
Brenda Fiala, global vice-president of strategy, insights and analytics at Bacardi, commented: “As 2024 arrives, people are looking to settle into the unsettled – welcoming tastes of optimism into our reality. In this landscape, people are reshaping cocktail culture, infusing it with fresh perspectives and finding memorable experiences back at the bar with friends.
“From redefining moderate drinking to a surge in sustainable attitudes, Bacardi is at the forefront, championing a world where people-driven cocktail culture thrives through innovation, experimentation, and overall better moments.”
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Author: Rupert Hohwieler