Bartenders say dark rum top spirit to premiumise in 2020

5th February, 2020 by Nicola Carruthers

Dark rum is the spirit most likely to premiumise in 2020, according to bartenders surveyed as part of a new on-trade trends report from Bacardi.

Bacardi has released a cocktail trends report as part of its Back to the Bar initiative

Bermuda-based drinks firm Bacardi has released its new Bacardi 2020 Cocktail Trends Report as part of the third iteration of the group’s Back to the Bar initiative.

The Back to the Bar initiative, which launched in 2018, will see Bacardi’s 7,000 employees across the world visit bars to discover the latest cocktail trends tomorrow (6 February).

The Bacardi 2020 Cocktail Trends Report highlights trends based on insights from a survey Bacardi ran with bartenders and bar ambassadors in 2019, as well as third-party research from a number of leading consumer insights firms.

Bacardi said the trends are “a reflection of what’s creating excitement this year for bartenders and consumers”.

According to Bacardi’s global brand ambassador survey (GBAS) 2019, 43% of bartenders voted dark rum as the spirit that is premiumising the most. It was followed by Tequila (40%), gin (37%), mezcal (29%) and vermouth (21%).

Bacardi said consumers are continuing to drink better and that there is a “stronger desire to try and buy goods that have an interesting story, provenance, craft credentials, and clout”.

According to LWC Drinks UK 2019 statistics cited by the report, there was a 2.5% rise in sales of premium spirits and a 1% drop in standard spirits sales in 2017.

In addition, 47% of consumers currently or would upgrade to a higher quality spirit and mixer in the UK (CGA Mixed Drinks, Q1 2019).

The report also detailed the growing low- and no- alcohol trend, claiming “low-ABV offerings are growing in sophistication and are seen as additions to a bar rather than a replacement for full-strength cocktails”.

Influential bartenders are engaging the most with low-ABV cocktails, the survey noted.

Bitter liqueurs are the spirit attracting the most attention from bartenders globally at 59%, according to GBAS 2019.

The firm said vermouth cocktails were among bartenders’ top five cocktails. In Russia, Spritzes are trending (77%) and are second in Western Europe (48%) after general low-ABV cocktails (50%).

Purpose-driven spirits

Bacardi also cited the demand for “balanced, natural, fresh, and healthy ingredients”.

The report said 62% of US consumers sought natural beverage options (Beverage Industry 2018), while statistics from LCBO in 2018 showed there has been an 18.5% increase in organic spirits sales over the last three years.

Bacardi also noted a move towards exotic ingredients sourced from overseas, as “adventurous” consumers are “uninspired by the status quo”. According to GBAS 2019, zero-waste ingredients (58%) topped the list of top ingredients or mixers of interest for bartenders in North America and the UK. It was followed by ferments (51%), coffee (39%), flavoured tonics (35%), herbal (32%), and aromatic/flavoured bitters (32%).

Bacardi also said the “culinary cocktails trend” is seeing bartenders use “fresh, seasonal, herbal, and savoury ingredients”. According to Tales of the Cocktail 2018 statistics cited by Bacardi, 91% of bartenders are using vegetables in their cocktails.

The ready-to-drink (RTD) category and its premiumisation was also listed as a trend. The survey noted that 39% of bartenders are noticing more G&T RTDs and twists on the G&T in RTD format, while there was a 26% increase in vodka soda and flavoured RTDs in the US.

In addition, Bacardi said home entertainment has become an “increasingly appealing option” and that consumers are seeking “experiences over material goods” such as food and drink festivals and distillery visits.

Bacardi also said consumers are “demanding and expecting brands to be transparent with their supply chain, production process and backstory”.

Furthermore, “purpose-driven” spirits have also come to light as brands make “long-term commitments” to support important issues. The report also said “sustainability is at the forefront of every consumer’s mind” and that the industry has “barely scratched the surface of this movement”.

Fitness has also become a priority for bartenders, with spirits brands “taking responsibility for them and supporting their welfare” through workshops, bootcamps and meditation sessions.

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