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Quarter of Europeans favour cocktails

More than a quarter of consumers in 11 European markets choose to drink cocktails on a night out, led by Italians and their love of aperitivos.

Aperol Spritz cocktail
The Aperol Spritz is becoming well-known across Europe’s on-trade

According to CGA’s Cocktails in Europe report, mixed drinks remain in high demand across the continent as venues reopened.

Data from 11 markets across Europe, accompanied by sales data in France, Great Britain and Ireland, found that 28% of visitors to the on-trade choose to consume cocktails. CGA said this figure is notably higher than the global average of 25% recorded across all 25 markets in CGA’s international research.

Top of the list is Italy, with 36% of consumers drinking cocktails, led by aperitivos. More than a quarter of Italian consumers choose aperitivo or vermouth serves, while the Aperol Spritz is the country’s most popular cocktail (73%).

The famed Italian serve was also the most ubiquitous cocktail in all of the countries surveyed by CGA, beating the likes of Brazil’s Caipirinha (consumed by 72% of Brazilian cocktail drinkers), the Daiquiri in Argentina (67%) and Mexico’s Tequila-based Margarita (66%).

Aperol is also popular in countries such as France, where it doubled its share of on-trade spirits between 2020 and 2021, CGA revealed.

Furthermore, cachaça – the key ingredient in Caipirinhas – recorded the strongest performance of all spirits in France in May and June 2021, recouping 118% of its previous share of spirits sales, well ahead of whisky (73%) and vodka (75%).

“Our research shows just how deeply cocktails are embedded in the cultures of many European countries,” said Graeme Loudon, CGA managing director, EMEA and APAC.

“Lockdowns around the continent have reminded people that the on-premise delivers a cocktail experience that just can’t be achieved at home, and we have seen them flocking back to the category as markets reopen.

“It’s also interesting to see how specific cocktails have become synonymous with the on-premise in many markets, and these drinks are increasingly exported as well. The Caipirinha from Brazil is now the most popular cocktail in Germany for example, and the Aperol Spritz has fanned out across Europe.

“Consumers’ global mindsets mean they are more open than ever to cocktails from other cultures, and operators need to carefully signpost these cosmopolitan options, while using twists and signature serves to appeal to drinkers who want to experiment.”

After Italy, Switzerland, Mexico and Russia all recorded a third of consumers favouring mixed drinks.

In comparison, Great Britain was in the bottom five of cocktail-drinking markets with 20% of on-trade consumers, placing it above only Thailand, Argentina and South Korea in the 25-market survey. The Netherlands recorded 23% of drinkers choosing cocktails on a night out, while the US saw a quarter of consumers select mixed drinks.

Most popular cocktail

Meanwhile, the Mojito remains the most popular cocktail across Europe’s bars, with 48% of consumers choosing the rum-based serve. Seven out of the 11 European markets favoured the cocktail, with more than 50% of drinkers in Switzerland, France, Poland, Belgium and Russia choosing the Mojito.

A younger audience tends to drink cocktails, CGA found, with 39% of 18 to 34-year-olds consuming them while out – three times higher than people aged 55 or over. CGA said social media is an important channel to attract young adults.

In addition, half of all cocktail drinkers across Europe expect to up their frequency of visits to the on-trade in the next 12 months.

The quality of the drink was the most important factor for cocktail consumers, which CGA believes will enable the growth of the premium and super-premium segments of the market.

Two in five spirits drinkers (39%) said it is now more vital that the drinks they choose are high quality – 8% more than the general European population.

Of these drinkers, 46% said they always look to try new and different drinks brands when out, higher than the all-consumer average of 33%.

CGA added that the cocktail sector faces the challenge of ‘serious rival’ hard seltzer, which could attract health-conscious drinkers.

“The cocktail market is one of the most dynamic parts of the on-premise all around Europe, and there is significant reward for brands and bars that can provide the right experiences,” added Loudon.

“To do that, operators and suppliers will need to work together to understand the subtle but crucial changes in consumer habits since markets reopened and take a hyper-local approach to curating the right range of spirits and cocktails for each outlet.

“The only constant in the cocktail category is change – but for businesses that stay on top of trends and get the offer right, there is a lot to look forward to.”

According to data from CGA, the Covid-19 pandemic cost the UK hospitality sector £100.2 billion (US$140bn) in trading since the start of the crisis.

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