2021 Predictions

Alyce Cronk reports the predicted drinks trends for the year 2021.

In 2020 we saw the hospitality industry tackle some of the most challenging times it has ever had to face. Pubs, bars and restaurants endured intermittent closures for the best part of the year, ultimately creating unforeseen pressure and a sense foreboding for every industry sector. Plans and predicted trends changed drastically to fit in with government guidelines, with ready-to-serve and cocktails at home being at the forefront of changes in the hospitality industry, which is set to continue into 2021. Becky Davies, Head of Commercial at Ten Locks, identifies how mixology and at-home cocktail creation will prevail.

“Some bars and restaurants have nailed their offering, and been creative in how they present and deliver at-home drinks experiences which have worked on switching consumers on to the role drinks created by experts can play in their leisure time. We expect this to cement the popularity of cocktails at home in the longer term and beyond the pandemic’s constraints.

We know many spirits brands have been hit by pub and bar closures and lockdown restrictions, so at-home cocktails is an opportunity for niche products and premium spirits to steal share from more mainstream brands, by offering something out of the ordinary, and to bring excitement and enjoyment to at-home drinking occasions.”

Banhez Mezcals is a brilliant example of a premium cocktail led spirit that will credibly sit at the heart of simple serve drink offerings, working to bring consumers into a sector that will grow in the year ahead. Produced at a family and farmer-owned cooperative, the members work together to make sustainable, fair trade Mezcal as their ancestors have done for generations. From sowing agave seeds to bottling each expression, every step in the process is completed by a Banhez family member of the co-op. Banhez has been welcomed into the Ten Locks portfolio and is the perfect introduction into the mezcal category. It’s a brilliant option for cocktail development and expertly positioned to be a popular choice in the UK and grow further interest in mezcal. 

The growing appetite for agave spirits is set to continue into 2021, with consumers driving the force behind the increasing popularity for tequila and mezcal. Over the past four or five years, the demand has shown a shift globally towards brands that represent craft and quality, with both tequila and mezcal being a perfect fit due to the history, heritage, sustainability, and craft intrinsic to both segments. Along with consumer education, this is positively influencing tequila and mezcal brands across the board, paving the way for big business in the year ahead.

El Tequileño has gained a reputation for creating exquisite tequilas through its dedication to craft and quality while using sustainable practices that will keep its 60-year old distillery active for generations. This includes harvesting only the finest blue agave from the premium growing region-Los Altos de Jalisco, locally sourcing the mineral-rich volcanic spring water from El Volcan de Tequila before distilling in copper pot stills. 

“The drinks industry is capable of being an incredible force for good, with some brands already leading the way in terms of ethical and sustainable practices or being exemplary in how they do business.” Explains Becky Davies. “El Tequileño is doing a great job in ensuring their story is told, engaging the trade in the virtues of tequila. Our conversations with bartenders reveal this to be one of the spirit brands they have been trying to get their hands on for some time – especially the Blanco. We see real promise for the brand as the trade can tap into increasing consumer appetite for tequila and unlock the potential of a sector that’s showing momentum.”      

Simpler serves that can be easily poured, mixed and presented are becoming a ‘go-to’ for bartenders. Tricky operating conditions drive this, the need to keep queues to a minimum, table-based service and less time at the bar to sell drinks with more complexity all playing a part. Finding the ideal range that meets a variety of customer needs is a must, stocking up on versatile spirits that can be offered as a standalone sipping drink, with a good quality mixer, or within a premixed cocktail, can help to drive new custom and encourage repeat purchase at a time when every sale is paramount. 

The rum revolution will continue to reign supreme in 2021 and will continue to show exponential growth driven by expressions and flavour profiles. Spiced rum captured consumer interest in a big way in 2020, with Captain Morgan’s Gingerbread Spiced Rum tapping into the demand for new flavours and seasonal preferences. 

Rums from Salford Rum Company take inspiration from the imports of rum and world spices that came through Salford’s docks in the 1900s – the rums are still distilled, blended and bottled locally by creators Tommy Gaughan and James Harrison in the shadows of the old Salford Docks. 

The Salford Spiced Rum Company was created as a tribute to the workers who were the beating heart of the city’s great dock during the 1800s and 1900s. It’s produced in small batches, column distilled in the shadows of old Salford Docks, and expertly infused with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and dried Caribbean fruits. Tommy Vaughan, the co-founder of The Salford Rum Company, explains how drinkers are choosing premium products of distinction.

“Spiced rum has undergone somewhat of a renaissance, up over 20 percent in volume terms in recent months, with drinkers turning away from lower-quality liquids. This will sustain into next year and post Covid-19, as consumers have a taste for higher quality drinks at home and want to try new things as they naturally go out less. In the long run, we hope that the appetite we’re seeing for spiced rum in the off-trade will translate into even more energy for the sector when the on trade is in full swing.”

Salford Dark Spice is the second addition to the Salford family and is inspired by the original rums unloaded into Salford Docks during its heyday. Dark Spice blends specially selected rums from Barbados, with a distinct spice blend that echoes flavours of vanilla, coconut, burnt caramel and cloves.

Nusa Caña brings a new fresh perspective to rum with its unique production methods, using tropical white rum distilled on Java and fermented with molasses, local water, and red rice cakes, before being distilled twice in steel Chinese pot stills. Nusa Caña uses bottles that are 100 per cent recyclable, including its labels made from recycled sugarcane pulp, tapping into the demand for sustainability and ethical practices.

Although rum is set to lead the hospitality industry through 2021, the demand for new and innovative gin brands and flavour profiles is as prominent as ever. Handcrafted to reflect the soils from the Australian landscape, Applewood Gin has the rare status of Certified B Corporation, indicating its dedication to the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.

“Applewood Gin is completely new to the UK market, and has already earned its place as the most premium gin in Australia.” Explains Ten Locks spokesperson, Becky Davies. “It is unique in its industry-leading sustainability credentials and its taste owing to its botanical-rich profile of rare desert limes, wattleseed and peppermint gum leaf amongst 20 fresh and sustainably farmed ingredients.”

With Covid restrictions still firmly in place, the need to continue to work flexibly is more significant than ever. Adapting to the needs of the trade and ensuring offerings continues to provide real value, both in terms of its appeal to the consumer and the bartender is essential.

Giuseppe Galo, CEO and founder of Italicus, recognises that the demand for digital entertainment from brands and venues will continue to rise well into the new year.

“There’s no doubt that we are looking forward to getting back into venues, but whilst normality still a little while away, digital drinking occasions are set to soar. They swiftly became a reality last year; brands, venues, and bartenders offer more online masterclasses and events to cater to this shift in behaviour. The atmosphere and environment in a bar will never compare or be replaced by a digital environment. Still, once normality resumes, as social beings, we’ll return to bars and restaurants as we did before.”

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