Ten years ago, cocktail making was a trade speciality reserved only for trained bartenders and consumed only on special occasions. However, times are changing and consumers’ appetite for cocktail education has grown significantly.They are hungrier than ever.
Within the last five years the cocktail revolution has been strong within the on-trade which has naturally built up knowledge and intrigue among consumers yet they have also been influenced and encouraged by common culture, brands and retailers.
As consumers gain more knowledge on key ingredients, methods and mixes, the on-trade has been prompted to adapt to suit higher expectations, so much so, that the cocktail- consumer model is experiencing a period of rapid change.
Popular programmes such as Sex and the City and Mad Men have exposed and enthralled consumers to the glamour and sophistication of cocktail culture as they become a desirable and glamorous choice for women and men for both work and play. Retailers are also influencing. Sainsbury’s new cocktail fascias provide ingredients, tips and bar equipment on the beer, wine and spirits aisle all in one place, encouraging consumers to experiment with cocktail making. Likewise brands such as Absolut have created cocktail apps such as
Drinkspiration which provide ingredients, video demos and recipe suggestions. Cross-category promotions are also contributing to the rise in cocktail education.“Mixxit done by Maxxium” for example helps consumers experiment with various cocktail mixes while offering methods and tips to concoct cocktails to suit all occasions.
Increased cocktail education is significantly affecting consumer behaviour in the on-trade. They are making more sophisticated choices and have higher expectations of the cocktail experience.
The immediate effect is that more mainstream jugged cocktails may suffer, and bars may also lose out on pre-dinner cocktails which can now be done in the home.This in turn is leading bartenders and mixologists to push cocktail making further into the possibilities of innovation, driving an element of professional service and experience that cannot be replicated in the home.These include quirky and theatrical cocktail presentation and creative serves in ornate vessel glasses using exotic ingredients.
Bars must remember that the key to retaining consumers is to drive new trends through introducing innovative ways to drink cocktails that cannot be replicated in the home while creating excitement and intrigue.