The Future of Drinks: 2020 trends

With innovation, fresh thinking, and new tastes and trends constantly emerging from the dynamic food and drink industry, 2020 is no exception. There is a broader selection of drinks - more than ever before! This is pushing people to think carefully about the whole drinking experience; what they’re drinking and where they are drinking it. They are looking for venues that offer them more than just a beer or a cocktail but something that’s going to be more of an experience, whether it be the food, the style of drink they’re drinking or the atmosphere.

So, what does 2020 look like for drinks trends?

Quality over quantity

A key market trend that’s been growing in the drinks industry is consumers ‘drinking less but drinking better quality’ drinks and there are no signs of this stopping. As consumers are becoming more interested in age and origin, drinks such as luxury rum are expected to remain popular. Found on almost every drinks menu, rum is well-loved within the UK. With this in mind, and the knowledge that consumers are starting to care more about quality over cost, big brands are re-focusing on launching premium versions of popular drinks. Consumers today are quite excited about trying new things and learning about new food and beverage experiences, so brands will continue launching premium drinks.

Note to venues: Be careful not to get lost in premium drinks and forget about the original favourites or the stuff that’s always going to be there. They will always work as your base, and then you can increase your offering or your range.

Innovative flavours

Not only are consumers willing to pay more for quality drink, they are also happy to pay more for drinks which have innovative and complex tastes. One drink that was a hit in 2019, and will remain a contender for 2020, is pink gin. In September 2018 it was reported that sales of UK gin had doubled in value in the past five years with exports and domestic sales totalling £2.2 billion in the year ending 16 June.

Whilst some may think the peak ‘gin craze’ has come and gone, brands are finding increasingly creative ways to cash in on the demand for new flavours. Companies from outside of the spirits market have now started to dip their toes into the category, and a couple of examples that were popular in 2019 are:

  • Echo Falls – with rosé wine and pink gin spirits being immensely popular within the alcohol industry Echo Falls saved its younger generation of drinkers from having to choose between the two by launching a Rosé Wine and Gin Fusion.
  • Kopparberg – known for its ciders, Kopparberg entered the spirits category by launching two fruit flavoured pink gins inspired by its range of fruity ciders.

Note to venues: If you don’t already have it, add pink gin to your drinks menu. It’s all about how you sidestep that emerging maturity and appeal to multi-demographics. Pink is everywhere in the drinks world, and that doesn’t look set to change any time soon

Beyond the bottle

Waitrose’s 2019 report found sales of canned lagers now outstrip bottled versions, which means the can is back in fashion - even canned wines are on the rise in the UK. When you think of wine, the first image that comes to mind is most likely a glass of red or white wine, perhaps being poured from an elegant bottle. Though this may be a classic image, there’s a chance it could become a thing of the past as many will be drinking wine from a can.

There are now 22 wine brands offering their products in cans, and as many as 386 different wine options can now be sipped from a can. Though it’ already a hit in restaurants, bars and wineries, it’s also spreading to venues that do not traditionally serve wines such as stadiums and zoos. It’s not just about a novel vessel to hold our favourite liquid, it's a different model of consumption all together. As wine in a can is a single serving, it’s already popular with millennials as a way of avoiding binge drinking and looks set to become one of the biggest alcohol trends of 2020.

Note to venues: Cans are lighter to transport than bottles and are recycled more than glass, which means it’s a greener option than bottles. Will you be adding them to your drinks menu this year?

The rise of non-alcoholic drinks

Alcohol-free drinks have come a long way since the days of sugary-sweet mocktails and tasteless beer. It can be argued we are currently right in the middle of a full-fledged mocktail revival, and it’s not winding down in 2020. There is a rise in the appreciation of hand-cut ice, a mid-century lowball glass and a whimsical garnish — even if there's not a spirit swirling within! ‘Dry January’ has become a popular way to start the year on a healthier note, and more and more people are jumping on the booze-free train year-round these days.

Millennials and Gen Z, who drive so many trends these days, are drinking less, thanks in part to concerns about their health. While many companies might view that as a problem, many beverage entrepreneurs see it as an opportunity.

More and more brands are introducing alcohol-free spirits, wines, and beers. In addition to this, countless restaurants and bars around the country are including mocktails on their menus and there are even some non-alcoholic bars opening up across the country. Examples include:

  • Redemption, London - The bar's motto is "spoil yourself without spoiling yourself”
  • The Brink, Liverpool - A social enterprise where all profits go into the community to support those who have suffered from alcohol addiction
  • Sobar, Nottingham - an off-shoot of a charity that helps people in recovery from alcohol and drugs

Note to venues: Did you prepare for Dry January 2020 in time? Whilst many signed up to the movement expecting a selection of zero-proof offerings including spirits, beer and wine, this trend is on the rise. For many it doesn’t just stop in January, as it’s becoming more of a lifestyle – so continue stocking up on your zero-proof offerings!