Speciality Drinks reveals what’s trending in 2019


Dawn Davies MW, head buyer and Jen Baernreuther, sales director at Speciality Drinks, leading supplier to the on-trade, reveal their drinks predictions for 2019


Low and no

Drinking habits are changing and more non-alcoholic/ low ABV spirits, beers and wines have opened the gateway for operators to capitalise on the ‘mindful drinking’ trend.

Last year, a flood of alternatives started to crop up in each category, leaving a wave of appealing non-alcoholic serves, low ABV cocktails and healthy craft alternatives readily available for consumers. We have added over 60 low ABV lines and seen a volume increase of 23% in the last 6 months, this is set to continue throughout 2019 as the category keeps up with demand.

Flavoured gin is in

In 2018 pink became the hot flavour on everyone’s lips and a new set of gin consumers have emerged. Dubbed “explorers,” these consumers are always looking for the next biggest thing in terms of experience and flavour. Brands are capitalising on this and becoming more ambitious by introducing more quirky and exciting flavour combinations to their range. This has paved the way for a multitude of new flavoured gins and gin liqueurs which we believe will dominate any further growth in this category, illustrated by our sales volume uplift of 15% in the last 6 months.

More to rum than spiced

It’s a sure statement that rum is beginning to mirror the status of whisky, gradually gaining more popularity. We have seen a rise of rum sales +64% in volume and +91% in value in the last year, this could be attributed to a show of interest in the different styles of rum that connoisseurs have known for some time. This is becoming evident in the on-trade as these styles challenge the pre-and often mis-conceptions of rum.

No longer is rum being considered the underdog in the drinks world with a new generation of rum producers emerging to introduce more diversity in the category. An influx of new products that will suit the whisky drinkers (aged in ex wine, sherry and cognac casks) as well as more premium offerings, not to mention the comeback of white rum. Foursquare Distillery and Hampden Estate are leading this with their collaboration to create the unique Veritas white rum, altering the pre misconceptions that white rum is just a clear and harsh liquid. We expect to see bars across the country setting the standard to premiumise the rum category and educate their customers better.

Mixing Mezcal

The gin craze is certainly still very much alive but there comes a point when the madness gets too much and consumers start to look for something new on the menu. Mezcal is showing steady growth of 67% volume uplift in the last 6 months, with no signs of stopping.  This growth could be attributed to consumers’ appetite to drink more mezcal-based cocktails and its status as a bartender’s favourite for some time, featuring on more cocktail lists in 2019 as bartenders start to experiment with its smoky and rich fruit flavour.

Mezcal is also superb when mixed with tonic and with the number of premium mixer brands increasing it is helping to surge Mezcal’s popularity. Plus it makes for a fantastic ingredient in a ‘negroni’ in the place of gin!

Whisky goes rare

Scarcity and a global passion for collecting and investing in whisky has driven the demand to feature old and rare whiskies on the back bar. Bigger brands such as Macallan, Glenlivet, Balvenie and Glenfiddich are fuelling a growing appreciation for a good quality whisky.

This could also be attributed to whiskies that aren’t readily available to buy, such as limited production whiskies (for example, Michter’s Antique Collection). Also the connoisseur’s desire to taste rare Japanese whiskies for example, is driving them into particular bars. This is new wave of consumers in the on-trade need to be catered for even more this year.

What’s trending

Pre-batch cocktails

Thanks to the craft cocktail revolution, more bars are streamlining their service and cutting down costs with premium pre-batch cocktails.

Steadily becoming a huge trend, there has been more brands emerging to offer exactly that. Well-known brands such as Sacred have introduced new pre-batch cocktails to the market with their Negroni. Another good example is Ely, offering fresh and organic cocktail blends for the on-trade.

Non-alcoholic cocktails

The Negroni is driving a huge cocktail culture in bars as the growing desire for bitter flavours is becoming rife, the non-alcoholic version ‘Nogroni’ Seedlip’s signature cocktail is also becoming more popular as more consumers divert from drinking alcohol on a night out.

From farm to drink

With the government taking action to help discontinue the production of high-sugar drinks, consumers are becoming increasingly more aware of the ingredients that make up their drink and where they derive from. Bartenders are wising up and are introducing more products with provenance, paying close attention to brands which source their ingredients organically and from credible sources.

Raising a glass to green

Sustainability, veganism and health are flooding the news headlines. Since the spotlight hit on plastic straws in 2018 bartenders’ interests have begun to evolve further than just making drinks. They are becoming activists in their own right to champion positive change and promote sustainability in the on-trade. This means they are becoming increasingly more aware of the ‘greener’ drink brands to select and feature on their menus.