Adding Convenience to Cocktails
July 26, 2016 – by Donna Berry
CHICAGO — On-the-go lifestyles seldom slow even in the evening in the comfort of one’s home. Just the idea of measuring, blending and shaking an after-work cocktail may cause more stress than the beverage’s intent of relaxing and unwinding. To assist, the adults-only beverage aisle at retail is getting stocked with innovative convenience solutions ranging from artisanal prepared cocktails to culinary-inspired flavorings, making the most inexperienced home bartender feel like a mixologist. And increasingly, the products even address consumers’ health and wellness considerations.
“People don’t change. They evolve,” said Keith Davis, founder, Nebula9 L.L.C., Portland, Ore. “We did not set out to re-invent the drinker, rather to re-invent the drink and change the game.”
That evolution is apparent in data from the Chicago-based market research firm Mintel, which show strong demand for artisanal alcoholic beverages in the United States. No surprise, this is being driven by millennials and their appetite for adventure. Mintel research shows that the market for craft spirits is growing and it is driving innovation in the ingredients that are blended with spirits to make everything from a cosmopolitan to a martini. Premium ready-to-drink (R.-T.-D.) cocktails also are growing, with convenience packaging making the drinks portable and pourable.
A new report from London-based Technavio entitled “Alcoholic beverage market in the U.S. 2016-2020,” shows the spirits segment, which Technavio categorizes as brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka and whiskey, is growing faster than beer or wine. And, women, overall, increasingly are turning to the spirits category for refreshment, because they have more control over the calories in a drink by choosing lower-sugar mixers and other ingredients.
The Technavio report states new product launches, the rise in the import of distilled spirits and the association of spirits with lifestyle are some of the other reasons the category is growing. The lifestyle
correlation is as much about the healthfulness and naturalness of the ingredients as it is about how the product was developed and manufactured.
“Despite being a relatively small sector of the market, craft spirits are growing in response to the huge consumer-led demand for more authentic, more distinctive, more local, less processed and more interesting spirit brands,” said Jonny Forsyth, global drinks analyst at Mintel. “Millennials are the driving force, having taken their creative and unique ethos into their spirits-buying habits. Rather than wanting to affiliate themselves with bigger brands, millennials often seek to define themselves by more niche, higher-quality brands with a quirky backstory.”
You get some of that with new-to market Nebula9, a product positioned as a healthy vodka, Mr. Davis said. It is distilled four times and infused with organic drinking vinegar and sweetened with stevia.
“I fell in love with the drinking vinegars offered at one of Portland’s premier, James Beard-awarded restaurants,” Mr. Davis said. “I also recognized the trend in uniquely flavored cocktails in food service and the exponential growth in the R.-T.-D. spirits category at retail. This set the entrepreneurial wheel in motion…