Liquid Thinking

Cabinet Top 5 Drinks Trends for 2021

16th December 2020

1. Mood For You

Over the last few years there has been an increased recognition of the importance of nutrition in our physical and mental wellbeing. That recognition is changing the flavour landscape.

A new group of ‘mood foods’, whose natural ingredients claim to help reduce stress and relax, energise or invigorate, are growing in popularity.

Interestingly, flavour credentials are secondary to a product’s holistic benefits, and therefore some unusual flavour profiles are emerging into the market. In the on-trade, more and more venues are seeking to provide experiences that are healthy and guilt-free, so we expect to see these flavours integrated into menus and products more frequently.

Plant-based natural alternatives, and (as we mention in our latest Trailblazing Trends report) adaptogens – which are a clean plant category with both physical and mental health benefits – such as goji berries, turmeric, cactus, aloe vera, ginseng and mushrooms should begin to increasingly appear as consumers seek these ingredients as part of their daily routine.

2. Rum is the new Gin

It’s safe to say the gin frenzy has been one of the biggest booms in the spirits category for several years now and is still accelerating way faster than other spirits. This continued acceleration is mainly down to the flavoured gin category, which is being led by the increasing demand from consumers for new and differentiated flavour combinations.

This therefore has led many in the industry to believe rum will follow gins notable rise. This growth is currently being driven by standard golden and spiced rum brands which has helped to intensify the volume of rum sales by 3% year-on-year.

With many of the new rum drinkers being millennials - who commonly consume it either neat, with a mixer, or as part of a cocktail (which we’re also seeing a rise in demand for), the versatility of rum positions it well for further growth in 2021!

Spirits expert, Tom Sandham, says: ‘Gin lured countless drinkers away from vodka, with notorious classics like the Negroni flourishing as drinkers craved punchy new botanical flavours. Now gin drinkers are turning towards rum for the same reason, as it’s the ideal stepping-stone drink into aged spirits: not too bitter, and lovely mixed or neat.

Whilst we don’t see the gin craze drifting off anytime soon, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with rum over the next 12 months. Let the battle be-gin…

3. Botanicals Boom

With the potential for less-sweet flavours on the horizon, there is also an upcoming rise of botanicals – exploring familiar food flavours in a less familiar beverage setting.

Christina Matrozou of Kerry Taste & Nutrition says that “The growing desire for holistic attributes in both foods and beverages will see botanicals – such as lavender, turmeric, and basil for instance – come to the forefront to address the rising call for light or earthy tones”.

A category that includes herbs, flowers, and spices, botanicals are proving to be much more than just a garnish for consumers’ favourite drinks. As demand continues to increase for natural, functional beverages, botanicals are becoming more and more prevalent as a flavourful addition to drinks of all types. The subtle and aromatic flavours of basil, cilantro, lavender, and elderflower – as well as the sour, tart flavours of sorrel and orange peel – are perfect for pairing with spirits, soft drinks, teas, and more.

Therefore, as consumers become more health-conscious, trends reflect a market shift towards beverages that maximize on quality and functionality, all while packing a flavour punch – something which botanicals have the advantage of delivering on both!

4. Club Tropicana

Tropical flavours such as pineapple, mango, passionfruit and coconut have always been very popular amongst consumers, especially in cocktails. However, their pairings have been limited to traditional and predictable combinations – which is driven by consumers need to evoke a sense of place during their drinking experience.

Nonetheless, things are beginning to change. According to Fentimans latest premium and soft drinks and mixers report, new generations identify themselves as ‘global citizens’, and with the world shrinking due to global travel, the geographical boundaries that have defined traditional flavour pairings are falling away. With travel and adventure limited, if not, eliminated in 2020, consumers are using their taste buds to travel the world. Additionally, tropical flavours are increasing in availability and decreasing in cost, therefore venues are thinking more creatively about their use in drinks. Consequently, tropical flavours are becoming more integrated into western drinking traditions, products and ingredients.

Holly McHugh from Imbibe suggests that “The trend of using globally inspired flavours from regions like East and Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Mediterranean will accelerate because consumers will be more inclined to explore other cultures through food and beverage while they grapple with stay-at-home advisories and travel bans”.

We expect to see more from tropical based spritzes and aperitifs, premiumisation of tropical flavours and new tropical spirits pairings…

5. Power of Sour

There has been an increased interest in fermentation and drinks like Kombucha for a while now. This isn’t something new, however, this increase in interest is raising the profile of sour flavours over sweet.

Now that the Kombucha market is more mainstream, it is likely to start influencing flavour perception in the on-trade. Consequently, consumers are becoming more accepting of the flavour profile of fermented products. With its unique acidities created by the bacteria-led fermentations found in products such as Kombucha, kefir, sour beers and certain wines.

With this we’re also seeing an evolution of citrus flavours becoming more exotic and adventurous. The use of common citrus fruits like lemon, lime and blood orange to provide sour elements to cocktails and mixed drinks could become rivalled by new acidic building blocks found in Kombucha, kefir and vinegars.

Interested in finding out more about what this might mean for you and your business?

Please contact us at or 0207 101 3939