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HomeDiningReport: hot cocktail trends shaping S.Africa's drinking habits in 2023

Report: hot cocktail trends shaping S.Africa’s drinking habits in 2023

Want to know exotic tastes and flavours shaping South Africa's cocktail consumption and drinking culture? Coming right on time for the widespread World Cocktail Day celebrations across the country this Saturday (May 13), the latest Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report reveals hot new flavours, sensations and experiences being sought not only locally but abroad as well; from spicy drinks with jalapeño for the health conscious, and flavourful tabasco inspired tequilas for the most adventurous of drinkers to the rise of NoLo (no and low alchohol), you name it!

As the latest international cocktail trends report by Bacardi indicates, the manner in which people consume and prefer their cocktails is changing all over the world, and South Africans have shown how keen they are to experiment with new and exotic tastes and flavours.

Gone are the days of limited choices and flavours when it comes to our tipple of choice. The recently released fourth annual Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report unveiled the extent to which trends in cocktail and spirit consumption are changing the world over, with South Africa being no exception. Experimental new flavours and changes in consumer behaviour are heralding new cocktails with new tastes and visual appeal capturing the nation’s imagination.

Produced in collaboration with London-based The Future Laboratory, extensive external research, the Bacardi-led consumer surveys and bartender insights have revealed that locally, 44% of the 1 000 South African respondents surveyed indicated that they anticipate drinking more cocktails in 2023, demonstrating a marked shift away from ciders, beers and wine.

Furthermore, keeping up with conscious eating and drinking trend taking place globally, 48% reported that they will be drinking more cocktails containing natural ingredients.

“This trend is partly due to globally interconnected consumers sharing their cocktail experiences on social media and partly due to the boom in at-home mixology, which gained prominence during the pandemic,” says Edgar Mntungwa, Customer Marketing Manager at Bacardi South Africa. “Google searches for cocktail names and recipes have spiked during the past year, with a remarkable increase of 59% being seen between October 2021 and September 2022, an indicator of the growing culture of cocktail curiosity.”

Some of the macro trends defining how, what, where and why consumers will be sipping more cocktails in 2023 include:

1. The Pleasure Revolution

Fresh ingredients and more fun and frivolous flavours are coming to the fore. Interestingly, 44% of South African respondents indicated that relaxing with friends and family is their preferred cocktail-drinking occasion, outpacing happy hours, date nights and parties. This research shows that over the next 12 months, over half of respondents (54 %) plan on preparing more cocktails at home.

2. Transforming tastes

Redefining when and where they celebrate special occasions and with which drinks and flavours has seen more than 50% of South Africans surveyed going out to eat, drink and socialise earlier in the evenings. During the week, 45 % of respondents based in South Africa reported that they most often drink cocktails or spirits/ liquors between 8pm and midnight, while 43 % drink between 4pm and 8pm. This pattern is similar to the drinking habits over a weekend, with 42 % drinking between 8pm and midnight and 35 % between 4pm and 8pm.

Spicy drinks, with jalapeño and tabasco inspired tequila and vodka-based cocktails has seen an increase in popularity, with bitter flavours and the use of fermented ingredients such as kombucha also remaining popular.

3. Sophisticated sip

An emerging trend in minimalism at premium venues and a focus on quality ingredients is further backed by 46% of South Africans prioritising drinking cocktails made with high-quality spirits and liquors. 32% of bartenders expect this preference for premium spirits in the tequila, single malt, aged rum and mescal categories to continue.

4. All about the delivery

How South African consumers purchase their spirit of choice has also changed over the last few years. 61 % of those surveyed currently use a retailer website or app to buy spirit-based drinks or cocktails for at home delivery. Over a third order cocktails to go from a bar or restaurant, while 24 % use a third-party delivery service.

5. Conscious cocktails

Environmental awareness is transforming how the drinks industry operates with 38% of consumers reporting that spirit and liquor brands which stand for sustainability are of extreme importance to them. High-end venue bartenders are increasingly conscious of reducing waste, looking for sustainable ingredients, and thinking about what happens to the items used, from bottles to garnishes. The focus on zero-waste is peaking, with 44% of bartenders interested in the issue, according to Bacardi’s Global Ambassador Survey 2022.

Another related trend includes the rise of NoLo (no and low alcohol) drinkers. The concept of Dry January is also gaining momentum, with over a fifth of the respondents polled saying that they will be doing a Dry January for the first time next year.

For the conscious drinkers: sustainably sourced ingredients are proving popular among cocktail drinkers; so why not whip up your own environmentally-friendly BOMBAY SAPPHIRE cocktail (click here for a savoury Minnie Dlamini-inspired BOMBAY cocktail recipe). BOMBAY SAPPHIRE is the first global gin brand to use 100% sustainably sourced botanicals.  

6. Nostalgia with a twist.

While new flavours and experiences are trending, old school is still proving to be cool with many consumers enjoying cocktails that transport them back to memories of earlier times. As a result, mojitos, daiquiris, vodka soda, Bloody Marys and gin and tonic are still the top five cocktails ordered globally.

According to the Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report, we can also expect to see a rise in new drinking occasions, with consumers choosing to celebrate times that really matter to them with premium spirits and adventurous ingredients. 

“More and more consumers are enjoying these moments in non-traditional places. Around 43% of South Africans say they are clubbing less and 44% indicate that they are visiting members-only clubs less frequently. A third say they are hosting more special occasions at home and intend to continue to do so in 2023,” said Mntungwa. “At Bacardi, we are setting the pace at the forefront of these changing trends.”

Trends shaping South Africa’s cocktail consumption in 2023

Cocktails South African respondents say they will be most likely to prepare at home or order when out in 2023:

  • Gin and tonic (58 %)
  • Mojito (34 %)
  • Vodka soda (33 %)
  • Whiskey and coke (32 %)
  • Rum and coke (30 %)

Almost six in ten of the South African respondents polled (57 percent) said that when comparing their current behaviour to life pre-2020, they are going out to eat, drink and socialise earlier in the evening. 

The top occasions when respondents are most likely to consume spirits or liquors during the next 12 months include: 

  • Relaxing with friends and family (48 percent) 
  • Partying/ letting loose (39 percent) 
  • While on holiday (38 percent) 
  • Date night with a partner (36 percent) 
  • Hosting parties at home (30 percent)

The following sustainable and environmental practices are important to respondents with regards to the spirits and liquors they drink: 

  • Recyclable packaging (59 percent) 
  • Buying local (57 percent) 
  • Reducing carbon footprint (48 percent) 
  • Helping preserve clean water (44 percent) 
  • Sustainably sourced ingredients (44 percent) 

Editor's Desk
Editor's Desk
Curated by editor-in-chief, Tankiso Komane, this special collection of articles from the Editor's Desk unpacks topics of the day, including commentary, in-depth analysis and partner content.
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