Canned Cocktails And Hard Seltzers

With the weather hopefully starting to warm up, many of us cannot help beginning to mentally fast forward to the Irish summer. Without a clear indication of when pubs and the hospitality sector will be able to reopen, people are gearing up for another season of picnics in the back garden or sunny days in the park. With many of our favourite places to grab a drink closed, people have been looking for ways to replicate these experiences themselves, experimenting with DIY mixology and home brewing. As we discussed in July in our Trend of the Week, ‘Pandemic Drinks,’ cocktails specifically have been having a big cultural moment. They have been a very welcome dose of novelty and indulgence for people stuck at home. Irish brands such as Craft Cocktails have been generating a lot of buzz with premium bottled cocktails, such as the Raspberry Negroni, which can be delivered nationwide. Yet even before the pandemic, there has been a new category of drink in town.  It conjures a sense of endless summer and has really struck a chord with young consumers—and it comes in a can.

Canned cocktails continue to see exponential growth. Global sales are projected to reach $146bn by 2030. Increasing demand for Ready to Drink cocktail offerings (RTD) in Europe in particular is expected to significantly boost the market. The sector is ditching the sugary, artificial taste and shaking off its associations with immaturity. They are becoming the perfect drink for millennials, who The Atlantic calls, the ‘medium-fancy’ generation. Improvements in packaging and technology have made it increasingly possible for brands to can high quality spirits and wine. They signal sophistication with their aesthetic, yet accessibility with their price. Costing only a few euros, they emulate some of the experience of drinking in a bar.

Competition has bred innovation. More and more brands have found refreshing ways to put their offering in a can. Jameson has its Whiskey, Ginger, and Lime. Baileys has its canned Iced Lattes. Smaller brands like Glassbox Spirits have also carved out a niche with Irish-made craft G&Ts. Ramona, created by Sommelier Jordan Salcito, is an organic wine spritz in a stylish can, which has been making waves in the Dublin wine scene. Even grocery chains like Lidl and Aldi have rolled out their own products in this space.

Hard Seltzers, a close relative of the canned cocktail, have exploded in popularity in the US and are steadily making their way across the Atlantic. Sparkling water based, low ABV, low sugar and often flavoured with tropical fruits and botanicals, they tick a lot of boxes for younger, wellness-focused consumers. Total US sales of hard seltzer were up by over 240% from 2019 to 2020, accounting for nearly half of all mixed drink consumption. The prime example is White Claw, which landed in Ireland last summer. During last spring’s lockdown, White Claw was one of the top alcoholic beverages in the US ordered for delivery. Many sites couldn’t stock enough on their digital shelves to keep up with the demand. The brand is also an icon of social media memes and TikTok videos. Loki and Co, ‘Europe’s Original Hard Seltzer,’ and Flying Flamingo, Ireland’s first hard seltzer, launched out of the Pearse Lyons Distillery, will now have White Claw to contend with. While the Irish market for hard seltzer and canned cocktails is young, there is a lot of potential. They are affordable, portable, and have a health conscious angle. Importantly, they evoke an upbeat energy that reminds us of the beach holidays and music festivals we are still missing. The pandemic has made these factors even more pertinent for young people. This could be the summer hard seltzer and canned cocktails finally make a big breakthrough.

Sean Mitchell

Author at Pynck

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