Spring is the season of new beginnings, and as the weather warms up, what — and how — we drink, changes as well. As with most things, beverage trends for 2021 have been dominated by the pandemic-induced lifestyle changes. There’s been a shift towards the “home bars” as we went into lockdown, spurring a rise in homemade cocktail trends. There has also been a rise in the consumption of low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages alongside the low-sugar and low-carb choices — driven by Millennial drink trends.
Here’s the lowdown on the top 10 drink trends for the new season. Cheers!
A far cry from the synthetic, over-sweet drinks of before, today’s Ready-to-Drink (RTD) beverages are lifestyle-led, sophisticated affairs, with the range including spritzes, hard seltzers, and boutique cocktails like the ones from Curatif.
Canned wine is another RTD style that has become a favourite among backyard picnickers and virtual partygoers. And for those of us who want to opt for something low-sugar and low-carb, the seltzer is the new go-to. Seltzer trends indicate that interest bloomed during the 2020 lockdowns, and our love for the hard seltzer doesn’t show any signs of waning.
If you’re looking for a beer that tastes great without the alcohol content, you’re not alone. According to IWSR’s latest Drinks Market Analysis, low-alcohol beer and non-alcoholic beer sales are on a roll. While an increased awareness of healthy options has no doubt abetted rising popularity, the reason for the lingering success of zero beer is simply that this new breed tastes good. Peroni Libera and Heineken 0.0 have embraced the non-alcoholic space, and you can expect to see more low-and-no offerings from your favourite craft brewers very soon.
Even if actual travel has been on ice due to Covid-19, travelling through your tastebuds was never easier. We are all more open than ever to trying new flavours, and luckily, there’s a wide landscape of unique spirits to choose from.
One of the biggest alcohol trends of 2020 was homemade cocktails, according to the Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report, and this drinks trend shows no sign of slowing down. Simplicity is the theme for the vast majority of us. Trending cocktails include classics like the old fashioned, negroni, daiquiri, martini and margarita. Their fruitier counterparts — the cosmopolitan, mojito, and wine-based cocktails like frosé and spritzes — are also making our favourite cocktails lists.
The world of red wine is getting a shake-up, with consumers leaning towards lighter aromatic wines over traditional full-bodied favourites. Pinot noir is booming as more drinkers fall in love with its lighter body, gorgeous perfume and food-friendliness. The appeal of grenache is spreading beyond its role in GSM blends (with shiraz and mourvèdre) to win hearts and palates when bottled as a single varietal.
And heat-loving tempranillo is finding favour with New World winemakers thanks to its heavier body and mouthfeel. The list goes on with gamay and pinot meunier, both red wine varietals which are coming into their own.
While single varietals will always have their place, blended wines are seeing a resurgence in Australia. Blends are where the true skill and creativity of a winemaker shines. And as craft winemaking grows, so too does this new wave of blending, whereby winemakers can effectively create their perfect wine using more than one grape.
For example, Cullen’s Cabernet Merlot rounds out cabernet sauvignon’s harsh tannins, making for a smoother finish. Likewise, combining the sharpness of sauvignon blanc with the oily richness of semillon can produce something truly memorable, just like Cape Mentelle’s Sauvignon Blanc Semillon.
Organic, natural, low-sulphite wine, gluten-free options, low-alcohol beer, low-proof gin, sugar-free RTDs, zero beer — as wellness becomes a growing priority for consumers, the beverage world is not being left behind. Many manufacturers are taking it to the next level with functional elixirs: drinks with immune-boosting qualities, whether it’s ginger and turmeric in their cocktail or a gut health-supporting alcoholic kombucha (hands up, Naughty Booch). Mindful consumption habits and a health-forward attitude are paving the path for this modern drinks trend.
Keen to reduce their environmental footprint while responding to a new generation of eco-minded drinkers, an ever-growing number of wineries, spirit distilleries and breweries are heading down sustainability street. South Australia has become the epicentre of sustainable winegrowing, especially the Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale regions. Producers have also rehabilitated the quintessential “goon bag” and turned it into a respected, eco-friendly vessel.
When it comes to millennial drink trends, sustainability is perhaps the most important — and enduring — one.
Gin trends have been pointing to a “love for local” like never before. Today there are more than 700 Australian distilleries who are crafting their own local gin using our unique and Indigenous botanicals. Choosing Australian gin means you’ll enjoy the flavours that grow around you, and showing a dash of economic solidarity for good measure. Try Seven Season’s Green Ant Gin for something herbal and spicy, or Wolf Lane Tropical Gin for a hit of juicy fruit.
This Mexican spirit has become more popular than ever, thanks to the rise of the homemade cocktails trend (interest in the Margarita is at an all-time high), the rise of the wellness movement (it is a low-sugar, gluten-free spirit) and premiumisation of the spirit. Star power doesn’t hurt either — there is no shortage of celebrities who have their own tequila brands. According to data from IMARC Group, the global tequila market is projected to hit a value of US$25.4bn in 2026. Hot on tequila’s heels? Mezcal is considered it’s smokier, more versatile cousin. Try this one from Ilegal.