So how, and with what, will we quench our thirst? Here is EHL’s selection of the top drink trends in 2023.
In this post pandemic-era, there is no doubt that the megatrends for the new year will center around healthier and ‘cleaner’, more sustainable, premium and socially responsible products in line with the mantras – good for me, good for the planet – and quality over quantity.
With movements like mindful drinking and “sober curious” gaining popularity, research indicates that alcohol consumption has declined with younger generations drinking less as they show greater interest in holistic wellness and health. The beverage industry has been paying attention to these shifts in concern, consciousness and habits.
Functional and healthy beverages are on the rise. Zero and low alcohol ready-to-drink offerings (the NOLO movement) from North America to Europe and Asia-Pacific have boomed as they prove to be both a more convenient and safer option in a world still plagued by COVID-19 measures and barrier gestures. But globally, we’re seeing an array of interesting new product developments, packaging innovations and surprising mergers and acquisitions with the lines between the health movement, the low- and no- alcoholic category and the wider drinks industry becoming increasingly blurred.
Beyond these general tendencies, here we take a look at seven particular drink trends for the year ahead.
1. CBD-infused relaxation drinks
A very 2022 trend which just a year or so ago could only be found on the cocktail menus of only the most avant-garde venues is now a mainstream tipple in 2023, for both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic markets.
CBD drinks, whilst they don’t get you high, have been proven to offer other health benefits due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Other reported benefits are that cannabis-infused drinks support mood regulation and memory. Why not try Vita Coca’s CBD infused Cola, or the CBD Infused Strawberry Gin by Aqua Sativa, or the calming CBD-infused flavoured water from TRIP?
2. Bubble tea craze is staying
Bubble tea has been having its moment for quite some time now; what seemed like a craze looks set to stay a favourite among Gen-Z in 2023. Despite being invented in the 1980s, the demand for bubble tea is going global with its market expected to grow by almost $2 billion to reach $4.3 billion by 2027.
The refreshing Taiwanese tea-based drink features tapioca or fruit jelly bubbles. It appeals to health-conscious individuals enjoying the healthier variants low in sugar, with organic soya milk, green tea or fruity mixes, as well as the younger generation seduced by its 200 or so different flavor combinations and even more customizable options making for a truly unique, tasty and fun drink.
3. Fermented drinks as a health-booster
Increased awareness of the importance of fuelling our body with quality and nutritious food and drink is driving a rapid growth in fermented beverages, occupying a significant portion within the functional and healthy drinks category. The growing body of research backing up the benefits of prioritising gut health and diversity in the microbiome, (the collective name for the microrganisms that live in the digestive tract), is driving this drink trend.
It’s estimated that in 2015, the fermented beverage industry was worth $747.55 billion. In 2023, the market is expected to hit $1,061.5 billion (5% CAGR). While kombucha has been topping the leader board for some years, it’s now got some serious competition.
Water kefir, with its more diverse probiotic strains shown to help boost the immune system and aid digestion, is gaining momentum and creeping into the mainstream. As is the fermented Mexican soda Tepache – another healthy, flavorsome, sustainable alternative to kombucha. While not new in itself, it has promising prospects in this health-conscious era, but hey, it’s just a gut feeling!
4. Drinks with star power
Celebrity beverage endorsements are nothing new. Think George Clooney and Nespresso, Jennifer Aniston and Smart Water, or countless sporting stars endorsing energy drinks. Expect to see more and more vineyards and champagne houses partnering with big names to capitalize on their glamorous images and extend their respective brand portfolios.
After John Legend, Kylie Minogue and Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz is the latest celebrity to venture into the wine business with her “clean” wines, tapping into both the wellness trend and that of the growing ‘thirst’ for ‘pink’ wine.
Such partnerships are also strategic in helping introduce wines and champagnes to new consumers, in particular millennial drinkers drawn to celebrity and wellness lifestyles, and who aren’t impartial to the Instagrammable aesthetic of a fizzy or rose-tinted drink.
In the realm of non-alcoholic drinks, this star-studded trend has also taken off. YouTube stars KSI and Logan Paul have collaborated to create Prime Hydration, an energy drink which comes in seven brightly coloured flavours containing BCAAs, vitamins, electrolytes and antioxidants, and has caused quite a stir since its launch in 2022. With demand soaring, supermarkets in the UK are said to be struggling to keep up with demand, with customers reportedly queuing up outside stores before they open to get their hands on the viral drink.
Robbie Williams, is reportedly trying to get a slice of the Gen-Z energy drink pie, as the singer used to drink 20 Red Bull’s a day. One of many celeb-endorsed drinks to watch and try in 2023.
5. Sustainably packaged beverages
Boxed wine is easier to store, it preserves open wine very well, and is proving a more hygienic and sustainable option, in particular for restaurants. With each three-litre box generating about half the carbon dioxide emissions to that of a glass bottle, boxed wine is also cheaper to transport, stock and is more environmentally-friendly. Something that even the more premium wine houses can’t ignore.
While wine connoisseurs may jump to the conclusion that boxed wine equates to poor quality, industry experts are suggesting that that’s changing, and fast, as sales are forecast to continue surging around the world in 2023.
Another drink packaging trend you’ll see in 2023 is plastic and glass-free bottles, typically made of recycled paper or sustainably sourced wood, with a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to their glass equivalents. The same has been increasingly used by manufacturers of other household essentials such as washing liquids.
6. Canned cocktails with premium products
While some may have enjoyed following online mixology tutorials to create their own home-made cocktails, many long for the days when original creations are served ready-made for immediate consumption.
Well, spirit brands and hotel chains like the Marriott have wasted no time to offer the perfect solution and create a variety of delicious, bartender-quality, ready-to-drink cocktails in cans. Tipped to be the hottest trend in the alcoholic beverage space, the development of prepared cocktails-to-go has, according to Nielsen Premium Panel data, accelerated 171% in 2020 and valued at USD 782.8 million in 2021 is showing no signs of slowing down in 2023. The market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4% from 2022 to 2030.
With high-quality ingredients, authentic flavors, options between low-calorie, sugar and alcohol or premium spirits, and convenient and sanitary packaging, grab-and-go cocktails are here to stay.
7. Spiked sodas and alcohol-free beers and spirits
With interest in low and no alcohol by volume (ABV) drinks skyrocketing over the last few years, more and more people are looking for a middle ground between tee-total and drinker, between functional and indulgent, between high-quality and convenience.
Consequently, low and non-alcoholic beverages are flooding the market and is the space to watch. From non-alcoholic beers and premium mocktails by spirit brands to the boom of hard seltzers now spilling over into hard coffees and kombucha – consumers are going to be spoilt for choice. Whether it’s wanting something with less sugar and alcohol, with premium products, looking for a slight ‘kick’ in traditional non-alcoholic beverages or an alternative to beer, this growing category ensures there’s something for every taste bud and type of drinker.
8. Retro Cocktails
Classic cocktail recipes seem to be having somewhat of a revival, with their quirky names and familiar, feel-good taste, it’s just what the doctor ordered to perk us up. Something to remind us of days gone by, the Harvey Hallbanger, Salty Dog and White Russian have all made a comeback.
Whilst Google Trends shows a 200% increase in search interest for the Pornstar Martini, a staple for many girls’ nights looks set to surge in popularity, what’s more, we saw a 60% rise in search interest for martinis in general. Did Martinis ever really go out of fashion? No, but there has been a notable uptick in drinks’ menus dedicated to the glamorous tipple. Will you have yours “shaken, not stirred?”
Drink trends 2023: A toast to good health
As we raise our glasses to a new year ahead, bars, pubs and restaurants are still grappling with economic uncertainties and staffing issues. While there is still so much uncertainty, what is clear is that the increasing consumer interest in health, wellness and mindfulness is shaping the beverage industry as a whole as it seeks to quench this thirst for holistic balance.
For being able to choose alcohol-free beverages without having to sacrifice flavors, fizz or authenticity. For indulging in a drink without having to abstain completely. For a return to more simplicity with natural and ‘clean’ products. For drinking less in quantity but better in quality. Cheers to that!