Bacardí Releases the Brand's First-ever Beverage Trends Report

John Burke (left), Bacardí CMO, and Jacob Briars (right), Bacardí Head of Global Advocacy prepping for 2020 Back to the Bar. Image: Bacardí

For the first time in the brand’s 158-year history, Bacardí has released a cocktail trends report.

As an iconic rum producer that has built an impressive portfolio of other brands, Bacardí is well positioned to collect, analyze and share information regarding what consumers want and what has bartenders excited. The family-owned company celebrated their 158th anniversary Tuesday, February 4.

Bacardí brand ambassadors, trade professionals and third-party researchers were activated to create this trend report, moving it from the realm of mere speculation to opportunity.

In December of 2018, we published beverage trend predictions made by several Bacardí brand ambassadors, which can be found here. Bitter profiles, sustainability, and brand support of social and global causes were among the top predictions. All have been proven accurate.

Bitter Flavors

Looking at the 2019 predictions first, bitter profiles are expected to remain popular globally in 2020. According to a global brand ambassador survey conducted in 2019, nearly 60 percent of bartenders from around the world showed an interest in using bitter liqueurs in cocktails.

Sustainable Practices

Sustainability is important to both consumers and bartenders. Bacardí has championed sustainability for several years, committing to reach specific operations, sourcing and packaging goals by 2022. Among their efforts, Bacardí’s rejection of plastic straws is likely the most well-known.

Bacardí’s report reveals that an overwhelming majority of bartenders—88 percent—consider sustainability when creating new drinks for menus. Almost half of bartenders (45 percent), according to that global brand ambassador survey referenced earlier, have an interest in creating cocktails with zero-waste ingredients.

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Such drinks are made using repurposed waste items, venue-grown garnishes and other ingredients, and served room temperature to cut back on water usage. Trash Tiki is at the forefront of zero-waste bar operations and will be speaking at Nightclub & Bar Show 2020.

Causes & Transparency

Bacardí’s cocktail insights support the 2019 prediction from Colin Asare-Appiah that consumers continue to demand transparency from brands. They want to know a brand’s history and commitment to ethical business, the global and social causes they support, their labor practices, details about supply chains, and more.

As the report states, brands can’t hide from consumers—every detail is available via online searches and conversations. Operators must be aware of which brands hold favor with their guests because of their transparency: 75 percent of consumers have indicated they’ll change to a brand if it’s more transparent, 78 percent trust brands they perceive as transparent more, and 90 percent will reject a brand outright for failing at transparency.

It should come as no surprise to operators—themselves consumers—that people communicate their identities and values in part through the brands they choose to support. Consumers want to know they support brands that support causes with which they’re also aligned. People want to know if a product they plan to purchase is produced by a brand that supports causes like animal welfare, green practices, providing clean water, fighting hunger, climate change, and more. Almost a third of people across the globe (64 percent) are identified as “belief-driven” purchasers, and 60 percent believe brands should let consumers know what causes they support.

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Brands with a purpose—companies that have selected a cause to support—grow twice as fast as those that don’t. Bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and hotels are brands; supporting a cause and being transparent about it can aid growth.

So, that’s the evolution of 2019 trends that were predicted to take hold and grow by Bacardí brand ambassadors. Now, let’s take a look at “new” trends for 2020.

Low-ABV & Zero-Proof

This movement is only gaining in popularity. It’s mainstream and it’s important for operators to support it through their beverage programs. The word “mocktail” has fallen out of favor with some living sober, sober curious or moderation lifestyles, but searches for the term increased 42 percent last year.

We reported last month that 55 percent of bartenders in London, Los Angeles and New York City think low- and zero-proof drinks will continue to experience growth. So far, that prediction appears to be spot on: 83 percent of bartenders say low-proof drinks are hot and 20 percent of consumers say they usually order low-proof drinks when they go out.

Of course, much of the “NoLo” movement is driven in part by health-conscious consumers seeking healthier drinks. That means lower alcohol content and natural ingredients. These are the guests who want to know if drinks feature housemade ingredients, organic items, or premade mixes. Sixty-two percent of Americans seek out natural beverage options, and the rise in organic spirits sales over the past few years is telling: such products have experienced an 18.5 percent increase in sales.

Give this a read: Distill Ventures Study Shows Zero-proof is Here to Stay

Operators should shout out the natural ingredients they use on their menus, social media, and through team members when they’re engaging with guests.

Hot Ingredients & Flavors

“Healthy option” was once interpreted as “boring.” Not anymore. Social media and technology have made the world “smaller,” meaning consumers are more informed than ever. They’re learning about beverages and ingredients they’ve never before seen, and they want to try them.

Bacardí’s report reveals exotic fruit flavors are trending. Brand ambassadors identified fresh fruit and berries as increasingly popular cocktail ingredients. Taken together, beverage programs that offer guests the opportunity to try drinks featuring exotic fresh fruits are winners.

However, vegetables are also becoming cocktail rock stars. While “sweet always wins” has been a long-held belief, Bacardí brand ambassadors believe savory will shine in 2020. According to report data, over 90 percent of bartenders are using veggies in drinks.

Give this a read: F&B Innovation Center Chefs Share Food Trend Predictions

Operators should also consider the following list of mixers and ingredients selected as the top ten by Bacardí brand ambassadors:

  1. Zero-waste
  2. Kombucha, kefir, and other fermented items
  3. Coffee
  4. Flavored tonics
  5. Herbs and herbal flavors
  6. Aromatic and flavored bitters
  7. Local and fresh fruits and berries
  8. Tea
  9. Coconut water
  10. Flavored soda

Putting it All Together

It’s clear that today’s guest seeks transparency. It stands to reason that if they want to support transparent spirits brands, they want transparency from the bars and restaurants selling them.

They also want the venues they support to implement sustainable practices, including zero-waste beverage programs and operations.

As we’ve mentioned several times, low-ABV and zero-proof are here to stay. Operations that fail to offer and highlight their NoLo drinks will struggle to remain relevant.

Ready to learn more? Iain Griffiths and Kelsey Ramage of Trash Tiki will be at Nightclub & Bar Show 2020 addressing zero-waste during their session “The Anti-Waste Era: Drink Like You Give a F*ck.” Sessions like “Earn Your Booze: Mix, Shake & Stir the EYB Mindset Into Your Booze Business,” “What's Next in Culinary Trends with Award-Winning Chefs,” “The New Wave of Experiential: Creating ROI from Space Utilization & Audience Engagement,” “The Rise of Zero-Proof & Low-ABV Drinks,” and "Inclusivity Increases Profits" will address crucial guest experience topics and hot trends. Register today!


"Bacardí 2020 Cocktail Trends Report." Bacardí Cultural Insights Network. February 2020.

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