Around 7,000 Bacardi employees across the globe will turn on their “out of office” message to go out on the town and visit bars in more than 100 cities, all in the name of spotting what’s new and next for cocktails. The activity, called Back to the Bar, brings everyone at Bacardi together for a day of “barstool research” with bartenders who are the trend spotters and tastemakers of the spirits business and a direct link to consumers. According to Nielsen CGA, 40% of revenue in bars is influenced by bartenders as they are the go-to experts to help you pick your drink.
As part of the third iteration of Back to the Bar, the largest privately-held spirits company sheds light on what’s creating excitement for bartenders with the release of the Bacardi 2020 Cocktail Trends Report. The report highlights trends based on insights captured from a survey Bacardi ran with bartenders and bar ambassadors in 2019, as well as third-party research from the world’s leading consumer insights firms.
“Back to the Bar tradition is a time when everyone across the company, regardless of day job, becomes an ambassador and a researcher by going back to where our business is made – the local bars and restaurants,” says Mahesh Madhavan, CEO of family-owned Bacardi Limited. “We are in the relationship business and I never miss an opportunity to talk to a bartender or our consumers to learn what they’re seeing and what they think will be the next big thing.”
As the company celebrates its 158th anniversary this week, Back to the Bar also commemorates the company’s legacy of a founder’s mentality and entrepreneurial spirit. For seven generations, the family-owned business has instilled a belief that brands are built in bars, not boardrooms. Everyone at Bacardi participates in this “roll-up your sleeves” approach to data collection and serves as influencers by talking to friends, family, and consumers about the brands.
“In an era where people are flooded with data, there is no substitute for putting feet on the street and seeing first-hand what’s happening at the bar,” says Jacob Briars, Global Advocacy Director at Bacardi. “When something excites the bartenders, we know that it is a matter of time before we start to see a shift in the mindset and behavior of our guests.”
Among the findings of the Bacardi 2020 Cocktail Trends Report are that:
- Mindful drinking goes mainstream, with 83% of bartenders citing that low-alcohol drinks are hot and an increase of 42% in the online searches with the word ‘mocktail’ in 2019. (Technomic Behind the Bar Insights, 2019 and Google Trends, 2019)
- Natural products are in the spotlight with 31% of bartenders increasingly interested in local, fresh ingredients. (Global Brand Ambassador Survey (GBAS), 2019)
- The culinary cocktail trend borrows methods and techniques from the kitchen and champions fresh, seasonal, savory and herbal ingredients – 91% of bartenders use vegetables in their cocktails, and 68% of American Culinary Federation members rated culinary cocktail as a ‘hot trend’ last year. (Technomic Behind the Bar Insights, 2019)
- Dark rum is leading the premium game – 43% of bartenders ranked it as the top spirit to premiumize. (GBAS, 2019)
- Sustainability is at the forefront of every consumer’s mind, and it’s reflected in the bar – 66% of bartenders mention that sustainable drinks are hot right now. (Technomic Behind the Bar Insights, 2019)
- Ready-To-Drink (RTD) cocktails are here to stay, reflecting the overarching demand for consistent and convenient well-crafted cocktails beyond the bar – there was a 26% increase of vodka soda and flavored RTDs in North America last year. (GBAS, 2019)
- 38% of Americans prefer to make their cocktails at home, and the industry has quickly adapted, offering consumers myriad ways to facilitate at-home imbibing, from home cocktail kits to AI-recommended recipes. (Mintel, 2019)