Pre-Mixed Cocktails: Ready when you are

14 May, 2019

Pre-mixed cocktails are rapidly shucking off the stigma that linked them with the sugary confections of yesteryear. Angel Brown reports

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PRE-MIXED COCKTAILS are a world away from the tacky alcopop which teenagers in the 90s went crazy for – probably because of their familiar sweet flavour and bright cartoon-like packaging. With a booming cocktail scene and increased consumer knowledge, pre-mixed cocktails are injecting new life into the ready-to-drink category.

While still in their infancy, pre-mixed cocktails are forging their own path, leaving the door wide open for brands who want to tap into the market. Selina Raggett, brand ambassador for the Handmade Cocktail Company said: “The opportunity in pre-mixed drinks is huge. They were a big trend in 2018 in the UK and globally, and the category is continuing to grow. We have seen a change in the way people perceive pre-mixed drinks, as they become aware that there is more to the category than sugary alcopops. Many of the world’s best bars have been pre-mixing their cocktails for speed and efficiency during a busy service. Consumers now understand that pre-mixed cocktails can be delicious and high quality.”

Thanks to demand the category is big business. In a significant move, US-based Constellation Brands seized the pre-mixed opportunity in 2015 by acquiring a stake in Crafthouse Cocktails founded by bartender Charles Joly.

ON-TRADE

In the UK decreasing staff levels and busier venues are just a couple of the issues the drinks industry faces which play into the hands of pre-mixed cocktails. Figures released by the human resources body CIPD show the number of non-UK-born workers decreased by 58,000 between April to June in 2018 compared with an increase of 263,000 in the 12 months to June 2017. These figures heavily affect the hospitality industry.

Pritesh Mody, founder of the World of Zing, thinks pre-mixed cocktails have a part to play in helping venues with poor staffing levels: “There aren’t enough bartenders to go around. There is a shortage of staff and that is growing particularly due to Brexit [in the UK]. It is well documented that food service is suffering massively. In this calendar year we will deliver over half a million serves. Casual dining for us is massive – it can be little groups of three or four restaurants but also premium pubs and hotel bars.”

In addition to these issues, some venues can’t implement the required training, necessary equipment or simply don’t have the space for cocktail making. Ryan Chetiyawardana, owner of Mr Lyan bottled cocktails, said: “Our bottled cocktails are exploring something that can’t be mixed on the spot as a complement to the classic version. We’ve helped friends’ venues with serving them but that is usually in settings where the space is tight, such as a restaurant bar, or in spaces where they want something unusual to offer as part of the mix.”

With more venues turning to pre-mixed cocktails, could the stigma now be behind us? Piotr Jedrzejewski, from Aske Stephenson bottled cocktails, sees pre-mixed as a solution that’s embraced: “As an industry we have recently woken up to the idea that a cocktail does not have to be prepared in house. The growing numbers of customers who don’t only expect cocktail options but also know the standard, make it more and more important to have a solid cocktail offering even in a family restaurant or burger joint. The same applies to boutique hotels and minibars. As long as cost-per-serve allows the business to charge a reasonable price and make a desired GP, it’s a no-brainer.”





Comment

Philip Duff

Make safety sexy

It was the Worshipful Company of Distillers’ annual dinner at the Lord Mayor of London’s residence Mansion House a few weeks ago, and as a junior member of the Gin Guild I was permitted to attend, provided I promised not to pinch any silverware and did a little light sweeping afterwards.

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