What will be the It drink of 2020? Will boozy kombucha take over your Instagram feed? Perhaps the long-overlooked, humble gin and tonic will shine?
Those are possibilities, according to a new report by Nielsen forecasting the liquids we’ll be pouring down our throats in 2020. The company’s crystal ball is a good one to peer into — after all, it did dub hard seltzer “the breakout star” of the beverage world long before White Claw Summer gripped the nation.
And while 2020 could see some drinks’ profiles rise, hard seltzer isn’t giving up its spot on the throne, per the report.
All the trends that spurred the craze for the boozy fizz — including younger drinkers’ desire for more-healthful, lower-alcohol quaffs — will continue, it posits. The number of producers of hard seltzer will double, Nielsen says, with big brewers, mainstream brands, craft brewers and spirits companies all getting in the game.
And with all that competition, producers will be trying to break out of the pack, so look for new entrants to differentiate themselves with qualities like “higher ABV, healthy ingredients and features, bolder flavors.” The mania for all things “hard” could mean your kombucha or coffee will be spiked in 2020, it says.
While its predictions for seltzer are rosy, wine (save for a few categories, including rosé and prosecco) isn’t looking so good. And beer companies will probably be focused on “everything but beer,” it says, including getting into canned cocktails, traditional spirits and even wine. Speaking of canned cocktails, they’ll continue their march. “Many will be traditional cocktails with a twist to make them more interesting (e.g. Mezcal Mule),” the report says.
Overall, the trend is less. Lower-alcohol spirits, ready-to-drink cocktails and IPAs (as well as nonalcoholic beers) are all drinks to watch. And customers will be looking for “alternative beverages with no/low sugar and carbs, and low-calorie options,” the report says.
The report looked not just at what we’ll be buying in stores, but also at trends at bars and restaurants, too. In those settings, Nielsen says, drinkers will keep looking to lighten up, too, seeking alcohol-free options and lower-octane spritzes and “low-alcohol sherries, vermouths and sake options.” Vodkas will be hot, with sugar-free and diet options flourishing, and flavored options moving from the candy-flavored varieties of the past to natural ones such as yuzu and kumquat.
But, classicists, take heart: There’s hope for whiskey (with interesting flavor profiles) and even that old standby, the G&T. But this one is no old-school, post-golf quaff at the country club. It will be upscale — and probably ’grammed. “With increased distribution of premium tonics in the U.S., lower sugar content of premium mixers and the social shareability of a perfect cocktail, a path is being cleared for the rise of this trend,” the report finds. “Through a more premium experience, we expect gin and tonics to grow in popularity over the next year and finally have their moment in the spotlight.”
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