Alcohol and humanity; humanity and alcohol; the two are interwoven in some very complex ways and we can see this strange connection throughout human history. We drink alcohol for practically any reason imaginable, even making up ridiculous reasons to drink because “it’s always five o’clock somewhere!” Statistically, the top reasons for alcohol consumption are birthdays (83%),engagements (78%), anniversaries (77%), promotions (62%), and graduations (59%). There’s a drink for that and it’s the ready to drink cocktail.
The COVID pandemic of 2020 did increase our thirst for adult beverages (while probably decreasing our collective desire to be adults.) In fact, alcohol consumption rose by 14% from 2019 to 2020, with the top consuming demographics being millennials / Gen X’ers at 19%, and women at 17%. One does not have to speculate for long to think of some likely reasons why those two demographics were at the top of the list. Still, 2020 kicked all of us in the rear and it showed in our desire to loosen up with our favorite cocktails, and while bars were closed for much of the year, 44% of Americans began purchasing alcohol online, bringing online alcohol purchases up by 243% last year. Instacart also saw a rise in alcohol purchases as orders containing alcohol grew by more than 75%.
Another aspect of our pandemic experience relating to alcohol is that, much like during previous pandemics, such as the Spanish flu of 1918, our home bartending led us to create our own twist on adult drinks, such as the “Quarantini.” Some of the most popular Quarantinis are the Kombucha Quarantini with gin, kombucha, and blackberries; the Kumquarantine with rye whisky, kumquat syrup, lime juice, saffron liquor and egg whites; the Spring is Here with white vinegar, gin, mint, snap pea syrup, and chartreuse; and the Charmin Quarantini with vodka, cointreau, lime juice, simple syrup, and cranberry liqueur. Sounds tasty, right?
Quarantinis may actually rival their Spanish flu predecessors. Some of the cocktails to come out of the Spanish flu pandemic were the Corpse Reviver, the Penicillin Cocktail, and the Medicina Latina.
Of course, pandemics are far from the only source for cocktail inventions. The classic Gin & Tonic was created by Brits in the 19th century. They used it as a health tonic as they were traveling to hotter climates, like India. Naturally, some other cocktails were created just for fun, and for the love of the art. The Mai Tai, for example, was created in 1944 by Victor J. Bergeron, or “Trader Vic.” The original recipe included rum, orgeat, orange curacao, and simple syrup. It wasn’t until 1954 that the Royal Hawaiian Hotel added pineapple and orange juice for sweetness, thus creating the popular Mai Tai we know and love.
As human history has unfolded, we’ve brought cocktails right along with us and we are certainly not stopping that union today. The ready-to-drink cocktail is a twist on the classics that is currently making huge strides in its growing popularity. Twenty-twenty saw a 43% growth in worldwide purchases of ready-to-drink cocktails as most of us were forced to do our drinking at home. Ready-to-drink solved the problem of not having an “in-house” bartender, as they give us our favorite cocktails without the prep, mixing, and clean-up. Even though bars have started to reopen and drinking with friends has started to be something we enjoy once again, ready-to-drink cocktails are still on the rise. In fact, it’s expected that they will make up 20% of alcohol ecommerce by 2024.
Cocktails are a big part of human history, and ready-to-drink is the cocktail of the future.
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