According to Hywel Evans, category manager at Diageo, cocktails were worth £624m to the on-trade pre-pandemic, with the most popular serves – top five in order; Passion Fruit Martini; Mojito; Long Island Iced Tea; Sex on the Beach and the Espresso Martini – evolving over time.
The Passion Fruit Martini is a mainstay of the best sellers list – making up over one-in-five cocktails sold – while the Espresso Martini is a new entrant.
"If we look at the cocktails that are most popular, there's a bit of a mix of real classics and then more premium options that have really started to come to the fore, certainly over the last two or three years,” he tells The Morning Advertiser.
"We have seen subtle changes within the top ten, and we always do from year to year.”
Evans cites Google Trends data, which saw the number of people searching for cocktail recipes grow, at its peak, by about 340% year-on-year during lockdown as evidence that consumers were looking to replicate on-trade experiences at home.
“It's great to see consumers were still really engaged in cocktail culture even when bars haven't been open,” he says.
What's more, Evans has seen drinkers move away from just ordering cocktails at what are considered to be their traditional occasion – they're second only to wine in terms of "with food" occasions.
"They're choosing them for a real variety of occasions nowadays,” he adds. “That hasn't always been the case. They're being enjoyed in a far wider set of circumstances, whether that's a sociable get-together with friends at the pub, whether it's a night out with your other half, or maybe just a treat with dinner.
"We've seen a huge growth in cocktails over the past few years, and distribution has definitely been a big part in that. Prior to Covid cocktails were served in more than 43,000 outlets and that had been growing for years."
Despite the recent surge, Evans is unequivocal in his belief that cocktails will become more popular still in the on-trade.
"After a long time away from the trade, people have really missed socialising with their friends and family out of home in a different environment,” he explains. “There is certainly going to be greater demand to create memorable moments this summer and beyond, and cocktails will for sure be a big part of that as they're an incredibly memorable serve when done correctly.
"With cocktails becoming part of wider occasions, with couples' nights out, meet-ups with friends, there's even more opportunity here than ever before.
Diageo’s team of drinks experts have come together to share top tips and advice this summer in preparation of reopening and share how to maximise trading through a category worth £624m.
There are many ways to do this, from encouraging exploration to focusing on key occasions.Download the report now to find out more.
 (CGA Mixed Drinks Report Q1 2020 – Volumetric sales data) CGA Mixed Drinks Q3 2020 – Volumetric sales data CGA Mixed Drinks Q3 2020 – Volumetric sales data CGA Mixed Drinks Q3 2020 – Volumetric sales data Source is www.trends.google.com – looking at searches for ‘cocktail recipe’ in the UK. It is +340% on week commencing 5th April 2020 vs. week commencing 7th April 2019 Kantar Alcovision 12 m/e data to 31st March 2020 CGA mixed drinks report Q1 2020