44 drinks trends you need to know this year

16 June 2024, 10:00 AM
  • Speciality Food reveals what’s shaking up the drinks sector across multiple categories, from gin and juice, to mocktails and Margaritas
44 drinks trends you need to know this year

The drinks market has undoubtedly undergone a revolution in the last five years. People’s attitudes to alcohol consumption, health and functionality, alongside new HFSS regulations, have driven some serious NPD. Speciality Food has been following these developments closely to bring you the ultimate guide of what to stock this year.

1. ACV

Apple cider vinegar is fast catching up with kombucha as one of the coolest ways to boost wellbeing on the drinks market. Said to help reduce sugar spikes, and aid gut health and indigestion, there’s a whole new generation of products taking ACV out of the health food store setting, and into the mainstream. Most of what’s on the market fits in with HFSS regulations too – ideal for your grab-and-go fridge, cafe or restaurant. We like Jitterbug’s Berry Hop, which has just 50 calories per can, Apeal World’s lemon and mint infused Activate drink, and the Switchel from Willy’s ACV - a grown-up alcohol alternative made with apples grown, harvested and fermented by the Willy’s team.

2. Alcohol-free

Gen Z are increasingly moderating their alcohol intake. This, coupled with the growing desire nationwide to improve our health, has seen a lot of movement in the alcohol-free drinks sector, with new mocktails and intriguing non-alcoholic spirits being launched on a regular basis. In 2023 the low and no alcohol market in the UK grew by a staggering 11.2% according to Mintel. In store it’s worth hosting discovery days for the ‘sober curious’ to demonstrate how these products taste and can be used.

We like the fruitiness of Clean Co’s Clean G Rhubarb, distilled with botanicals, red berries and rhubarb, and Myth Drinks’ Myth Coconut White Cane – an IWSC gold-winning alternative to that coconut spirit you know and love. We’ve also been impressed by Kahol Spirits’ innovative non-alcoholic whisky and bourbon alternatives, which have been gaining traction with experts. Malt Abbey is a complex alternative to peated whisky, being smooth and mellow with notes of pear, leather, vanilla and coconut.

3. Botanical Rum

This is the way new rums are headed, say industry insiders. Inspired by the marketing of gin, which characterises itself by its wild and wonderful botanicals, spirits brands have been innovating behind closed doors, weaving homegrown and locally foraged ingredients into their blends. Incorporating aromatic grasses and herbs, to flowers and roots – rum is being taken to the next level. BORA Botanical Rum from Penryn Spirits is a modern take on Caribbean spiced rum with a Cornish botanical twist, using ingredients grow in surrounding fields and British orchards, including plum, quince, bay and nettle. Dunnet Bay Distillers’ Mapmaker’s Coastal Spiced Rum uses the distillery’s botanical expertise, combining twice distilled house rum with Caribbean rum Loch Calder water and local lemon verbena, scurvy grass, sea kelp and Scottish sea salt for a finish that tastes akin to a floral golden rum. And The Fynoderee Distillery, which prides itself on using local ingredients, uses foraged Manx Alexander seeds in its Glashtyn Spiced Manx Rum.

4. Cider

Craft cider really is having its day, with craft makers going back to the drink’s roots and celebrating its heritage origins, choosing apples and fermentation methods that give a nod to this farmhouse tipple. According to the Westons Cider Report, crafted ciders dominate growth in the category, with sales up by 12.2% in 2024. Look for ciders that use British apples. A crisp and perfect match for all cheeses. Two Farmers, known for sustainable crisps, recently launched a duo of traditional ciders, made in partnership with a local expert, using Herefordshire-grown apples. And Oliver’s Fine Cider is renowned for its pull focus on craft ciders, which aficionados adore, including The Next Big Thing – a sweet, keeved variety likened to “drinking liquid apples”. Recipe No 4 from Napton Cidery is a nice one for cheesemongers to stock too. Bold, slightly sparkling and sweet, it matches well with blue cheese and strong Cheddar. It’s made naturally using slow fermentation and wild yeasts, with apples from unsprayed orchards.

5. Coffee Spirits

The rise in popularity of espresso martinis has led to a boom in coffee-based spirits, from rum and vodka, even through to tequila. The very best have steeped the base with the coffee for a long time, to extract the beans’ heady aroma. Fair’s Cafe Liqueur is a smooth award-winning made using Fairtrade 100% Arabica coffee from Mexico, macerated for three weeks. Coffee-based cocktails are given a real punch with UK-made Cafe Solo – a cold brew, vodka-based liqueur with robust notes of dark druit, chocolate and vanilla. And Wild Knight’s ready mixed Espresso Martini has been a real hit. Made with the brand’s base vodka, crafted from British barley, the IWSC medal winner is blended with single-origin speciality cold brew coffee and Indonesian vanilla pods.

6. Craft Beer

The market may have slowed down a little, but beer lovers are still supporting the industry, buying in supermarkets, at specialist beer shops, and online. Insiders say they are drawn to three things - the maker (some have cult followings), can design, and interesting flavours, inspired by what’s trickling in from the States and Belgium. NEPIAs, DIPAs and porters and stouts are hitting the spot. Unlike in the craft-beer driven USA, where it’s more common to grab a six-pack of a single product, British beer drinkers are keen to try lots of different varieties.

7. Dairy

From boozy, creamy liqueurs (always a hit in the festive season) to thick, luscious milkshakes – there’s something for everyone in this category. Look for real dairy, with provenance, and products with short ingredient lists. Shaken Udder was one of the first brands to bring a bit of fun to this category with its products made from ethically sourced milk and having less than 5% added sugar and no artificial preservatives or flavours. The Real Milkshake Company in Devon is also doing good things. Aside from being made from fresh local milk, each product is packaged in 70% less plastic than a standard milkshake.

On the boozier end of the scale, Irish cream liqueurs continue to appeal. Coole Swan is a luxurious alternative to the usual suspects, mingling Irish whiskey, fresh cream and Belgian white chocolate.

8. Effervescent

Full on fizz isn’t for everyone. Sometimes what’s required is a soft, frothy collection of bubbles, a touch of sweetness, and a burst of fruit. Lower fizz drinks are gaining popularity year on year. Fior Fruit Merchants has a small collection of bright, juicy drinks that fit nicely in this category, each made with real fruit, 20% water and no added sugar. Breckland Orchard’s Posh Pops continue to appeal, and Quenched is making waves with its award-winning 100% natural soda containing less than 65 calories per can.

9. English Fizz

Sales of English sparkling wine are expected to expand at a CAGR of 4.7% from 2023 to 2032. A milder climate in the UK is contributing to the nation’s winemaking boom, with even French producers setting their sights now on English estates. Bottles from the Crouch Valley in Essex, Surrey Hills, and Kent are picking up awards and matching (or even rivalling) classics from the continent. Consumers, too, are keen to try them. Ridgeview’s Blanc de Blancs, produced with grapes from a year known as ‘England’s miracle vintage’ is worth a sample, as are the Classic Reserve NV from Hattingley Valley, and wines from Denbies – Britain’s first Net Zero wine producer.

10. Flavoured Water

Flavoured water has come a long way, with this space (once dominated by drinks with added sugar or artificial sweeteners) now filled with cans of delicious sparkling spring water, naturally flavoured and often sugar free. These make a really nice addition to cafe menus and grab-and-go chillers. And most are HFSS compliant too.

Names to look out for include Dash, which contains no calories, and is made with British spring water and rescued ‘wonky fruit’, and Marlish – using spring water from the Northumberland hills and natural flavourings. Even Sanpellegrino has got in on the action with its Essenza range, adding pops of fruit to its signature, gently bubbling water.

11. Functional

Functional’ is a buzz word in food and drink now - according to Mordor Intelligence the market is worth USD 213.74 billion in 2024. From CBD, to stress-relieving ashwaghanda, and added collagen, fibre or vitamins – consumers are being enticed by products that claim to help them on their journey to better sleep, health, mood and concentration levels. Free from sugar, Jamu Wild Water’s products cross categories with their gut-friendly prebiotic plant fibres, and immune-boosting botanicals. And we think Gunna Drinks’ Immune Boosting Twisted Lemonade is a winner. Coming in at only 66 calories, it has a really bright, zesty taste with hits of citrus, African mint and ginger, with added Vitamin C and zinc.

Consumers are also enjoying the award-winning elixirs from Three Spirit, whose Nightcap uses tree saps and aromatic plants to lull drinkers into a calmer, more dreamy night’s sleep.

12. Gut-Friendly

With every year that passes, more is discovered about the remarkable powers of our gut, which has been shown to drive immunity, mental health and much more. Gut-friendly drinks with cultures that boost our ‘good bacteria’ or added fibre to feed the organisms in our digestive system, are a massive area of growth right now.

Hip Pop’s Gut Lovin’s Soda in Cola flavour is very tasty, containing live cultures, and a quarter of your daily recommended intake of fibre. We think Fhirst’s Cherry Vanilla Living Soda (with 2 billion living cultures and 5g of prebiotic fibre in every can) is delicious. And Living Things is making great moves with its high fibre, low calorie, live culture-packed soda too.

13. Craft Gin

The gin craze continues with particular fervour from consumers for those infused with fruit or pink gins that brighten up al fresco occasions when paired with tonic and a garnish of ripe berries. Padstow Gin is a relative newcomer, inspired by the Cornish landscape and distilled with barley from a local farm, alongside locally foraged alexander stems, juniper, bay and citrus. Eden Mill’s Love Gin brings something a bit different to the pink gin category. Rather than being infused with raspberry its pastel hue and sweet taste comes from rhubarb and strawberries enhanced by vanilla, with a hint of rosewater.

And Cooper King Distillery is one to watch – being one of the most sustainable gin makers in the UK, with a lower energy distilling method, and incorporating its own homegrown botanicals and honey from bees living in hives around the HQ.

14. Grapefruit

Intrinsic to a Paloma (one of the cocktails de jour) grapefruit is fast catching up to lemon and lime in the world of citrus drinks. You’ll find it in liqueurs, gins, mocktails, juices, flavoured waters and even tequila. It’s the flavour to watch this year. One of our favourite uses for the citrus is in Pomello – an elderflower and grapefruit aperitif that lends itself to sophisticated summer spritzes. Vacay’s cool Paloma cocktail in a can is worth looking out for too. The RTD is made with mature Blue-Weber agave tequila, fresh pink grapefruit, lime juice and natural cane sugar.

15. HFSS compliant

HFSS is an acronym you’ll be seeing everywhere. Short for High Fat Sugar Salt, HFSS regulations were introduced by government in a bid to improve the health of the nation. In turn, they’ve spawned hundreds of new product lines from innovating and existing brands. Low sugar drinks, particularly, are generating a lot of interest in the category. But remember, consumers are also more fastidiously checking ingredients lists and labels. They’re being turned off by artificial sweeteners, colourings, flavours – anything that points to a product being ultra processed. 

16. Health

Health is key in the soft drinks market currently. Whether that be products that are low in sugar or completely natural, or those with added benefits for the body. There are inroads being made especially in women’s health when it comes to this category, with inclusions and infusions of ingredients such as ashwagandha to support menopause symptoms, and collagen, to boost the appearance of skin, hair and nails. Added vitamin and mineral claims on packs also appeal to parents looking for healthier alternatives for their children, and sportspeople and gym-goers.

Trip, known for its CBD drinks, has moved further into the functional arena with new mindful blends, such as Cucumber Mint, with magnesium, lion’s mane, ashwagandha and L-theanine to foster a sense of calm. Also infused with magnesium (and 50% of your daily recommended dose of vitamins C, D3, B6, B12, Niacin and Biotin) is Dr Funk’s Mango Violet drink, which contains no sugar or calories. Revibed is also making itself known in the health drink arena. Its sugar-free Raspberry & Acai contains green tea and calming ashwagandha extract, with just five calories per serving.

17. Honey

Mead is making a comeback in a big way. At shows in 2024 we’ve seen a real resurgence in this traditional honey-based drink, which is being used as a base for some truly distinctive, delicious products – particularly RTD cans of sparkling mead, which have similar characteristics to a German weissbeer, being floral, slightly sweet and complex.

Northumberland Honey Co is making some very delicious meads – each one crafted with a particular vintage of honey. We recently tried Calluna from Bemuse Drinks, which is naturally fermented with raw Scottish honey, tarragon, Thai basil and Cascasde hops for an earthy, herbaceous finish. And Hive Mind is bringing a contemporary touch to the market with its modern meads, honey rum, and sparkling RTD mead cans.

18. International Flavours

We live in an age of discovery and travel. The interconnection of cultures through travels to foreign climes and social media has fast tracked consumer demand for food and drink that reminds them of that holiday, or takes them to another place. While ‘offbeat’ drinks might not be your shelf staples, it’s worth having a few distinctive, talking point bottles at the ready for customers who crave something different. From lychee liqueurs and sake for noodle night, to rich American bourbons for barbecues, and Mexican spirits for taco parties.

We really like the Yuzu drink from Kiyoko. This extraordinary aperitif, made on the Japanese island of Honshu, brims with fresh yuzu juice, chosen for its tart, citrussy, blossom notes.

Limoncello di Capri’s original and Crema drinks are 100% natural, and a pure artisanal expression of the PGI Sorrento lemon peels which weave their way into every batch. And we found the nutty, toasted caramel and vanilla notes of Nixta’s Licor de Elote, which uses an ancient technique to extract the delicious sweetness from corn. A cool alternative to bourbon.

19. Juice

Consumers want two things from this category. Classic fresh juices (such as apple and orange) with no added nasties, and fresh new flavours that will expand their taste buds – think mango, lychee, mandarin, yuzu and more. Sustainable British brands made with homegrown fruit are winners, especially if sold in recyclable aluminium cans. When selecting apple juice look out for varieties pressed direct on the farm where the fruits are grown, and for single heritage bottles. According to Mintel, a third of UK adults asked expressed an interest in juices or smoothies made with 100% British ingredients.

Maynard House in Suffolk makes an impressive array of single fruit and complex blended juices using apples and pears from its own orchard. And new brand Juist, launched at Farm Shop & Deli Show 2024, brings the expertise of the fourth-generation apple growing McAlister family to the market. Its cans (sparkling or still) taste of the pure expression of a freshly picked fruit. 

20. Kombucha

The drink that livened up the gut-friendly category. Kombucha is everywhere now and is recognisable to consumers, who’ve been reading and listening about it for quite some time. The best have a gently fizzy, aromatic, slightly tart (but not vinegary) flavour. And many brands are honing in on their selection of tea, which brings even more delicacy to the glass. It’s becoming a go-to low sugar alcohol-free alternative for many. Suma has been exciting the market with its affordable kombucha cans in flavours such as Peach & Turmeric. Its latest launch, with the taste of cola, is already seeing good sales. LA Brewery founder Louise brings an edge to the market with her drinks, like Citrus Hops, which works nicely in place of lager in the pub garden.

And Oichi has just brought out its Elevated Elixir – a floral, delicious small batch kombucha sold in sharing bottles, and combining white grape, verbena, hops and citrus.

21. Kefir

First came kombucha – then came kefir. Consumers are already clued up on gut-friendly dairy, with cultured yoghurt and milk shots a regular weekly purchase for many health-conscious households. And many of them are now making the switch to this product, made by fermenting milk with kefir grains. It has a slightly sour, fizzy taste that’s hugely enhanced by the addition of fresh fruit. If dairy isn’t for you, Agua de Madre’s Water Kefir in flavours like Pink Grapefruit & Lime could well hit the spot. For the traditionalists, there are some nice products from Biokef and The Dorset Dairy Co.

22. Liqueur

No drinks cabinet is complete without a few bottles of liqueur. We’ve tried some stunning products in this category, from traditional fruit-infused spirits to others made with peanut butter, honey, botanicals…and even classic sweets. Consumers are looking for liqueurs they can drop into prosecco or Champagne for an interesting pre-dinner drink, and for unusual, delicious flavours to incorporate into cocktails.

The Sweet Potato Spirits Company offers something offbeat in the form of its Sweet Potato Pink Moonshine, tasting of fluffy vanilla mallows. Shanky’s Whip combines Irish whiskey with black liqueur for a slick pour that tastes of cream, vanilla and caramel. And we think O’Donnell Moonshine’s Peach variety, new in 2024, is going to go down very well with al fresco diners. Made with fresh peach juice and citrus, it’s gorgeous over ice on its own, or used in mixed drinks.

23. Margarita

Tequila’s take off has boosted sales of tequila-based drinks, from Palomas to classic Margaritas. The best RTDs in this category will be bar strength, made with a really good base spirit, and have a proper punch of lime, balanced with a touch of sweetness. Designed by bar experts, Mirror Margarita’s one of a kind clear ‘marg’ is a tart drop of joy, made with premium tequila, the brand’s homemade hacha sour mix, cane syrup and mixed grapefruit oils.

We like the sherbetty notes and mouth-watering salinity of World of Zing’s Persian Lime Nori Margarita. And in the RTD world Cutwater’s cool Lime Margarita brings a craft edge to the market.

24. Mocktails

Moderation is on the rise – especially for Gen Z and Gen Alpha who are seeking out cleaner, lower ABV or completely alcohol-free drinks, mindful of their health. The trend has sparked the launch of several non-alcoholic beverages, based on classic cocktails and mixed drinks, from the G&T to pina coladas, mojitos and more. These drinks have broad appeal and are a worthwhile category to invest in.

Some of our top tipples include Belvoir Farm’s Rhubarb & Ginger G&T, and Punchy’s Blood Orange, Bitters & Cardamom drink.

25. Mixers

It’s a not-so-well-kept-secret that a good tonic or mixer will ‘open up’ a spirit, unlocking its potential. Though there are plenty of sipping spirits on the market today, designed to be enjoyed simply over ice, the majority are enhanced and given new life by a splash of something sparkling. As across the whole food and drink sector, it’s natural products, made without anything artificial, that are driving sales here, alongside interesting flavour profiles that can also be enjoyed on their own as an alternative to soft drinks or alcohol. Double Dutch has some interesting options, such as the Pomegranate & Basil Mixer, which goes a treat with most white spirits. We really like Two Keys’ Pink Grapefriut Soda, and Lamb & Watt’s pretty Hibiscus Tonic Water too. It’s also worth looking at Fitch & Leedes. Now distributing in the UK, the brand is a pouring partner for more than 130 spirits brands. Its Pink Tonic, with rose and cucumber, is stunning with gin.

26. Mezcal

No celebration in Mexico is complete without a few shots of mezcal. It may not have the immediate appeal or stellar growth in the UK that tequila has seen, but with interest in Mexican food and ingredients growing year on year, so continues the hunt by consumers for drinks to pair with their meals. Made by crushing wood-fired agave, and fermenting with airborne yeast and water, the clear spirit has a smoky, distinctive taste that matches well with burritos, tacos and chilli.

27. Natural Energy

Gym-going, running, and cycling consumers are ditching the colourful, plastic-packed, artificial energy drinks in favour of products that deliver a buzz from nature. Be it cold brew coffee, green tea, or herbal extracts, they want to know that what they put in their body is supportive to health. Stock drinks that are ideally in recyclable cans and made with natural ingredients only. Brands to seek out include Virtue, Mango-Go, and Rokit.

28. Organic

Organic still matters to shoppers, who are becoming increasingly concerned about what they are putting in their bodies. Organic, as a category, particularly resonates with parents, who are looking for low intervention squash, smoothies, flavoured waters and juices for their children. Karma Drinks has been a leader in this field for some time, and its Kola, and ‘punky’ pink lemonade (Organic Razza) are real customer favourites. Designed by parents, Pip Organic’s juice cartons were made for lunch boxes. Plus Gusto Organic has some very nice options, including all the classics, and some enticing sodas with a twist. We especially like the Real Cherry Cola, pairing organic cherry juice with Fairtrade Madagascan vanilla, lemon juice, organic blue agave syrup, spices, essential oils, and extract of kola nut.

29. Posh Squash

The ultimate portable refreshment. Formally written cordials and squash drinks have been around since the 18th century – and they remain incredibly popular today, especially during picnic season when they can easily be stowed away in a basket with a bottle of sparkling or still water to refresh a crowd. The classics such as orange and blackcurrant are must stocks. But look too for varieties made with wild, hedgerow ingredients, or tropical additions. Consumers are really backing British here. Check out Norfolk Cordial (the Red Gooseberry & Elderflower Cordial is great), Cornish Country Cordials, and Mr Fitzpatrick’s, whose Lemon, Yuzu & Turmeric Cordial is bang on trend

30. Quirky

It’s time for something a little bit different. Alongside your sodas, spirits, squash, RTD cocktails and bottled and canned beer, being able to deliver unusual products that catch the eye with their quirkiness is a way of keeping your drinks offering fresh. Be it a unique format or decidedly different profile, showcasing your talent for sourcing products customers can’t find in the multiples will keep shoppers coming back for more. High on our radar are the awesome Tropical Ginger Beer from Sunnyside Drinks (with added pineapple and passionfruit), Butterfly Cannon’s colour-changing Blue Tequila (which tastes of watermelon, strawberry and fig), and Warrendale Wagyu’s stunning wagyu fat-washed gin, with its citrussy notes of lemongrass, ruby grapefruit and pink peppercorn.

31. RTD Cocktails

From a few cans nestled somewhere between the tonic water and mini bottles of ‘cooking wine’, to dominating whole sections of the drinks aisle – RTD cocktails are now a must stock category. Shoppers are looking for cool labels (to show off at their barbecues) bar strength mixes, and a combination of classics alongside newer, up-and-coming varieties such as palomas. The old fashioned, Manhattan and negroni are all showing strong sales. Some of our favourite brands are The Cocktail Co, Niche Cocktails, and Angel’s Dare, whose Cheeky Wee Kiss is one of our top drinks of 2024.

32. Spicy

Spice as a flavour/sensation is really hitting the spot for consumers at the moment. Spicy and swicy snacks have been everywhere at trade shows in 2024, and our penchant for heat is trickling into the drinks industry. We’ve been spotting spicy Margaritas, spiced tomato juice, cordials infused with chilli and citrus, and spirits given a lick of heat with fruity chillies such as jalapeno. This is another trend that fits neatly into the Mexican category. Offering a few warming drinks alongside your tacos and nachos is a nice bit of companion retailing.

Look out for Mixtons’ Spicy Melons RTD – the brand’s take on a Margarita, combining premium tequila with lime, watermelon and chilli to put a tingle on your tongue. We think Pure Kaktai’s refreshing Jalapeno & Lime Cactus Water is a joy too.

33. Sour Beer

Experts in the industry say sour beer is the one to watch as modern craft varieties help shake off consumer perception that this type of brew is a bit ‘funky’ or ‘farmyardy’. While, of course, those types of traditional sour exist, today’s beer lover has access to even more exciting variety than before, with flavours erring towards sherbet or fizzy sweets. Served chilled they are incredibly refreshing and, some say, are beginning to be chosen over cider in store for their fruity profiles. Leading the way in sours is Vault City, which beer retailers love for its off-beat designs and truly inventive flavours. How about Strawberry White Choc Crunch Doughnut?

34. Sparkling Red Wine

Could red overtake sparkling, rose and white wine as the bottle of choice for summer dining in the UK? The answer right now is probably a firm ‘no’ as consumers are conditioned to imagine themselves reclining in the garden with a glass of something, chilled, pale and elegant. Wine merchants, though, say sparkling red is something more retailers should be exploring. Bubbly Shiraz is the drink of choice for outdoor eating and barbecues in Australia. Lightly chilled and set alongside burgers, steak or even grilled salmon, it’s (they say) a match made in heaven. It’s certainly worth trying a bottle or two out on customers near your butchery section to see what their appetite is.

35. Sustainable

Sustainability is high on the wish list for consumers when they’re shopping, alongside clean labels and no added nasties. They want to know that the people making their food and drink have taken care to reduce their carbon footprint, consider the environment, and package their products in a responsible way. Signpost any brands you stock that you feel deliver over and above on being green. Brands that have caught our eye this year include Pod Pea (a vodka made using British pea pods), the carbon negative Two Drifters rum, made in Devon, and Adnams’ spirits, made using all renewable energy.

36. Tequila

There is no doubting the prominence of tequila in the market right now. From clear, artisanal varieties, to fun bottles of tequila rose, it is absolutely everywhere, both in large format bottles, and within the RTD sector. Consumers new to tequila are trying lots of different types before they settle on a favourite, so in-store tastings are a must. Seek out bottles with sustainable claims, and those using prized Blue Weber agave, which is renowned for its superior taste. We’re drinking Casa Rayos Tequila, which has notes of lime, orange zest, spicy cracked black pepper and pink peppercorn, and the award-winning 89 from Enemigo – aged for more than 12 months in custom made American oak barrels, and triple filtered for clarity.

37. Turmeric

The power of curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has had scientists and those in the health arena talking for decades. Some claim it can help prevent the build up of plaques in the brain that cause dementia, others cite it as good for reducing inflammation, or boosting immunity. While clearly drinks manufacturers can’t big up any medicinal qualities, they can tap into the zeitgeist, and consumer demand for products that just might help increase their wellbeing. And so turmeric has made the leap from the health food store to the mainstream. It’s being used in cordials, spirits, sodas and juices…and customers are happily tucking anything with turmeric into their baskets.

38. Unique

These are the drinks that kind of break the mould. That break boundaries in the way they are made, the flavours used, or even their format. We really do like something a bit ‘different’ in the UK. We celebrate diversity, and that goes for what goes into our glass too. Brands we’ve noticed coming up through the ranks include Wine That’s Fruit (WTF), which uses traditional winemaking methods to craft wines from berries such as blackcurrants and whitecurrants, tea and spirit infusions from Noveltea

39- Vodka

Retailer, Masters of Malt, predicted earlier this year that vodka would be the spirit to watch in 2024. It’s no longer being sidelined as a bland, clear forgettable liquid to slosh into other drinks to up their ABV, it’s become a movement in its own right. Makers are carefully considering the base grain (or perhaps root veg) they use, and the sustainability of their methods, and are increasingly adding botanicals and gentle flavourings to create layered, complex sipping vodkas with a clean, smooth taste that stands alone. We’ve tried lots over the last 12 months, and some of the best-tasting include Holy Grass from Dunnet Bay Distillers (which is super fragrant thanks to its infusion of local holy (bison) grass), the supremely smooth Nine Tines Potato Vodka, and Desi Daru’s luscious Alphonso Mango Vodka.

40. Whisky

Considered the height of sophistication, whisky has a cool new edge, with new generations of family makers taking the reins and looking to attract a younger market. It’s definitely working, with whisky-based cocktails such as the Old Fashioned being some of the most popular today in an RTD format. According to insiders consumers are paying more for their whisky, seeking out super premium bottles. And they’re no just looking to Scotland or Ireland…Japanese whisky’s star is rising too. We’ve been particularly impressed by the Dram in a Can series from Irish brand Two Stacks, which includes pot still double barrel-aged varieties, and their take on a whiskey cream.

41. Wild

Consumers, looking for more nature-driven products, are being lured towards drinks that hint at the wilderness. Foraged herbs. Botanicals. Hedgerow and orchard fruits and berries. They bring a touch of homegrown exoticism to the glass. Elderflower is a perennial favourite that will always sell well, but look too for wild plums and cherries, sea buckthorn and even gorse flower, which adds a heady coconut flavour to food and drink. Nuisance Drinks makes its low-calorie sparkling drinks with 100% natural ingredients, including herbs and wild plants often considered a ‘nuisance’. The brand’s Mint, Cucumber & Chilli is a great summer cooler. Artisan Drinks pushes the boundaries of the tonic and mixers category with its flavours such as Violet Blossom, with violet, apple blossom and elderflower, and Tame & Wild’s drinks are inspired by the English countryside – including Damson & Rosehip, which has less than 40 calories per bottle.

42. X-rated

Who doesn’t like a naughty tipple? This one’s really just for a bit of fun. We’re talking beers and spirits with names that cut to the wire. They’re usually reserved for Valentine’s Day or Christmas, to be tucked into those stockings. Very seasonal, but it’s worth having a few cheeky bottles in stock for customers who like to put a big smile on the faces of their friends and family! The Bottle Shop, from Cottage Delight, has lots of options across the category, including its ever popular Old Farts range.

43. Yuzu

Has there been a series of Masterchef or Bake Off: The Professionals that hasn’t included yuzu in recent years? The answer is no. This Asian ingredient has risen through the ranks to become one of the flavours of the moment in pastry, baking and drinks. Its flavour sits somewhere along the lines of mandarin, grapefruit and lime. Tantalisingly exotic, and beautifully fragrant. Shoppers are drawn to its mystique. Lok out for the low calorie rose-vanilla scented cherry blossom and pure yuzu sparkling water from Sansu, Lin Gin’s Yuzu Gin (made in Scotland with yuzu, meadowsweet and orange peel), and Something & Nothing’s Yuzu Premium Soda.

44. Zesty

Why is it that we love a zippy glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade, or the tang of grapefruit? It’s tartness. That juicy, mouth-watering sensation which has us coming back for more time and time again. It excites the palate, opens up the taste buds, and creates that feeling of refreshment. No wonder citrus flavours dominate the drinks industry. It’s worth investing in zesty flavours across every category in stock, from juices and sodas, to functional, spirits and even beers!

Check out Ciroc’s Summer Citrus Vodka, kissed with a squeeze of juicy bloody orange and lime, Virtue Brewing’s boozy Poolside Lemonade, and the Pink Citrus Gin from Pangolin, distilled with rare African botanicals, grapefruit, sweet orange and pink peppercorn.

 

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