Diageo releases World Class: Future of Cocktails report

30 September 2016

Diageo wants the world to drink better. To this end, it unveiled the World Class: Future of Cocktails report yesterday at the World Class Bartender of the Year Global Final competition in Miami.

The report explores the future trends of cocktails, from controversy cocktails to drinks with feelings. The report shows how cocktail culture is booming and shows no signs of stopping – with forecasts that by 2020 there will be 400m new consumers drinking luxury spirits.

Ask anyone in the know what the two leading cities for cocktails are, and they'll probably say London and New York. The report shows, however, that the industry is growing on a global scale. Consumption of spirits has risen by 26% in Africa and the Middle East, 15% across Asia and 22% in China in the last five years.

Operation Dagger's ceiling of light bulbs
Operation Dagger's ceiling of light bulbs

Partnering with future consultancy The Future Laboratory, the World Class report aims to reveal cocktail trends that are set to change and improve drinking experiences, as well as themes to look out for.

The report is split into three sections, Controversy Cocktails, Emotional Cocktails and Fluid Identity Patrons – all with many different themes explored.

The first, Controversy Cocktails, looks at the time people spend online, and how this supposedly makes us more opinionated than ever. The section explores how people are looking to brands to do the same things, revealing 40% of people want a more purposeful brand. It also states that the next generation of bartenders are more willing to voice their opinions and are giving up on trying to please all of the people, all of the time.

The section features an anecdote from Benjamin Padrón Novo, owner of Mexico's Licoreria Limantour: 'I always get customers asking me to sweeten the drinks we serve, even though by doing so it'll dilute the taste of the spirit or the fruit. So, now, we just say no – and explain our reason to the guest. It's all part of the education process.'

It also reports on performance art and provocative theatre – triggering reactions from customers – and the next generation menu – revealing how innovative bartenders are now going against the traditions of the trade and thinking of creative ways to navigate menus and name cocktails. It uses the example of Operation Dagger in Singapore, where a cloud of light bulbs on the ceiling greets drinkers, and with an installation of fake CCTV cameras in the toilets.

San Francisco bar Trick Dog's menu
San Francisco bar Trick Dog's menu

The second section, Emotional Cocktails, details how people now value experiences over possessions, with people looking for deeper connections to brands.

Exploring the trend that bartenders have always been early adaptors when it comes to connecting with people, the report looks at how bar owners and drinks brands are now establishing more innovative ways to connect with customers. These include 'cocktails with feelings', where cocktails are listed by mood or emotion instead, 'story in a glass', where cocktails are used as a story to transport drinkers and the new trend, 'the micro-friend', where bartenders focus on building relationships with customers in the short time that they have with them.

The final section, Fluid Identity Patrons, reveals that according to the UN, 232m people are living outside the country they were born in, revealing the trend that bar owners are now catering for drinkers who disregard conformity.

The Future of Cocktails report also explores the subject of gender, revealing that bartenders are now using gender neutral language to name and serve cocktails, phasing out drinks being considered 'manly' or 'girly'. It also reveals that more men are enjoying rosé, with more women ordering Old Fashioneds.

How the role of a bartender is evolving is also covered in the report, revealing how global competitions show how bartending now relies on a variety of intricate skills. There are also more career prospects as bars invest in their staff more than ever.

For more information visit the World Class Website.

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