From tequila to botanicals: Bacardi talks summer spirit trends

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Bacardi Tequila spirits Cocktails low alcohol RTD alcohol Us

What's big in the US spirits scene this summer? Sean Eckhardt, Senior Vice President of US Sales at Bacardi, explains how the company has shaped its portfolio for the summer months - along with his take on the trending tequila, RTD alcohol, and lower alcohol categories.

As the largest privately held spirits company in the world, Bacardi produces and markets internationally recognized spirits and wines covering more than 200 brands and labels: including Bacardi rum, Grey Goose vodka, Patron tequila and Bombay dry gin.

BD: What are the top trending spirits this summer?

SE: Summer is one of the most popular periods for spirits sales for the year. The power period kicks off with Memorial Day as the official start of summer all the way through Labor Day as people look to capture final days of that summer feeling. We’re already seeing sales for our rum, gin, tequila and vodka brands show robust double-digit growth this summer vs the first half of the year. It’s no surprise that these spirits are in such high demand as they pair easily with the tropical and fresh flavors that are popular in the summertime.

The trend for premiumization also has a role to play, as consumers have developed a deeper appreciation and desire for high quality spirits in their cocktails through the pandemic. Our premium spirit brands are category leaders, and we see consumers gravitate towards recognizable brand names that signal quality such as BACARDÍ rum, GREY GOOSE vodka, PATRÓN tequila, and BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin. 

BD: What's popular on the cocktail scene at the moment?

SE: Classic summertime cocktails like the Piña Colada, Daiquiri, and Margarita remain some of the most sought after cocktails this summer. We also see consumers reach for spritz cocktails when weather warms up as their drink of choice during daytime and mid-tempo energy occasions.

There is also an increased curiosity for spirits with lower alcohol content as drinkers replace wine and sparkling wines with lighter cocktail options. Our GREY GOOSE Essences range [pictured above], at 30% abv, gluten free and with all natural botanical ingredients and only 73 calories per serve, makes for a refreshing spritz cocktail. Our delicious ST-GERMAIN spritz, made with the elderflower liqueur, soda and prosecco, is another popular spritz choice for the season.

BD: What flavors are trending in spirits this summer?

SE: Tequila remains a perennial favorite and is continuing to trend high through the summer. And while flavor trends come and go every summer, people always gravitate back to tequila classics of the Margarita and Paloma.

For those looking for floral flavors, our GREY GOOSE Essences brings a line offers a lineup of vibrant, botanical flavors perfect for summer. The new lower ABV line offers variants of Strawberry & Lemongrass, White Peach & Rosemary, and Watermelon & Basil. Each are designed to be enjoyed in a simple serve with just soda water, ice, and garnish.

BD: What is Bacardi’s best-selling product over the US summer months?

SE: BACARDÍ rum is always a staple for summertime classics. Following the iconic rum brand’s 1,000th award milestone, BACARDÍ launched its “Move Like It’s Summer” creative ad campaign, encouraging everyone to embrace their summer selves, seize the flavor of life, and soak up every ounce of sunshine this summer with BACARDÍ in hand.

The campaign depicts the colorful flavors of the season with vibrant visuals that pop in each scene, exemplifying the style and swag of a BACARDÍ-fueled summer. The ad makes me want to head to the beach to connect with friends over refreshing cocktails.

Among the summer favorites is BACARDÍ Coconut, showing a 20% increase for summer and multiple years of double-digit growth.

bacardi coconut landscape

We’re also seeing a spike in canned cocktail sales for our BACARDÍ Real Rum Canned Cocktail range as well as for the CAZADORES 100% agave tequila RTDs.

Our consumers love that these premium prepared cocktails are gluten-free and contain all-natural flavors, real ingredients, and no artificial sweeteners.      

BD: RTDs tap into the summer occasion perfectly, with their portability and convenience for outside events. What does Bacardi offer in this category in the US; and how are they tailored to what consumers are looking for?

SE: We’ve been leading innovation in this space with our launches of new flavors for our BACARDÍ Real Rum Canned Cocktails this summer - including a new BACARDĺ Piña Colada and a Mojito Variety Pack with new Mango Mojito and Strawberry Mojito variants. The BACARDÍ Real Rum Canned Cocktail range use BACARDÍ Superior as the base spirit with real sugarcane and all natural flavors. Our delicious new flavors join what’s already a strong lineup, including longtime summer favorites like Rum Punch and the Bahama Mama.

In the hot tequila category, CAZADORES brings the always popular Margarita, Spicy Margarita and Paloma cocktails to the can. These are made with natural flavors and a hint of 100% Agave tequila for sweetness. 

Gin is another popular summer drink. During the pandemic we saw double-digit growth for BOMBAY SAPPHIRE as people turned to trusted brands when embracing at-home mixology. This became a launching pad for our new BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Gin & Tonic and Gin & Tonic light canned cocktails which bring the ever-popular G&T to your outdoor picnic, boat day or backyard celebration.

All of our premium canned cocktails are perfect for those who want the convenience of canned cocktails but don’t want to sacrifice on taste.

bacardi bombay g t

BD: How big a chunk of Bacardi’s summer sales do you anticipate RTDs will actually account for? Are RTDs as big a deal as we’re led to believe?

SE: Research in our 2022 Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report shows that, in the U.S., 80% of consumers plan on drinking RTD cocktails this year. What we’re bringing to the table are premium prepared cocktails with a high-quality spirit base and natural and refreshing flavor. The RTD trend has been on fire for some time now and we continue to see growth in the category soar, even as people return to drinking occasions in bars and restaurants.

RTDs are one of the fastest growing categories, according to IWSR. For Bacardi, the category has grown significantly since 2019 becoming our third largest category by volume in off-premise spirits sales.

RTD volume rises significantly during the summer, beginning Memorial Day Weekend and through September. For Bacardi, we expect to see average monthly sales for the RTDs across our portfolio double from May through September, compared with January to April on average.

BD: I don’t believe we’ve seen a hard seltzer from Bacardi yet...

SE: Our investment bets are based on categories we’re seeing our consumers gravitate towards –premiumization, convenience, flavorful natural ingredients, lower ABV, and more. We’ve seen stellar demand for our premium prepared cocktails and continue to invest in this category to create spirit-based canned cocktails across our premium portfolio of brands.

Premium prepared cocktails are expected to be the fastest growing spirits category for a third year in a row, according to IWSR. Investing in spirit-based RTDs has proven successful with estimates from IWSR showing that this sub-category grew by 53% in the U.S. last year, around double the growth of the wine and malt-based RTDs. Also, premixed cocktails were the fastest-growing spirits category in the country in 2021, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.

sean eckhart
Sean Eckhardt: 'I enjoy Martini & Rossi Fiero mixed with tonic water and plenty of ice - it's perfect for a summer aperitivo moment'.

Aside from RTDs, we are also innovating in the low alcohol space, another growing category. As mentioned before, the GREY GOOSE Essences tapped into this mindset by boasting all-natural ingredients, zero sugar or carbs, and only 30% ABV. We bet big on the launch last year, making it the biggest investment in GREY GOOSE since the launch of GREY GOOSE.

Another innovation in the mindful drinking space is MARTINI & ROSSI Fiero which, at only 14.9% ABV, offers a low alcohol alternative.

MARTINI & ROSSI Fiero is made with a blend of white wines and botanicals including Spanish orange peel that has been cut and dried according to a traditional technique from Murcia. The citrus aromas are as appealing as the vibrant red color of the drink.

All pictures: Bacardi

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