Bacardi’s top 5 cocktail trends for 2024: Escapism elixirs, tech-enhanced tastes, and more

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

From botanicals to BarGPT, Bacardi places its bets on 2024's biggest cocktail trends
From botanicals to BarGPT, Bacardi places its bets on 2024's biggest cocktail trends

Related tags Bacardi Cocktails AI Artificial intelligence Machine learning spirits Technology Sustainability

Releasing its fifth annual Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report this month, the spirits giant highlights the key trends that will redefine cocktail culture and the spirits business in 2024.

Created in collaboration with strategic foresight consultancy, The Future Laboratory, the trend predictions also draw on insights from Bacardi-led and external research and interviews with bartenders alongside expertise from the consultancy.

“As 2024 arrives, people are looking to settle into the unsettled – welcoming tastes of optimism into our reality,” says Brenda Fiala, Global Vice President of Strategy, Insights & Analytics at Bacardi.

“In this landscape, people are reshaping cocktail culture, infusing it with fresh perspectives and finding memorable experiences back at the bar with friends.

"From redefining moderate drinking to a surge in sustainable attitudes, Bacardi is at the forefront, championing a world where people-driven cocktail culture thrives through innovation, experimentation, and overall better moments.”

Bacardi's portfolio includes global brands Patron tequila, Bombay Sapphire gin, Martini vermouth, Grey Goose vodka, Dewar's blended Scotch and St-Germain elderflower liqueur, among others.

From consumers' desire to dabble in dark spirits to the potential of BarGPT, here's what the company is looking out for in 2024.

Limited Libations

1 debby lewis harrison

It’s no surprise to hear that the next generation of drinkers are embracing a ‘less but better’ approach.

What does that mean in practice? Firstly, it means the premiumization trend in spirits and liquors shows no signs of abating - in fact, the opposite. Despite economic upheaval, IWSR research shows growth in all alcohol categories in the premium and prestige price tiers.

In the Bacardi Global Consumer Survey, seven in 10 respondents globally said that they’d pay more for quality spirits when choosing a drink – ranked as the number one reason for respondents across the United States, Spain, France, Germany, Tokyo and the UK. And premium spirits are top of mind for younger cohorts too, with 41% of U.S. respondents aged 21–44 looking to seek more premium spirits next year.

Meanwhile, there’s an increasingly popular approach to spirits as a small luxury and ‘elevated lifestyle’ product. That might mean limited-edition bottles that turn into coveted collectors items; or partnerships from home accessories to jewelry (In honor of its 125th​ anniversary, ABERFELDY Single Malt Scotch Whisky launched an exclusive collaboration with jeweler Nigel O-Reilly, with the pieces drawing inspiration from ABERFELDY’s homeland and history).

It also means a continued boom in NoLo categories. Expect to see brands look to blends, ingredients and processes that signpost the flavor of non-alcoholic serves, rather than ‘free-from’ marketing.

Innovative Aging & Blending

2 dark spirits getty gabriel cuesta

2024 will ‘usher in an era of innovation’ for dark, aged spirits, with brands embracing unique aging methods and novel flavor combinations.

Distillers are venturing into uncharted territory, discovering new sources of innovation in the expanding category.

With its deep smoky flavors, tequila’s cousin – mezcal – is ‘ripe for re-invention’, with bartenders predicting a wave of premiumization in 2024.

Meanwhile, look out for bold and unexpected pairings: or regional experimentation bringing spicy, fruity, and zesty profiles in innovative formats.

Bacardi Caribbean Spiced – the brand’s first premium spiced aged rum – combines the ‘unique sweetness and floral notes of coconut blossom and juice pineapple with cinnamon, vanilla and the subtle oaky char from the barrel in which the rum is aged’.

Bacardi Mango Chile – inspired by a popular Mexican street food – pairs natural mango extracts and fiery chili spice with Bacardi Carta Blanca rum – ‘combining globally favored sweet and fruity notes with something unexpected’.  

Escapism Elixirs

3 elixir getty nastasic

Cocktail culture is transporting consumers across destinations, countries and even eras – as classic spritzes and ornate sips help to recreate nostalgic, convivial moments year-round.

In 2024, the link between drinks and destinations will deepen, predicts Bacardi - with classic cocktails and European flavors whisking drinkers from the beach to the bar.  

Exotic and holiday-tinged flavors such as olive oil, calamansi, pomelo and guava are trending: almost two-thirds of global consumers find exotic foods and beverages from around the world appealing, while almost three quarters say they like products with new, unusual tastes, according to Mintel.

This evolution isn't just about where but also when consumers enjoy drinks: for example, Bacardi research indicates a shift away from nightclubs to festivals as ‘the new hub for revelry’.  In South Africa and India, more than one-third of respondents are looking to enjoy more sundowner cocktails over the next year, and approximately a quarter in the U.S. and Mexico (27%) and Spain (26%).

Notes of Nature

4 nature botanicals getty ivan bajic

With screen fatigue, doom scrolling and global uncertainty on the rise, consumers are turning back to nature.

Expect, therefore, to see brands and bartenders take a holistic approach to nature and its flavors in 2024: harnessing sustainably sourced aromatics, florals, botanicals and oils to create cocktail experiences uniquely rooted in nature.

Consumers, too, will reframe their relationship to the natural world, impacting where they spend their time, the brands they support, and what they consume.
With a resurgence in next-gen outdoor activities and a growing emphasis on sustainability, drinks brands are redefining their connection to the environment through intentional ingredients and eco-friendly practices.

According to the Bacardi Global Consumer Survey 2023, 44% of respondents in Canada and 43% of younger respondents in the U.S. intend to consume more cocktails made with natural ingredients in 2024. In emerging markets, the numbers are even higher with 51% in India, 47% South Africa and 44% in Mexico.

The top sustainability concerns for consumers are reducing single-use plastic, using recyclable packaging, helping preserve clean water, buying local, reducing carbon footprints, and sustainably sourced ingredients.

Tech-Enhanced Tastes

5 drinks technology getty ilya lukichev

Digital advancements mean we need to visit the ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ drinks are enjoyed: providing all-new routes to personalization, brand experience and community.

As consumers increasingly seek personalized brand interactions, AI is introducing exciting opportunities for tailored cocktail experiences, accessible anytime and anywhere. 

For the drinks industry, AI’s evolution will create all-new paths to experimentation and discovery, with brand innovators using the technology as a tool to bring consumers closer to branded cocktails and experiences, regardless of their location.

Take, for example, BarGPT: an AI cocktail generator featuring almost 14,000 user-generated recipes to date. The platform allows users to enter ingredients, spirit, themes or even movies: before creating a virtual cocktail and accompanying recipe.

But despite the novelty new tech brings, Bacardi highlights that it won’t replace bartenders. While 8 in 10 younger consumers across select markets are looking to explore AI recommendations, they are adamant about maintaining the emotional connection and artistic finesse that only bartenders can provide.

Pictures top to bottom: getty/5PH; getty/debbylewisharrison; getty/gabrielcuesta; getty/nastasic; getty/ivanbajic; getty/ilyalukichev

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