Drink Trends February 2024

February 20, 2024

Drink Trends February 2024

Social bubbles

The bubble drink trend isn’t about to burst. What began as a combination of sweet milk tea and tapioca pearls in 1980s Taiwan has now become blends of flavours, textures and styles.

Fizzy creations offer double bubble, serving Boba pearls in sodas and even energy drinks. And even coffees, shakes and smoothies have been twisted to suit the Boba trend. Bubble shakes and smoothies offer extra texture, usually with familiar or fruity flavours. Boba slushies use similar flavours within traditional bubble tea recipes, essentially making them trendy iced teas. And a new protein powder is building on the familiarity of traditional Boba tea flavours. While it has no boba pearls in, it uses the tea flavours synonymous with the category.

Alcoholic Bubble Teas

With the category gaining so much popularity, DIY and RTD bubble drinks are on the rise now too. Kits offer premade Boba pearls and bases for drinkers to mix and match flavours at home, and even alcoholic bubble drinks are being explored now – like Bobba’s alcoholic bubble teas in Canada.

The category has grown to such a scale because bubble drinks align with a range of drinks industry trends – their playful feel, their customisable nature, and their enhanced sensory offering, to name just a few. They’re intrinsically ‘social’ too, boasting colours and toppings to be snapped and shared on social media.

What’s on top can be as attractive as what’s in bubble teas – like CUPP’s Cloudbake bobas, topped with salty vanilla-infused cream cheese and Lotus biscuit crumb. Jelly can add extra layers and texture to Boba drinks too, suiting their nostalgic, playful feel. Giant Boba recipes ramp up this feel too, using grass jelly powder to deliver giant bobas bursting (literally!) with flavour.

Drink Trends 2024 - Grape Green Tea with Honey Pearls

Sweet or fruit flavours tend to be most common in these drinks overall since so many complement natural tea flavours – like Milksha’s grape green tea with honey pearls. While savoury flavours are being explored too, they’re usually balanced by sweet additions – like Debutea’s jasmine green tea with mango, avocado and coconut milk.

Hot shakes

Hot milkshakes are this year’s newest drinks trend. Like functional beers or non-alcoholic spirits, hot milkshakes might sound like a topsy-turvy concept, but shoppers are already calling them game-changers. Costa Coffee has added three to its new menu – White Chocolate and Strawberry, Salted Caramel Coffee, and Chocolate Hazel.

Dry January

Dry and Damp January were bigger than ever before this year. Money- and health-conscious consumers are increasingly embracing and experimenting with the low or no-alcohol drinks trend.

NoLo Beer

Beer remains the most widely available NoLo option, with 0% alternatives suiting lighter styles of pilsners and lagers, and flavoured beers or session ales suiting low ABV creations.

Spirits are perhaps the most important focus for drinks brands, though. Building on the popularity of botanical alcohol-free spirits, increasing numbers of alcohol-free agave spirits are being developed. These translate well into ready-to-drink versions too, as RTDs of all types seem to be an unstoppable force. Pentire has switched its non-alcoholic spirit Coastal Spritz into a canned version, while J2o has expanded from its juices into mocktails. The latter uses familiar, fruit-led flavours while twists on classic recipes or newer interesting ingredients also work well, like M&S’s spiced berry and hibiscus canned mocktail.

Interesting or unusual flavours are being seen in non-alcoholic aperitifs, liqueurs and even bitters too – like Ghia’s Berry aperitif, made using real strawberry and blackcurrant alongside green tea, basil and orange blossom. Alcohol-free bitters are being positioned for use in traditional cocktails, to lower ABVs and change the feel or focus of a drink, as much as mocktails.

Changing the functionality of drinks is also being explored by NoLo producers, by adding in functional ingredients. In the US, White Claw’s 0% seltzers offer extra hydration through electrolytes, while Belgian brand Thrive has added Vitamins B and D to its low calorie, alcohol-free beer.

Sober socialising

Recent research confirms how Gen Z are spearheading a ‘sober socialising’ drinks trend. Mintel has found that under-25s are almost half as likely as over-75s to prioritise spending on alcoholic drinks for at-home. It isn’t that the younger generation don’t drink at all, but typically only do so for a treat or special occasion, with the cost deterring most from more regular drinking.

Top cocktails

Top Cocktails

For those still drinking alcohol, 2023’s Top 100 most viewed cocktails have been revealed by Difford’s Guide. Passionfruit Martini takes the top spot, closely followed by new creations like Gin Basil Smash and classics including Amaretto Sour and Espresso Martini. Now the Gimlet, a simple mix of gin, lime juice and sugar, is tipped to be the 2024 favourite.

Everything’s peachy

The favourite flavour for 2024 has already been announced – peach. Peach tastes will be the accompanying flavour for 2024. Expect to see peach pop up in foods and drinks – from jams and ice creams to canned cocktails and teas.

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To keep up with the latest drinks industry trends and stay one step ahead of the competition, chat to our team today.

Image source: Trendhub The Food People 2024

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