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Drinks Trends 2024

January 17, 2024

Simpsons Beverages - Drink Trends 2024

The drinks flavours, styles and occasions tipped to trend through 2024

Our Drinks Trends 2024 report shares the year’s forecasted trends, along with ideas on how to capitalise on them.

Developing ‘best of the best’ offerings will appeal to consumers keen to enjoy little luxuries in the face of the cost-of-living crisis. Creating more ready-to-drink options will suit the shoppers overcoming grocery price rises through quick-serve restaurants or convenient ready-to-go offerings. And adding signature twists to classic recipes will help to maintain the popularity of retro and nostalgic drinks.

Worth the splurge

As consumer spending continues to be squeezed, savvy shoppers will be keen to find affordable little luxuries through 2024.

This likely means adopting a ‘less but better’ or ‘quality over quantity’ approach, particularly with alcoholic drinks; such as sampling just one high-end craft ale on a night out, rather than sinking multiple sessionable pints, or saving up for an expensive bottle of bubbly or wine to savour. This approach also suits more mindful drinking.

This 2024 drinks trend opens up the opportunity for brands to develop ‘best of the best’ offerings within their categories, giving drinkers indulgent versions of their favourites.

Simpsons Beverages - Indulgent Milkshakes - Drink Trends 2024

The ‘less but better’ approach extends to everyday non-alcoholic drinks too, such as enjoying an indulgent milkshake or limited-edition coffee on-the-go. There’s been a boom in sales of high-end sweet treats as people prioritise dessert over blow-out main meals in a bid to save money. Affordable and attractive drinks to complement big, sweet flavours are essential. Size matters here too, as supersized creations suit consumers keen to get good value from a purchase while sticking to familiar flavours or brands.

This offers the opportunity for brands to experiment and innovate with serving styles and sizes, creating drinks perfect for posting on socials too; helping to further fuel wider drinks trends.

Easy does it

The rise of Quick Serve Restaurants (QSRs), vending machines and ‘fast casual’ dining has influenced a key 2024 drinks trend, around the ease and importance of time- and cost-savings. On-trade offers like bottomless brunches or off-trade everyday essentials like meal deals suit this. As grocery prices rise, many consumers see QSRs as a viable alternative to at-home occasions for tasty cost-savings. Greggs is even set to open its first drive-through restaurants across the UK this year, following the surge in use of coffee chains and QSRs. Breakfast is a huge growth area here, encouraging drinks brands to offer affordable, convenient offerings as well as healthy options too.

Simpsons Beverages - Glou Glou Growth

As a step up from this, ‘fast casual’ restaurants offer cheap and cheerful flavour-led options. Flavour-led and affordability have influenced the resurgence of glou glou, a low ABV wine with typically fruity and juicy flavours and an accessible price point; taking a cheeky swipe at wine snobbery of old.

For on-trade operators, the opportunity could be to offer slimmed down, fixed price menus while off-trade could develop simpler, vending machine salespoints or ready-to-drink options suiting the need for speed without compromising on flavour or fulfilment. Vending machines are forecast to grow through 2024, with the types of goods sold and the opportunities around them – such as reverse vending to encourage the recycling of receptacles – becoming more diverse and innovative. Foods and drinks in cans, pouches, tubes and sachets suit on-the-go lifestyles too, from ready-to-drink canned cocktails or iced coffees, to mini bottles of concentrates to add flavour or extra vitamins and minerals to water.

Experiential drinks

Experiential dining is trending so it follows that mixologists and producers should be upping the stakes with experiential drinking this year too.

Simpsons Beverages - Dirty Martini

Experimenting with umami flavours has evolved from being just a dining trend, with savoury cocktails offering unique taste and unusual mouthfeel to drinks. The savoury Dirty Martini is expected to be an enduring drinks trend of 2024, with many mixologists upping the ante on the traditional recipe. Tart and sour ingredients in drinks can follow this trend too, offering a sensory experience. Combine tart tastes with familiar fruits, like sour cherry or vinaigrette-tossed watermelon or peach, to build on the opportunity for new but recognisable offerings here.

Create brightly coloured drinks to make this trend workable for off-trade offerings too. Colourful creations can feel joyful and playful and are particularly popular if hues are achieved using all-natural ingredients. Botanicals like turmeric, hibiscus, blueberries or pomegranate lend both colour and flavour here. Granita, the semi-frozen dessert, is also tipped to help the experiential drinking trend, offering mouthfeel and visual appeal alongside an array of colours.

The continued popularity of personalisation suits the experiential drinks trends too. Some bars have developed menus allowing drinkers to ‘compose their own cocktails’, offering a tailored experience.

More and more big brands are harnessing AI to gain insights into consumer wants and needs. Coca Cola has developed Y3000 in the US, a Coke flavour co-created between humans and AI, which analysed vast quantities of consumer and market data to suggest new ingredient formulations or combinations.

Comfort, Retro & Nostalgia

Simpsons Beverages - Kir Royale Cocktail

Consumers will continue to lean into comfort and nostalgia through 2024. So classic, familiar drinks are forecast to be a focus for drinkers this year – particularly cocktails like the Kir Royale or Martini, which straddle both the splurge and experiential drinks trends.

Throwback cocktails will continue to be a leading drinks trend this year – like time-honoured tipples from the roaring 20s, like the sophisticated French 75, or the bodacious 80s, like vibrant tiki cocktails including the Pina Colada or Strawberry Daiquiri. To maintain these as 2024 drinks trends, brands can add signature twists, through modernised recipes using trendy replacement ingredients or new positionings and packaging.

Of course, lots of new trends come from old ideas, particularly where the retro trend is concerned. Throwback foods and drinks still hold so much appeal, from the retro Radler, kitsch rose wine and sweet sherry cocktails, to bold blue slushies and cherry flavoured soft drinks.

Health, Wellness & Going green

Moderation and mindful drinking are drinks trends anticipated to last beyond just January 2024 as people prioritise health and wellness.

Damp January appears to be as popular as a tee-total Dry January though, as more a sustainable approach that suits those curbing their spending as well as their calories. Lower ABV drinks suit this while also sidestepping alcohol price increases.

Simpsons Beverages - Sentia Spirits

Functional drinks will be a 2024 drinks trend too, as consumers are now familiar with additions of proteins, fibres, minerals and vitamins in drinks as well as nootropics and adaptogens. Ingredients promising improved gut health, reduced stress levels or rejuvenated skin are most popular.

This mindful approach extends to considerate consumption too, with consumers keen to use products with sustainable packaging. Canned drinks are a popular choice over glass receptacles, thanks to their lightness and durability giving a reduced carbon footprint.

Simpsons are experts in drink development and manufacturing. To stay on top of, or ahead of, 2024 drinks trends chat to our team today about your projects and plans.

Image source: Trendhub, The Food People 2024

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