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Drinks trends: 70s nostalgia, no- and low- and veggie cocktails

Upmarket grocery retailer Waitrose has tipped 70s nostalgia, cocktails that give you more of your five-a-day and the rise and rise of no-and low among the up-and-coming drink trends for this year. 

Writing in the retailer’s drinks trend, trading director of drinks Pierpaolo Petrassi said that customers were being more inquisitive and adventurous than ever.

“Experimenting with new cocktail recipes or giving unfamiliar wine styles a spin, people are increasingly keen to expand their horizons when it comes to their drinks cabinet,” he said.

“You might find them having an alcohol-free beer on a Monday night, a glass of cava on a Wednesday and some Friday-night margaritas.”

Consumers also want more information – on anything from how their drink is made, what the environmental impact is, to how best to enjoy it with inspiration on serves and what to enjoy it with.

And while there is an surging interest in being more health conscious – demand for lighter seltzers, non-alcoholic options and even veggie cocktails is at an all-time high, Petrassi points out – treats are also in, with cream liqueurs and affordable fizz enjoying a boost.

70s revival and veggie power

One of the big trends is a revival of “feel-good, retro cocktails with a serious dose of kitsch” Waitrose noted, with Sangria becoming the most searched-for cocktail recipe last summer and ‘piña colada’ trending, with searching up 40%.

“After two years with little to celebrate, our customers are now welcoming the return to hosting with feel-good 70s classics like the Tequila Sunrise and Blue Lagoon to inject colour and theatre into entertaining,” Petrassi noted added.

But move over flower power, this summer is about veggie power, with carrots, beetroot, kale, and celery all making it onto the cocktail list.

“People are getting more adventurous than ever when it comes to cocktail ingredients. And this year we expect to see a lot more cocktail recipes featuring vegetables, herbs and savoury flavours,” the report said, pointing to drinks such as Green Goddess Martini or a Beetroot Bellini.

Tequila sunrise

However, it is tequila that is making some serious waves this summer, with sales at Waitrose booming 127% between 2019 and 2021 with spirits buyer John Vine Sales expecting the interest in agave spirits to continue.

“During lockdown, many people took the opportunity to broaden their cocktail repertoire, resulting in major growth for tequila,” he said. “People have realised that tequila can be really versatile – it’s no longer just about shots. The rise of celebrity products from the likes of Kendall Jenner and George Clooney has also helped to raise awareness of the category.”

For cocktails, Vine recommends un-aged blanco or lightly aged reposado tequila. “When it comes to sipping, some of the more mature añejo tequilas can be as good as a fine malt whisky.”

Recipe searches for margaritas such as the Basil Margarita and Smoky Margarita have grown by 400% on, it said, with a popular grapefruit-and-tequila cooler from Mexico, the Paloma, and the retro favourite Tequila Sunrise also enjoying popularity.

Lesser known grapes

It is also continuing to promote its Loved & Found range of lesser known grapes that it says “have the potential to be the popular varieties of the future”. There have been several additions to the range this spring, including an AOP Clairette du Languedoc, 2021, (RRP: £7.99), a Loved & Found Caladoc, Pays d’Oc IGP, 2021, (RRP: £6.99)  a round and fruity red that is a cross between Grenache and Malbec, as well as a light-bodied Frappato, IGP Terre Sicilia, 2021, (RRP: £7.99) that wine buyer Jamie Matthewson alikens to “an Italian Beaujolais”.

English still wines are also starting to ride the wave that its sparkling wine has started.

“Red and rosé English wines continue to be extremely popular at Waitrose – both reported a 70% increase in sales in 2021,” Matthewson notes.  “I’m very excited about what’s to come in this market, and look forward to seeing a bigger and more diverse range of top-quality wines from these producers and sub-regions hit our shelves in the coming years,” he said.


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