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The Best Tradeshows For Drinks Brands

November 15, 2021 by Simon Byrne

Tradeshows for drinks brands allow you the most important thing you can do for sales and brand visibility: to get in front of your target audience

Many people assume that the target audience is just the general public – but as a drinks brand, you also want to get in front of suppliers/distributors, event promoters, bar and restaurant operators and just about anyone else involved within the drinks industry. 

If people don’t know about your brand and connections/relationships aren’t formed, you’ll be missing out on a key component for a marketing plan. Therefore, one of the best ways to get in front of these people is through tradeshows or expos (exhibitions). 

Tradeshows are a chance for both industry professionals and also the general public to come together and network. In this day and age though, there are expos for almost every niche. If you want to get the most brand visibility and awareness, one of the most efficient ways is to attend the biggest tradeshows! 

The Best Tradeshows For Drinks Brands

As we’ve just mentioned, you want to be getting to the best tradeshows in the country to promote your brand and network with potential suppliers, customers, and even colleagues. Relationships can help to establish a brand and in this article, we’ll cover the best tradeshows for drinks brands. 

The list below will cover some of the most well-known tradeshows in the UK (for drinks brands) and will give a short overview of what makes each of these so great. 

As an event professional, the last tradeshow I attended involved a lesson on how to make Kombucha, a seminar on how to grow a spirit brand, a funding round for an ale startup, and of course… plenty of samples! These tradeshows stay in people’s memory so having a presence at one of them can only benefit your brand. 

International Drink Expo

International Drink Expo Logo

International drinks expo is one (if not the) largest expos in the UK for drink brands with 1000 exhibitors, 15000 attendees and 500 seminars. 

Taking place over two days at the ExCel in London, IDE has a whole host of things going on for attendees and brands. 

From a brands perspective, you can expect the following: 

  • Awards
  • Keynote speeches
  • Exhibition space
  • Panel debates
  • Nightclub zone (for drinks brands to showcase and discuss industry trends, products and technologies)
  • Networking area

The key purpose or selling point of this event is:

“connecting hospitality professionals with the innovations to boost their ROI, maximise their revenue and double their drinks sales.”

When looking at the “what’s going on” section combined with the event tagline, you can easily see how the focus is on helping brands to develop and make an impact within the industry. This event attracts industry specialists, operators, and networking potential that’s arguably unmatched by other tradeshows. 

Depending on the size of your brand, there are also opportunities for sponsorship and partnerships for the event but even just showing up at the IDE is going to provide your brand with opportunities that you’d struggle to find elsewhere.

Find Out More About International Drink Expo

Food and Drink Expo

Guests at Food and Drink expo, one of the best tradeshows for drinks brands

The Food and Drink Expo (hosted at the NEC Birmingham) is one of the most established drink expos in the UK. Operating for over 25 years, the primary purpose of the food and drink expo is for brands to get in front of buyers. This expo is aimed at:

  • Grocery
  • Wholesale
  • Retail
  • Manufacturing
  • Speciality Retail

The key reason for attending this expo is to connect with potential buyers. While brand awareness is always a key aspect for promoting sales, something that’s even more important is having a direct sales channel and connecting with buyers and retailers is crucial for brand growth.

With tens of thousands of buyers in attendance over the three days – many of which are Management/Managing Directors/CEOs or Owners – you can be sure that there are some targeted (and profitable) connections to be made.

What to Expect

The food and drink expo is designed for exhibitors to showcase their offering, or to connect with other brands and businesses that they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to do. 

This means that the exhibition stands are the stand out aspect so not only is getting a stand here going to be beneficial for your drinks brand, you can also visit a huge variety of other stands to make introductions with relevant exhibitors. 

Alongside this, there are also debates, panels, and some connector events to offer further opportunities to network and connect with potential clients or customers.

Find Out More About Food and Drink Expo


Imbibe Live

A brand ambassador engaging with customers at Imbibe 2018

While the Food and Drink Expo listed above is a great showcase for food & drink, Imbibe Live goes a step further and targets a drinks only market. From Mezcal to Lo-No categories, Imbibe Live brings everyone from the drinks industry together under one roof for a weekend showcasing the best in the industry. 

Held at Olympia, London, Imbibe Live offers drinks brands an opportunity to gain exposure and grow, regardless of what type of drink they (you) manufacture! 

While the traditional categories are present (wine, beer, spirits), Imbibe Live offers all drink brands an opportunity to gain exposure with water, hard seltzer, coffee and RTD’s being just a few of the categories that can thrive at this event. 

Not only is this an event that’s beneficial for the brand to attend as an exhibitor but also one that owners or managers of a brand should attend to further their knowledge and connections within the industry. 

Imbibe Live hosts seminars, tastings, educational workshops, and of course – networking events allowing all of the drinks industry to come together and find ways to improve brand presence, quality of product, and overall profitability. 

What’s good about Imbibe Live is the interactivity. Exhibitors can follow a simple step by step process (found here – to book their stand, choose the size/location, and offer promotion channels to support your brand. 

It’s one of the easiest and most user-friendly events to get involved in and the use of apps and a live stream option means this is easily the most modern, interactive, and forward-thinking tradeshow currently growing in the UK.

Find Out More About Imbibe Live

Case Study: The Cocktail Service at Imbibe 2018

London Cocktail Week

Guests at Imbibe Live drinks tradeshow

Ok, being that we are The Cocktail Service, it would be crazy for us to not include London Cocktail Week on this list! 

By far one of the most anticipated and participated in events of the social calendar, London Cocktail Week brings brands, bartenders, and the general public together for a love of one thing – cocktails. 

There’s always a buzz in the industry around LCW as thousands of participants engage in a range of cocktail-inspired activities. With headline sponsors including Diageo, Bacardi, Pernod Ricard, Moet Hennesy, Brown-Forman, and Remy Cointreau, you can get a feel for the calibre of this event!

What to Expect

The thing with London Cocktail Week is that you never know quite what to expect! The cocktail industry is full of innovative and eccentric individuals and each year a new concept is thought up to make this event better than the previous year. 


The main highlight for most people is the bars. In 2021, 275 bars were featured in a £7 signature cocktail series. Wristband wearers were entitled to purchase these signature cocktails and see what some of the best bars (and bartenders) in the industry have to offer. 


Pop-ups, masterclasses, and other cocktail based events (including virtual) make this festival something that not only brands can enjoy but also the customers. 

Visitors are already hyped up about the experience and if you can get your brand in front of this audience with an innovative and engaging pop-up or collaboration, you can be sure it will make a lasting impression on thousands of engaged and potential customers. 


As well as being a customer-focused experience and festival, there is also an opportunity for those involved in the trade to network and interact. Trade specific events mean that cocktail based brands (or complementary brands and buyers) can all interact around a shared passion – cocktails.

Find Out More About London Cocktail Week

Honourable Mentions

The above tradeshows are what we’d consider being the most popular and “go-to” options for both established brands and those new to the market. If, however, you’re looking for something slightly different then we also have some honourable mentions that you might be interested in below:

Whisky Show

There are specialist drink tradeshows all over the world – everyone either knows of or has been to a beer festival before – and one of the best in recent years is the Whisky Show based in London. As the name suggests, this is a tradeshow specifically catered to whisky brands and whisky lovers in general. 

Tasting sessions, masterclasses, guest speakers, and a wealth of knowledge and expertise surround the Whisky Show so if you have a brand that is either whisky based, or complements whisky somehow… then this is the show to be at!

Specialty & Fine Food Fair

Do you have a premium product targeting an affluent market? If so, the Specialty & Fine Food Fair could be a great option for your drinks brand. 

This fair promotes all things artisan, fine food, and premium drinks which attracts some of the leading restaurants, brands, and industry experts both in the country and worldwide. 

Most exhibitors have used this fair as a springboard to grow their brand and get a solid footing in what’s otherwise an incredibly competitive industry with sky-high quality standards. 

While this fair has many features that you’d expect to see within any given expo, something that they do very well is connecting people and building a community for year-round interactions.

The Speciality & Find Food Fair community group gives people access to special newsletters, podcasts, and groups using an algorithm to match interests and insights with each specific category. 

If you’re looking to connect with others in a premium industry, the Specialty & Fine Food Fair is a great place to start!

Leisure Food and Beverage Expo

Another event held at NEC Birmingham, this is a more targeted, niche kind of expo for food and drink brands within the leisure industry. It’s specifically for those brands that are currently – or planning to – operate in the leisure industry. 

As leisure is such a growing industry, especially with the expected boom following lockdown, gaining a presence within this industry could be a savvy and highly profitable move for a particular type of brand. At this event, you’ll find connections that you might not otherwise have the opportunity to network with including brands/presences from the following sectors:

  • Theme Parks
  • Amusement Parks
  • Casinos
  • Arcades
  • Gym
  • Sport Facilities
  • Holiday Sites
  • Golf Courses

These are sectors you might have never thought to connect with before so could be ideal for a brand looking to expand on their current market.

The Cocktail Service: Drink Brand & Event Agency for Tradeshows

A brand ambassador from The Cocktail Service at the Crown Royal Stand at Imbibe live 2018

We are the UK’s leading drink brand specialist and event agency. We create and run bars at leading tradeshows such as Imbibe Live, as well as for private showcase events.

Our creative approach, one-of-a-kind cocktail programme, professionalism, and reliability to deliver seamlessly have made us go to company for leading luxury events planners, PR companies, corporates and discerning private clients

You can find out more about our recent projects here.

Looking for someone to lead your next tradeshow activation? Contact us to see how we can help you.

For tips on creating a drinks brand from the pros, check out our article with humble warrior.


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