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What Are The Newest Lockdown Drinking Trends?

February 19, 2021 by Jonathan Paxley

There is no sugar-coating the past year but what we do know is that it is reshaping our industry and the way that we drink.

Due to the lockdown restrictions, both suppliers and drinkers have had to adapt, provoking different behavioural responses, causing new habits to develop and generating a great deal of speculation about what people are doing to cope.

We know that crises tend to accelerate trends but the question on our lips is are we drinking more or less? We know we’ve been drinking more!

With ‘real-life’ events dropping off, we’ve seen a massive increase in Virtual Cocktail Masterclasses, premiumisation and bottled cocktails.

We’ve taken to the worldwide web and caught up with some entrepreneurs in our industry to find out more.

Drinking at Home 

For some, the lockdown changes have been forced upon us, driving us to enjoy a few more drinks at home. Confined to our home with little else to do, it is tempting to turn to the bottle for entertainment, is this the new normal? Although it is new to a lot of people, the industry has seen some significant changes already. Predictably, there has been a huge spike in off-trade alcohol sales due to the closure of the on-trade market, and this has forced both the industry and its consumers to innovate, and influence market developments.


Home Bars & Garden Drinking Dens

Due to lockdown lasting longer than expected, homeowners have been making the most of their time, in an effort to make this ‘new normal’ that little bit easier.  The DIY home bar trend has gone through the roof (and into the back garden) as we are made to stay in. Whether it’s a sleek cocktail bar, a Tiki style hut, a secret shed hideaway or man cave, creativity has flourished for those who are missing the bar. This is a trend we should all get involved with.

Virtual Cocktail Masterclasses

Hoping to escape the boredom of lockdown life, many of us are taking to online events to connect with friends, clients, colleagues and fellow experience lovers worldwide. Virtual masterclasses have been a huge success encouraging cocktail making at home, facilitating the new stay-at-home-economy whilst enabling social connections. Inspired by the lockdown era, businesses are also taking to online virtual events as a way for teams to connect and boost morale.

Our team at The Cocktail Service offer a virtual cocktail masterclasses that are led by some of the best bartenders in the industry. We are totally non-biased. I’m serious, we are regularly awarded 5-star reviews by our happy clients.


Wellness & Mindful Drinking 

We love wellness, and cocktails. Unlikely combo? Well…

Wellness drinks were one of the biggest 2020 beverage trends, accelerated by the implementation of lockdown. With the ongoing restrictions and little to do but exercise, less people are going out to drink than ever, making it easier for them to take advantage of this time and focus on their physical health. We have seen people choosing to drink less, invest in plant powered wellness, no and low alcoholic (nolo) drinks or stopping altogether. Many of us have become sober-curious or mindful of our drinking habits, encouraging each other to go teetotal and glamorising sobriety.

As the clean drinking trend shows no sign of slowing down, is the sober revolution really here? The NoLo category has been around for a while and includes beer, cider, wine, spirits, RTD’s and seltzers. We predict they will only continue to grow post lockdown.

If you are not a drinker or are becoming more health conscious and this is something you feel you need to get on board with, or just want to find out the ABV of an over ripe banana, checkout our article on the best no and low alcohol brands.



We have seen the premiumisation trend accelerate whilst going through the tiers as consumer behaviour undeniably changes and choosing to drink better becomes an option. The lockdown has brought back the experience of drinking at home, developing an appetite for these premium choices. Prior to the pandemic the experience of drinking for many was going to the bar with your friends, whereas now it is perhaps more focused on the drink itself as we don’t have the other aspects.

The increased focus on personal health and wellness has also encouraged health-conscious drinkers to trade up and pay more for these higher quality drinks. Data from the IWSR and Wine intelligence has confirmed that consumers are drinking “less but better”.


Direct To Consumer

Both on and off trade markets have taken to direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels after the pandemic has prompted hospitality to shut. D2C sales soared 6000% in the first weeks of lockdown with brewers and suppliers adapting to find innovative ways to keep afloat. The industry has turned to deliver their products via e-commerce and digital sales platforms which are playing a vital role, whereby Brits have bought an extra half a billion litres of alcohol. Quarantine has seen pubs take to instant drink delivery services and hospitality businesses creating new products to claw back some revenue in any way which they can. Check out these examples.

Whilst the pubs remain closed, Asahi launched a D2C delivery service ‘Beer Pronto’ to provide the products we all know and love. With a super-premium point of different and offering next working day delivery, drinkers can expect convenience as well as quality.

Are you missing the pub? @pubtoyourdoor is a delivery service that brings back the pure enjoyment when ordering a drink at the bar. Delivering pints around London you can book a slot to resurrect the experience of the pub and make staying at home more bearable.


RTDs, Bottled Cocktails & Cocktail Subscriptions

The global pandemic has increased retail sales of RTDs (ready-to-drink) and pre bottled cocktails as people try and recreate the (very missed) bar drinking experience at home. From canned hard seltzer to bottled espresso martinis, the creation and selection of cocktails ready to drink at home has increased and improved tenfold; a product of the premiumisation trend. Innovation has targeted the off-trade market with RTD products, selling directly to the market and onto supermarket shelves as the on-trade market is currently shut. There are some great non-alcoholic versions too.

Cocktail subscription boxes as well as wine subscriptions such as Savage Vines, have also appeared to be in a phase of rapid growth and have become a phenomenon of late. The gift that keeps on giving. Something cool is coming from The Cocktail Club. Launching in late March is a cocktail subscription box like no other. Sign up to be the first to find out.

We have put together a guide of the best bottled and canned cocktails currently on the market.

The Cocktail Club

Having delivered premium event cocktail bar services, brand activations and exceptional hospitality experiences for over a decade now, premiumisation is something we know a thing or two about. Seeing the pandemic as an opportunity to support our staff and continue to bring drinks to the people. We set out to create affordable, bar quality drinking experiences for our customers ready to drink and delivered directly to your door.

Our products are a labour of love and batched to an exact recipe at our HQ in Oxford. Our drinks have no nasties in them, only contain premium ingredients and of course have the environment in mind; we don’t use any plastic in our packaging. None at all. We like to think that we are a little different and have produced an all-round awesome product, promoting better and mindful drinking choices, not through abstinence but through choosing to drink better.


The Rise of the Hard Seltzers in the UK

After the US saw hard seltzers dominate the market in 2019, the UK has taken confidence in the products and emulated this trend. But why? They’re healthy, well not exactly healthy but they are a better option than other types of alcohol. Encapsulating the health and wellness trend, the average can contains between 70 and 100 calories and most are gluten-free and, vegan friendly, as well as having low sugar credentials. Hard seltzers also contain less alcohol than the average alcoholic drink, with an average ABV of 5%. Head here for more reasons why.

We spoke to Berczy Drinks who gave us an insight into launching a hard seltzer in the midst of a pandemic. They explained that their customers are experiencing ‘gin fatigue’ and beer and wine drinkers are opting for a lighter, less calorific drink which has been exacerbated by swinging in and out of lockdown.


What Is the Drink of the Lockdown?

Drum roll please… Since it has enjoyed the biggest growth across all spirit categories during lockdown, figures from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) have crowned Rum as ‘the drink of the lockdown’. What’s more, the popularity of flavoured and spiced rum recently outsold white rums for the first time, spiking 53% by volume in the first lockdown.

Prior to the pandemic restrictions, consumers enjoyed rum predominantly in pubs and bars so this has carried over to their home. The premiumisation trend, as mentioned,  has definitely contributed to this lockdown champion too. We chatted to Hawksbill Rum who has added to this category and produced a spiced rum with a cause.


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