What’s Hot? Five Trends for the New Year

By: Joanne Sasvari

This is what—and how—we’ll be drinking as we head into 2024.

Winter isn’t just about warming whisky drinks and a bottom-line boost from holiday parties. It’s also the season when trend-spotters predict what’s ahead for the coming year. Here are five trends you can expect to see in 2024.

  1. We’re (Still) Drinking Less Alcohol

Some trends are already in play, notably the relentless rise in low- and no-alcohol beverages. The research firm Nielsen reports that sales of non-alcoholic beverages increased 33% in 2021 alone, while online searches for “non-alcoholic drink” are up 60% over the last five years. Meanwhile, a recent Gallup poll showed that the percentage of adults who consume alcohol dropped from 65% in 2016 to 60% in 2021—with the biggest decrease among millennials (born 1981 to 1996) and Gen Z (born 1996 to 2010). In fact, Gen Z drinks more than 20% less than any other generation did at their age.

Everyone expects this trend to keep growing, so expect to pay more attention to Dry January and Sober October, to non-alcoholic beer, spirits, wine, and especially cocktails. Look for sophisticated non-alcoholic RTDs, which are edging out costly (and not-always-delicious) zero-proof spirits with exciting new flavours, not to mention convenience and portability.

On the flip side, when people do drink they expect to get major bang for their boozy buck, especially given the rising cost of everything. As a result, there is a growing trend of consumers seeking out alcohol-forward cocktails like the Martini, Negroni, and Old Fashioned, as well as contemporary riffs on these high-proof classics.

  1. We’re Drinking to Our Health

The low alcohol trend is part of an even bigger wellness trend. Increasingly, we expect food and drink to reduce stress, help us sleep, aid in digestion, and boost our immune systems. Consumers are looking for adaptogens and other ingredients with health-boosting properties, like ginseng, ginger, CBD, probiotics, and energizing magnesium.

Think gut-health-boosting ginger shots or kombucha, either hard or soft, and especially mushrooms. Varieties like lion’s mane and reishi are popular for their rich umami flavour, toothsome texture, and reputed stress-busting attributes. Expect to see more of them as plant-based meat alternatives for a growing number of vegans as well as in beverages ranging from teas to cocktails.

  1. We’re Getting Smarter About Sustainable Packaging

Given this summer’s sizzling temperatures and devastating wildfires, sustainability is top of mind for many, and that’s especially true when it comes to packaging and the environmental impacts of creating, shipping, storing, and disposing.

In a study comparing the carbon footprint of different types of packaging, Gaia Consulting found that boxed wine creates only 70 grams of carbon dioxide per litre, a cardboard carton 85 grams, and a wine pouch 96 grams. Meanwhile, a traditional glass bottle is responsible for a whopping, 675 grams of CO2 per litre.

Expect to see more and more eco-friendly packaging options, such as pouches, cartons, beverages on tap, and lighter-weight glass bottles.

  1. We’re Loving Fizzy Drinks

It’s not just the neon-orange Aperol spritz that’s been so ubiquitous these past few summers. The refreshingly light, fizzy, low-calorie, low-ABV wine spritzer is making a comeback with a variety of delightful new flavours and brands, including RTD versions. Along with an ocean of spritzes and spritzers, expect to see more bubbly highball drinks ranging from the trendy-in-Japan whisky highball to lime-flavoured Ranch Water, which taps into two other hot trends: tequila and Topo Chico, a super-effervescent Mexican mineral water.

  1. We Want to Be Wowed with Flavour

Is this yuzu’s moment? Searches for the fragrant citrus fruit are up more than 200% over the past five years, along with a growing craving for other Asian flavours including ginger, lemongrass, makrut lime, and chilies, as well as spirits such as baijiu and shochu. Yuzu, which tastes like a cross between a mandarin orange and lemon with hints of grapefruit and lime, is delightful in a Margarita or any other sour cocktail.

A survey by Bacardi Global ranked flavoured bitters (especially Campari and Aperol), coconut water, coffee, and fermented mixers as the most popular ingredients among bartenders. The UK-based International Taste Solutions pegs orange as the most popular flavour, followed by raspberry, tropical fruit, and fast-growing prickly pear, passionfruit, and basil. And for a taste that is both kooky and nostalgic, hot bars like Double Chicken Please in New York City have been capturing the essence of popular foods like cold pizza or French toast in their cocktails.