A mixologist serves up the liquor trends for 2020

by Marson Strydom. Ahead of South African Cocktail Week next week, a mixologist measures out the trends in the liquor market currently.

by Marson Strydom. Yesterday, pink was a colour, today, it’s a flavour. Consumers are fatigued by an overload of different brand labels, shapes and colours. Customers tend to shop with their eyes – anything pretty gets picked up.

With SA Cocktail Week kicking off next week on 29 February, these are some of the shake-ups we can expect to see on shelves, in bars, at festivals and at home in 2020 and beyond:

Less is more

Over-the-top cocktails and sugary concoctions are fizzling out as mixologists turn back the clock and serve the classics. Gone are the days of frivolous garnishes and flavour enhancers that dilute a drink for what it is. Savouring a simple, classic drink allows us to appreciate its true taste and quality.

Healthy alternatives

The growth of a health and wellness culture has spilled over into the liquor market. As consumers become more aware of what they put into their bodies, there is a greater need for high-quality, low alcohol by volume (ABV) and alcohol-free products. We have already seen a rise in non-alcoholic products on shelves – even the launch of an alcohol-free drinking festival to celebrate sobriety – as well as low-calorie spritzers and mixes. You can expect this health trend to grow.


Alcoholic beverages are increasingly being packaged in ready-to-drink (RTD) varieties to satisfy consumers’ needs for convenience. One-litre bottles and two-litre mixes are making way for easy-to-handle innovations like gin-in-a-tin and pocket-sized spirits for consumption on the go. No longer do you have to carry around multiple mixes and ingredients to make a drink, because it’s all conveniently canned.

Conscious consumption

Consumers are basing buying decisions not only on quenching their thirst – albeit with a kick – but also on whether a brand aligns with their lifestyles. While ‘low calorie’ and ‘alcohol-free’ are important factors, sustainability is seemingly the number one draw card when choosing products.

Local brands are embracing sustainable processes, ingredients, packaging, and paying it forward with community and environmental projects.

Local is lekker

There’s a growing culture among local brands that embrace South African culture and local ingredients. The RGBC’s own brand, Wixworth Gin uses local ingredients, like our unique flora, the renosterbos; and there is no reason why our spirits shouldn’t be either.

Popularity of gin

Gin is still on the rise and will be for a while. We’ll see new gins come and go over the next two years, along with up and coming craft spirits like spiced and botanical rums, but we’ll also see gins form a solid foundation that will carry them for years to come. Innovation will subside and we’ll see a great number of gins being discontinued. Consumers will fall back into their comfort zone and purchase what they are most confident in.


Marson Strydom is a mixologist at The Really Great Brand Company (RGBC). He has 18 years of experience in the beverage industry, from bartending through to management and specialises in training bartenders, designing menus and setting up restaurants.


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