2023 drinks trend predictions
Discover our biggest trend predictions for 2023, from savoury cocktails to functional drinks
Check out more of our predictions for the year ahead, including coffee trends, wellness travel trends, food trends, health trends and restaurant trends. Now find out olive columnist Gurd Loyal's food and drink trend predictions for 2024.
The next frontier in alcohol-free drinking, functional drinks are non-alcoholic products such as spirits, beers and teas that come loaded with botanical ingredients designed to gently boost your mood and/or provide other health benefits. One product we were impressed with recently, Sentia Red, is described as an alternative to alcohol that promises a buzz akin to having a couple of drinks. While not mimicking the exact effects of booze – you certainly won’t feel tipsy – we did feel relaxed and generally mellow after drinking it. And, just as importantly, it’s good to drink, with a bold, bittersweet floral and spiced berry character. Mix with tonic water, use in a spritz or pair with a bitter non-alcoholic aperitif for a negroni-style cocktail
Available here: Sentia Red, £28.95/50cl, The Whisky Exchange
When it comes to sustainability, glass bottles and their environmental impact are one of the drinks industry’s biggest headaches. Thankfully, spirits producers are starting to wise up, with several distilleries launching paper bottles for their liquids. Examples include Greenall’s Original London Dry Gin (£17.25, The Whisky Exchange), Green Man Wildwood Vodka (£30, Amazon), Gyre & Gimble Coastal Gin (£26.99, Naked Wines) and Avallen Calvados (£42, Harvey Nichols). Typically made of recycled paper, they have a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to their glass equivalents.
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Who doesn’t love a cocktail with a mini umbrella? Kitsch, feel-good cocktails such as tequila sunrise were some of the most searched-for cocktails according to a trend report by Waitrose. In these uncertain times, cocktails that showcase fun, sunny and familiar flavours offer a welcome boost. We like Moth’s silky, light and tropical canned piña colada (£3.99/20cl, Waitrose), or Umbrella Project’s fruity banana daiquiri (£15/30cl, The Umbrella Project).
Find recipes for other classic retro cocktails here, from white russian to blue lagoon.
The mark of a good traditional vodka is a neutral, pure profile, a blank canvas for other flavours in cocktails. Recently, however, a wave of distillers have released vodkas with a little more to say for themselves. These new spirits champion their raw ingredients, with subtle differences in how they taste. Potato vodkas, for example, will have a creamier texture, while a rye-based spirit can have nutty notes. Vodkas are now also made with more out-there ingredients, from cow’s whey to discarded grape skins. These vodkas can still be used in cocktails but are also characterful enough to be drunk on their own.
Some producers have introduced delicate flavourings into their vodkas. Comte de Grasse extracts colour and flavour from Provençal rosé wine for their 06 Vodka Rosé (£49/70cl, Harvey Nichols) for an elegant vodka with light strawberry and white blossom notes. On the other end of the spectrum, Aval Dor Rosemary & Bay Vodka (£35.94/70cl, Master of Malt) uses rosemary and bay for a rounded, savoury spirit.
Discover more of the best vodkas to try.
Savoury and spicy drinks
Our palates seem to be craving salty and spicy, with more and more bars showcasing savoury, poky drinks. Martinis are perfect for this – we’ve seen briny, savoury versions at bars including Silverleaf in Bishopsgate and Soma in Soho (think next-level dirty martinis).
On the hotter side, the full-bodied, herbaceous character of agave spirits like tequila and mezcal can take a little heat: think spicy margaritas using punchy ingredients such as hot sauce, chill sauce and jalapeño. Doña in Stoke Newington does a cracking spicy marg.
The RTD (read to drink) revolution continues with premium canned cocktails becoming more widespread than ever. In 2023, we predict non-alcoholic RTDs will become more popular.
Made in the Scottish Lowlands using 14 different ingredients, including locally sourced serrated wrack seaweed, bay leaf and chamomile, Feragaia is clean, subtle and elegant, with warming spice and herbal notes. The brand has now released canned versions, mixed with either ginger ale or tonic water (£30/12 x 25cl cans, Feragaia).
Try our pick of canned cocktails here.
Every type of martini
Martinis have never really gone out of style, but they’re becoming more popular than ever as bars across London offer dedicated martini menus showcasing different twists on the drink, from Hawksmoor’s The Lowback in Canary Wharf (all frozen at -15C, their Pink Gibson is a must-order) to Salvatore Calabrese’s Velvet at the Corinthia hotel – try the nutty Sesamini, using Nikka Coffey gin washed in sesame oil.
Looking for a classic? The Connaught Bar’s martini – mixed at your table, with your choice of aromatic bitters – is well worth trying. If you want to make something wacky at home, try a dirty tequila martini: stir together 50ml of reposado tequila with 20ml of dry vermouth, a dash of olive brine and some orange bitters in a mixing glass, then strain into a frozen martini or coupe glass. Delicious.
Want to make martinis at home? Try our best martini cocktail twists here.
Tequila and rum renaissance
Sales are booming for high-end rums and tequilas. Master of Malt reported that sales of flavoured and spiced rum increased by more than 150% from April 2021-2022, with tequila enjoying a whopping +578% growth over two years. Discover our pick of the best premium rums and tequilas here.
Bored of your usual gin? Intrepid drinkers should look towards spirits and liqueurs given modern spins, from French apple brandy calvados (try Avallen or Sassy (£32, Majestic)) to Norwegian Nuet’s aquavit (£39.75, The Whisky Exchange) – citrussy with earthy caraway notes. Our latest favourite is Axia, an extra-dry reimagining of Greek mastiha liqueurs. Made from the resin of the mastiha tree on the island of Chios, it’s strikingly herbaceous, with saline, citrus and vegetal notes, and makes a cracking dirty martini (£31.44/70cl, Master of Malt).