Source: Friend & Johnson

Whether you’re a man-bunned mixologist in-the-know, a marketer of luxury spirits or a cocktail-loving consumer, 2017 is a year to cheers to with interesting trends on the horizon. Especially when Euromonitor is estimating that there will be many, many new consumers — 400 million new consumers by 2020 globally for luxury spirits.

Let’s take a look at a few cocktail trends and how smart brands are mixing them into their marketing.


More and more, consumers want to hear the story behind their cocktails. These stories are traded as social currency among millennials, passionately showing their knowledge of a single-malt (ahem, my fiancé’s recent obsession) or linking a spirit or drink’s history back to their own community.

Cooper Spirits created a cool video to promote Slow & Low’s Hochstadter’s Rock and Rye which dates back to the mid-1800s. It’s artfully shot, gritty and has just the right amount of anecdotes, like the fact that the drink was originally sold in pharmacies to cure colds. What they tapped into was this trend of rich storytelling that consumers were eager to hear, resulting in a strong lift in sales.


Yes, my first big move of 2017 was to replenish our home bar with single malts, bourbon and rye … but that’s because guests have come to expect a batch of Manhattans at our apartment every time. Mixing up cocktails is such a thing that my fiancé has become a mini mixologist to meet the demand.

Per Google, there’s an increase in volume of searches to back that up.  And what’s more interesting is consumer search behavior. They aren’t Googling specific brands (or visiting brand sites for their custom recipes) – no, instead they search generic terms like “bourbon cocktails” or “vodka cocktails” which gives  brands (with the right SEO in place) the opportunity to snag some of these consumers, especially during a crowded time like the holidays.

Source: Feasting at Home blog for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

This past holiday, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (full disclosure that they are a PadillaCRT client) launched a “Sipping Through the Season” campaign targeted at millennial women who may be mixing up a batch of cocktails at home or toting a batch to a gathering. The Council leveraged the rise in search for cocktail recipes during the holidays and tapped into what their millennial target would be most interested in – it’s way more convenient (and fun!) to mix up a Blueberry Gin and Sage Punch at a party than bake the night before. With over 350,000 video views and almost 200,000 social media engagements by the millennial consumer, it’s clear this content was consumed as quickly as craft cocktails at a holiday party.

Being Honest

We all have different, evolving tastes when it comes to cocktails. In the past, I was a vodka-gal and now you’ll be hard pressed to find me sipping a vodka soda.  I drank them because it’s what everyone was drinking, until I found what I liked – bourbon.

These days, brands are playing into those unique and somewhat unconventional tastes by encouraging consumers to share their beverages of choice proudly. Take Stoli and their recent “Drink What You Want” campaign this past year. AdWeek reported that they did some research and found that 73% of millennial men enjoyed flavored cocktails, but 63% will avoid ordering them in public out of fear that their friends will make fun of them.

Now that’s an ad campaign waiting to happen and it did. Stoli produced hilarious, quality online spots highlighting three different cocktails made with different flavors, partnering with renowned bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler to bring this to life.

So what can you learn as a marketer? Well, first is to always do your homework and by that I mean research. Understand the landscape and your brand’s opportunity and if there’s a trend you can tap into, go for it.

So there you have it folks. Now we’re interested to hear if you’ve seen cool spirit campaigns tapping into these trends or others. Share below in the comments.