In 2020, the Indian bar community witnessed an unprecedented expansion of the industry. Five new Indian gins were announced, people adopted local and seasonal ingredients in cocktails, and the pandemic led to pre-batched and non-alcoholic drinks flourishing. 2021 promises to double on 2020’s momentum with new trends, brands, and ideas.
- The Rum Revolution
For decades, Old Monk and McDowell’s No. 1 have faced no competition in the rum market, but that’s about to change. With a new, homegrown brand – Makazai Rum – on the market and the arrival of Lover’s Rum in Goa, we are about to witness an Indian Rum Revolution, for the first time in decades.
Makazai Rum is led by a team of women that promise a White and Gold Rum, with premium packaging and design – perfect for use in bars and to show off on shelves.
Photo Credit: drinkmagazine.asia
Lover’s Rum is a rum brand started by an Indian bar legend – Arijit Bose – and will be available in Goa this year.
It’s clear that, in 2021, rum will be following the footsteps of gin on a path that will be exciting and rewarding.
- Pre-mixed, bottled cocktails
This trend arose in 2019 in India, but it was heavily adopted by restaurants in 2020 due to COVID-19. To minimize handling of beverages and glassware, restaurants came up with bottled cocktails that can be handed directly to the guests. Another reason for the adoption of pre-mixed cocktail was the inability to visit restaurants in lockdown and order your favorite cocktails. Thus, two wildly popular restaurants in Mumbai collaborated with Stranger & Sons to develop bottled cocktails.
Photo Credit: Mid-Day/Hunger Inc
The Bombay Canteen developed the Perry Road Peru – an ode to Mumbai’s beloved district of Bandra and the pink perus that flourish in the winter.
Photo Credit: Cin Cin India / @cincinindia
Cin Cin developed 4 different flavors of bottled negronis – Curry Leaf, Limoncello, Chocolate Truffle, and Coffee.
With these drool-worthy distillations on offer, it seems that the cocktail-in-a-bottle trend is here to stay, even once the pandemic is over.
- Rise of new, homegrown brands
Over lockdown, the Indian gin industry faced an unprecedented upheaval – five new Indian gins were released. While these brands signify a big change in the gin market, they are also a testament to an exciting trend: the rise of new, homegrown brands.
The success of these gin brands have paved the way for more alcoholic beverages, such as Smoke Lab’s vodka, Makazai’s rum, and Beor360’s beer. But these brands aren’t just competing in the Indian market, it has been a pleasure to watch the brands build an international name for themself – Jaisalmer was awarded a Gold Medal in the Fifty Best Awards 2020.
- Existing homegrown brands creating limited editions
Photo Credit: @greaterthangin
Releases such as Greater Than’s Juniper Bomb and Paul John’s Christmas Limited Edition portray the confidence that these brands have in the Indian mixology industry. There is demand for new brands, while existing brands continue to grow and flourish in their own niches.
- Cocktail Premixes
As home bartending took off over lockdown, the demand for cocktails was filled by cocktail premixes that can easily be ordered home and prepared by adding spirit. The proof exists in the story of Jimmy’s Cocktails.
While the cocktail mix was introduced to the Delhi-NCR market in September 2019, business was slow until the lockdown hit. To satisfy their cocktail craving’s, people started buying Jimmy’s Cocktails and the business grew tenfold. To top it off, Jimmy’s Cocktails raised $350k in seed, to broaden its portfolio.
Another newly launched brand – Lazy Cocktails & Co – promises to expand this market and increase the spread of cocktail premixes.
- Rise of Non-Alcoholic Drinks
When Jimmy’s Cocktail was being designed and tested, the founders kept in mind that the cocktail premix should stand tall on its own – as a mocktail for teetotallers. The niche for people that desire taste, but don’t want to consume alcohol has been found and promises to be filled in 2021.
Svami Drinks launched three zero-proof, non-alcoholic drinks in 2020: Rum & Cola, Gin & Tonic, and Pink Gin & Tonic. These drinks taste exactly like their eponymous highballs, and are made for drinking anytime, anywhere.
SOBER announced Gin and Whiskey that promise to capture the flavor of the spirits through all-natural botanical essences, while being 100% non-alcoholic.
Thus, it’s clear that 2021 is following 2020’s footsteps – the introduction of non-alcoholic beverages and pre-mixed cocktails in 2020 are bound to occupy new shelves in 2021. At the same time, 2021 will offer a ton of new homegrown brands and special, limited edition work from bastions. From the rum revolution to the rise of non-alcoholic drinks, it is an extremely exciting time to be seated at India’s Bar in 2021.