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Will the fusion drinks trends in bars translate into a positive generational shift for Port and Sherry?

Our last instalment of Network News included a story on Portuguese wine varietal and region names, and some comments on port & tonic caused a bit of excitement. We decided to take this further and consider other mixed drinks local to certain countries (or even just to small regions within a country) and explore what it takes for a certain combination to make it into the mainstream.

Most drinks have many differing stories about the origins of their invention. Ukraine, Poland and Russia argue about who invented vodka (we’re not going to offer a view). The Mojito is alternatively sourced as a medicine of South American Indians (used to cure dysentery), and as the drink invented by African slaves working in Cuba’s sugarcane growing regions. In a similar way, several different bars across the world claim to be the place where the Bloody Mary was invented. The Gin & tonic of course harks back to the British colonies in India, and was invented as a combination to take the bitter edge off quinine which was needed to combat malaria . The Caipirinha is thought to have been invented in São Paolo to combat Spanish flu, and in its original form contained garlic and honey.

It’s hard to say what factors helped to popularize these drinks – celebrity endorsement no doubt helped in a couple of cases (where would the Mojito be without Hemingway? Or James Bond and the Martini?) Bacardi’s ongoing Mojito campaign probably helps boost the popularity of this drink; however in the case of the rest, there has been no particular campaign to bring them into the mainstream. And there are hundreds and thousands of drinks which are just as good as the above mentioned ones, which have simply failed to take off internationally.

For entirely biased reasons – because they are very popular summer drinks in the office at the moment – we are hoping that Port & Tonic and Andalucia’s Sherry-based Rebujito (see ingredient list, below) will be the next fusion drinks to make it big globally. As well as attractive ingredients, their story also works well: old school drinks, relatively high in alcohol and supposedly belonging to an older era, reinvented in a lower alcohol, refreshing and more visually lively form. Theirs is part of the Fusion trend which we documented in this year’s Wine Intelligence Consumer Trends Report.

One question remains, which we will keep an eye on. Are these fusion drinks purely appealing to the younger generation? The initial evidence would say yes, though perhaps this is because some of these fusion drinks are not easily available in the off trade, where most over-35s do their drinking, and also it may be that some of these trends are purely confined to the bars and pubs where generally younger people hang out.

Our view is that some of the drinks, particularly the ones based around wine (still or fortified) will have more life in the off trade, as the youngsters of the Noughties become the stay-at-home parents of the 2020s. What better way to recall that weekend in Porto?


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Author: Eva Maitland