In the last couple of years there has appeared a new variety of drinks on the shelves of our supermarkets. This is the new and rapidly expanding range of pre-made cocktails which are becoming increasingly popular. But what has sparked the appearance of these bottled cocktails and do they live up to the quality of a fresh homemade cocktail or one you can buy in a bar?
The gap in the market first appeared for companies such as Bacardi and Diageo to release pre-made cocktails when recession hit the west and consequently alcohol sales in bars and restaurants dipped as sales in supermarkets correspondingly increased. Initially tested in the United States these drinks experienced a 40% increase in sales from 2008-2009 and this success initiated the expansion to European markets. In Europe they have experienced the same levels of success and consequently the range of pre-made cocktails on offer is ever increasing.
The success of bottled cocktails reflects a revival of the cocktails popularity in the last decade. Yet while there is a revived culture of cocktails in the last decade there is still few people making them at home, either unwilling to buy all the spirits and ingredients required or just lacking the time or special knowledge. Therefore these drinks are monopolizing on a clear gap in the market, which is cocktail lovers who want cocktails at home but do not intend to go out their way to make their own. Cocktail mixers are also beginning to appear, just requiring spirits to complete the cocktail.
So pre-made cocktails are experiencing profitable success but do they really live up to the real thing? Or are they merely a cheaper and quicker equivalent that customers buy knowing that what they are drinking can not truly be called a cocktail?
One of the most obvious drawback of the variety of bottled cocktails is that they contain considerably less alcoholic content than a properly made cocktail will, ranging from around 10-16% compared to a sincere Margarita which contains 30% for example. Therefore the drink misses out the full flavoring of the most essential ingredient; consequently many of the pre-made cocktails on offer are overly sweet. One cocktail drinker described the taste of these drinks relating more to kids fruit drinks than the alcoholic beverage they are claiming to be.
Another major drawback to these drinks is that they include a considerable amount of chemicals and it is fair to assume none of the ingredients can be describe as fresh. While a real cocktail by no means can be described as being ‘healthy’, the maker is fully aware of the contents which go into his or her drink and control it to their own desire.
Other complaints include the fact that these mixes are simply not well balanced cocktails, and therefore if you have any sort of quality demands when you come to your cocktails you will only be disappointing yourself by settling for a poorly mixed cocktail, though this is assumed that the drinker knows their cocktails.
Another drawback that is not widely cited but to me is a fairly obvious drawback for the culture of cocktails is that by selling pre-made cocktails there is eventually going to be indelible damage to the skill and art of cocktail making. As these drinks will improve in quality over the years and their popularity grows then one has to wonder what the future for cocktail shaking is when someone can just open a bottle and pour.
However, while there are clear negatives to the range of pre-made bottled cocktails, they are still growing in popularity and therefore these negatives must not be too great as to dissuade the average cocktail drinker from refraining from purchasing them. So unless you are an ardent cocktail lover that knows exactly how you like your cocktails, or if you are James Bond, I would steer clear from these alternatives to the real thing. But if your standards are not up there with 007 and you can enjoy a cocktail without being so picky as to dissect the inadequate flavors then these new concoctions are a perfect; quick, cheap, and easily, just grab a glass, throw some ice in, pour your cocktail, and you have your favorite cocktail in front of you with little or no effort.