Canned Cocktails and Mocktails Invest in Flavor

Ready-to-drink cocktails and mocktails are taking the world by storm. Once novelty beverages with a small following, they have exploded in popularity since 2020 when drinking at a bar was out of the question. A recent IWSR survey1 notes that hard seltzers comprise 60% of the US ready-to-drink market, with canned cocktails not far behind.
With so many new products comes exciting new beverage flavors, often combining unconventional ingredients. This trend also spills over to mocktails as the demand for low and no-alcohol drinks marches on.
Hard Seltzers and Zero-Proofs
In 2023, the US low-alcohol drinks market grew by 20%. This statistic supports the notion that consumers are consistently choosing healthier beverages. Gen-Z’s alcohol-avoidant culture is a significant contributor, but we’re slowly seeing older drinkers also jumping on the trend.
Perhaps hard seltzer is the trendiest new barely-there booze in recent years. It looks and tastes like spirits but has the alcohol content of light beers at most. Zero-proofs are even lighter, containing zero alcohol whatsoever. These spirits have had the alcohol removed, so they make a good base for cocktail lookalikes.
The Trendiest Flavor Fusions in Canned Cocktails Today
Pre-2020 cocktail (and imitation mocktail) flavorings were pretty limited. There were rules and traditions to uphold, like drinking gin and tonic with lemon or mixing a mojito with mint. Thankfully, these rules are long dead and buried, and with today’s cocktail flavorings, the sky’s the limit.

Blood orange: it may look like a regular orange from the outside, but inside, this fruit doesn’t taste like citrus at all. Bartenders have always revered it for its complex flavor that’s tart yet bitter with a hint of raspberry below the surface. Ready-to-drink cocktails and mocktails often blend blood orange with pomegranate, pomelo, mango, and floral extracts.

Jalapeño: Spicy cocktails are in, and it’s not uncommon to see tequila-based drinks and their alcohol-free imitations blended with chili pepper or jalapeño extract. These ingredients add a welcome kick to a canned mocktail, firmly placing it in the adult drinks category despite its alcohol-free formula.

Chamomile: This edible garnish is no longer garnish and now finds its way into the main act. Cocktails with chamomile extract often also feature CBD, lavender, and mild fruity flavors like melon and pear. For a more upbeat flavor, consider rose, elderflower, or hibiscus.

Fennel: the strong aniseed-like taste of fennel may be offputting to some and delicious to others, but one thing is clear: it’s a winner for non-alcoholic cocktails. It’s strong enough to replicate hops and infuse beer undertones into canned drinks, and you’ll often find it alongside other herbs. Basil, thyme, and rosemary are some favorite fennel companions.

Functional Ingredients a Close Second To Flavor
Functional drinks are the way forward for consumers who want more than a thirst quencher. Many ready-to-drink mocktails now also contain nourishing ingredients you’d usually find in superfoods or supplements, such as a serotonin-boosting compound called 5-HTP.
CBD is another functional ingredient sweeping the ready-to-drink sector. Its popularity as a natural anxiety reliever makes it an excellent addition to beverages that target holistic health. Today, people can find workday pick-me-ups and natural energy boosters in canned mocktails fortified with magnesium, adaptogens, and B vitamins.
Using Natural Extracts to Add Flavor
The ready-to-drink cocktails and mocktails market is expanding, and consumers have many options. Sub-par ingredients and flavorings no longer make the cut. Premium brands prioritize natural extracts that can support their clean label needs while providing potent flavoring. Explore our plant extracts range to find the perfect flavors for your beverage line or contact us for more information.