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Premixed cocktails steal share from beer and hard seltzer, propelling surging growth


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In 2021, premixed cocktails surpassed beer and hard seltzer as the fastest growing spirits category.

According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., sales of premixed cocktails rose 42.3% to $1.6billion compared to a year ago. Ready-to drink cocktails were second to vodka for volume consumption and beat American whiskey, mezcal, tequila, and rum.

“We think it comes from beer and hardseltzer,” DISCUS Chief for Public Policy Christine LoCascio stated at Thursday’s trade group’s annual economic briefing.

“It’s probably a mix of many things,” she said. However, with sales at off-site remaining strong, I believe people continue to buy cocktails products at home.

Since years beer consumption has been in decline as more people opt for less alcohol, or prefer to have cocktails and hard seltzer. The category’s growth rate is stabilizing after years of rapid sales of hard seltzer. Euromonitor International projects that hard seltzer in the United States will only increase by 35.1% between 2020 and 2021, compared to a 64.1% rise in 2020, and 126.5% for 2019.

Gin and tonics, or vodka sodas ready-to-drinks, have been popular choices for consumers who want a stronger flavor or an alcoholic beverage than hard seltzer. This category offers a wider range of options, including margaritas to whiskey sours and palomas.

Some of the biggest players in the industry are already investing in this category. They either make their own labels or buy small labels. Anheuser-Busch InBevJohnnie Walker was the distiller, so Cutwater Spirits was purchased. DiageoIt has also launched offshoots for some of its most popular brands such as Crown Royal and Ketel One Botanical.

Premixed cocktails make up a tiny portion of the spirits industry’s $35.8billion revenue. Premixed cocktails also make up a small portion of ready-to-drink, which includes soft seltzers and sodas. Market researcher IWSR says spirits-based canned cocktails make up 8% of the market, while flavored malt beverages account for 91%.

Canned cocktails become more in demand, and the spirit industry is growing. has been pushing for states to lower their excise taxesthe spirit-based beverages. Since the beginning of prohibition, alcohol has been subject to excise tax. However, since then, the Federal Government and the states have taxed spirits higher than any other alcohol. Some lawmakers and watchdogs regard liquor’s high alcohol content as taboo.

Chris Swonger, CEO of DISCUS said that lowering or making the taxes on spirits-based RTDs less fair and competitive will increase consumer access to these products. We’ve witnessed craft distilleries that are just starting to enter the market see RTDs based on spirits as prohibitively expensive, due to the high tax rates.