Graduations, weddings, becoming a parent, becoming a grandparent, promotions, anniversaries, vacations, birthdays, a night on the town, and a quiet dinner date at home. What do all of these things have in common? They all involve the consumption of alcohol. No matter the occasion, there’s always a reason to have a drink, and since the COVID pandemic, we’re consuming even more alcohol than before. Even though we could no longer meet for drinks at a bar, overall alcohol consumption actually grew by 14% during quarantine, with the top growth demographics being among women (17%) and millennials & Gen X’ers (19%). Forty-four percent of Americans began buying their alcohol online which caused a 243% spike in online alcohol sales. Instacart alcohol orders also grew by 75%. And the emergence of ready-to-drink cocktails are here to serve.
The pandemic also naturally caused a spike in home bartending, and now we have new Quarantinis to add to our mixed drink repertoire. Some of these drinks include the Kumquarantini; a mix of rye whiskey, kumquat syrup, lemon juice, saffron liquor, and egg whites. Or if you want to embrace your inner health nut while consuming your alcoholic beverage, you might enjoy the Kombucha Quarantini, which includes a blend of gin, kombucha, and blackberries. We also can’t forget this throwback to the great toilet paper shortage of 2020; the Charmin Quarantini, with vodka, cointreau, lime juice, simple syrup, cranberry liqueur, and toilet water (just kidding.)
No matter what’s going on in the world, alcohol has been there to help us cope and help us celebrate. Cocktails have played a big role in human history. Gin & Tonic (gin, tonic, and lemon or lime) was popularized by the Brits in the 19th century as a health tonic many traveled to India and warmer climates. Maraschino Cherries became popular in the early 1900’s after a New York Times post in 1910 reported on a young woman who had ordered dozens of Manhattans at a fashionable hotel. Upon investigation it was discovered that the drinks were still untouched, but all the cherries were gone. By 1915, the cherries were popping up in drinks and ice creams all over the country.
Another interesting bit of cocktail history is that the Spanish flu of 1918, much like the COVID pandemic, also produced it’s handful of cocktails including the Corpse Reviver (gin, cointreau, Lillet Blonde, lemon juice, and Absinthe); the Penicillin Cocktail (Scotch whisky, lemon juice, honey syrup, ginger, and Islay single malt Scotch); and the Medicina Latina (Mezcal, honey ginger syrup, and lime juice.)
The Mai Tai was created by Victor J. Bergeron, or “Trader Vic”, in 1944. It included rum with lime, orgeat, orange curacao, and simple syrup. However, in 1954, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel began adding pineapple and orange juice to sweeten the cocktail and this new recipe quickly became the standard.
And who could forget the Pina Colada? Created by Ramon “Monchito” Marrero in 1954, this fruity drink includes rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice. In 1978 the Pina Colada was named the official drink of Puerto Rico.
Although classic drink mixing still reigns supreme, the 2020 pandemic brought a huge boost in the sale of ready-to-drink cocktails. In fact, sales of these quick drinks rose by 43%. By 2024, ready-to-drink cocktails are expected to make up 20% of alcohol e-commerce.
Someday soon, we may all be headed back to bars and restaurants, but with everyone becoming a bartender at home since COVID, the invention of ready-to-drink cocktails might just be something to celebrate. We’ll drink to that!