• DIAGEO WORLD CLASS partners with world renowned trend forecasters, The Future Laboratory, to reveal the next global cocktail trends
  • Report reveals the rise of ‘sensploration’ – multi-sensory cocktail experiences
  • Cutting-edge ‘sensploration’ trend showcased at the WORLD CLASS finals in South Africa in September 2015

DIAGEO WORLD CLASS has partnered with The Future Laboratory, one of the world’s most renowned futures consultancies and trend forecasters, to delve into the future of cocktails and reveal the latest cocktail trends set to revolutionize cocktail making and drinking. 

From virtual reality, to cocktails based on your personality and sensory preferences, The World Class Cocktail Futures report identified one of the strongest new trends as ‘sensploration’. According to Future Laboratory, sensploration focuses on every aspect of the cocktail experience, not just the taste. In a multi-sensorial world, bartenders are using sensploration to create cocktails that defy comfort levels, push taste boundaries and explore every sense. 

The research reveals that with the cocktail market expanding at a rapid pace, there is an increasing need to diversify in new and alternative directions. The Global Alcoholic Drinks market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 1.49% in terms of volume and 3.16% in terms of revenue over the period 2013 to 2018, mainly driven by an increased demand for premium alcohol.  

While historically cocktails predominantly enjoyed recognition in only Europe and America, they are now enjoying global growth. As globalization continues and with global social mobility rising, cocktail culture is flourishing and diversifying as different countries, including Africa, Asia, Central and South America, reinterpret cocktail culture.

“Year after year, we can see that cocktail culture is flourishing and diversifying as different countries reinterpret cocktail culture. The growth of the World Class Programme, from 18 countries participating in 2009 to 54 in 2015, reflects what is happening in the cocktail market, with bartenders from different parts of the world bringing unique and trendsetting cocktail and drinking experiences.” explains Johanna Dalley, World Class Global Director.

People the world over are enjoying a sensory splurge, with more dynamic, immersive and visceral multi-sensory experiences filling every aspect of their lives. In fact, according to the report, 70% of Millennials in the US say they crave experiences that stimulate their senses and more than half feel increasingly disconnected from the physical world.

As such, the report reveals that cocktail lovers are increasingly keen to explore all the sensory elements of a drink – from the taste, to the smell and even the texture – in order to experience a drink in its fullest sense. As Wes Pickering, Managing Director at Inkorporate, a drinks creative agency, commented: “The people you’re with, the way you’re being hosted, the way you’re made to feel, the music and the surroundings. It’s not just about what’s in your glass.” 

The findings also reveal that tapping into all the senses creates a more emotional connection with cocktail drinkers. A study by Oxford University found that even the type of receptacle a cocktail is served in can influence the expectations and flavour perception of a drink amongst drinkers. The study also found that altering the environment within which the drink is consumed can enhance the taste and enjoyment of spirits like whisky by up to 20 per cent. 

Ian Cameron, Creative Brand Director at Bompass & Parr, a drinks creative studio from London, explains: “We all live in a multi sensorial world all the time. I think what we’re becoming cleverer at is manipulating those factors and being able to amplify and play up certain qualities, whether it’s sonic, audio or visual, for a particular purpose.” 

When it comes to embracing new technologies, the report highlights the opportunity that virtual reality and augmented technology provide when it comes to stimulating the senses like never before and pushing the cocktail experience even further, with the consumer virtual reality market expected to grow from $90m in 2014 to $5.2bn by 2018. Moreover, the study shows that with sales of experiential luxury accounting for 56 per cent of luxury sales, cocktail drinkers will spend more on augmented, boundary-less cocktail experiences.

Bartenders, bars and restaurants are reacting to the rising trend of sensploration by exploring new and innovative ways in which cocktails can be consumed and presented, with ‘cocktail journeys’ now filled with surprises, twists and turns with elaborate sensory elements. This is in response to the fact that consumers are leaving behind their preconceptions and rational thoughts and discovering new products by making sensory and emotional choices. The Ritz Carlton Hotel in Berlin, for instance, has a visual, sensory cocktail menu where patrons choose a scent that reflects their personality. Another example is the Lounge Bohemia bar, in London, where only at the end of the sensory journey are the ingredients of cocktail revealed.

At the 2015 WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year global final, held in Cape Town in September 2015, the 54 finalists – from more than 50 countries – demonstrated how ‘sensploration’ will become a key cocktail trend for consumers. Jack Sotti, a finalist from Australia, created ‘The Stealth Bomber’ – a cocktail made from Bulleit Rye Whisky, shaken and strained into a stemless wine glass, then floated using magnetic levitation technology. By levitating his cocktail, Jack Sotti defied all expectations of how a drink could be served, forcing spectators to abandon their preconceptions and rational thoughts.

Michito Kaneko, winner of the Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS Bartender of the Year 2015 competition, commented, “Bartenders are becoming drink architects; it’s no longer enough just to set a glass in front of someone, it’s about the craft behind the bar and the overall consumer journey and experience. It is about more than just tasting a good cocktail, it is about creating the multi-sensory experiences and discoveries around it”.

Johanna Dalley added, “WORLD CLASS is on a mission to make the world drink better and as such, we want to guide those who care about what and where they drink towards the best bars, the best bartenders and the best drinks in the world. It means predicting and creating new trends in cocktails and drinking experiences. What we are seeing with ‘sensploration’, is new and engaging ways of getting people excited and wanting to learn more about great drinks. It is what the top bars in the world do so well and we are seeing this filter down into more everyday drinking experiences, which is very exciting for consumers.”