By Jessica Pook

From sustainable cans to elegant boxes, cocktails are finding new ways to cater to the on-the-go market and are fast becoming the new trend onboard, says Jessica Pook

As I sip and sample my way around the stands at WTCE, two things start to become obvious – how strong these drinks are and that on-the-go cocktails are a bang on trend.

But how do you take a product known for being something of an art, complete with professional mixologists, elegant garnishes and precise measurements, and make it accessible onboard?

The drinks industry is forever innovating to impress: think craft beers with their citrusy hops and chocolatey undertones; or ‘ginspiration’ with trendy botanicals and pre-canned options. But while the classic cocktail has changed little over the years, it is frequently considered a complex and expensive luxury surrounded by ceremony and style tricky to deliver on aircraft where convenience and space saving are key.

Attempting to put an end to the cocktail drought onboard, Funkin Cocktails has introduced a range of canned ‘nitro’ cocktails, available in Amaretto Sour, Expresso Martini, Pink Gin Fizz and Passionfruit Martini. The nitro element produces a foam head which gives it the smooth, velvety feel of a freshly made cocktail. The brightly coloured cans along with the respectable 5% alcohol volume have appealed to the likes of Thomas Cook taking the Passionfruit Martini can onboard this summer.

Simon Leno, senior trade marketing manager of Funkin Cocktails says: “Cocktails are exciting. They offer something different. For some they are an indulgence, however, we see them becoming more popular as the macro ‘premium-isation’ trend continues. When consumers are travelling they are often relaxing, looking for a treat and prepared to spend that little bit extra. Cocktails fit those occasions perfectly.”

CANTAILS is another contender in the cocktail arena. Founder Myles Donneky used his award-winning mixologist skills to create high-quality cocktails that still taste great when packaged in aluminium cans. Available in Expresso Martini, Mojito and Elderflower Collins with a Passionfruit Martini soon to be added to the mix, all the ingredients are sourced by Myles and his business partner Kit themselves. They taste test them too for balanced flavour, sweetness and alcohol strength. Each cocktail is also taste tested by a panel of industry cocktails experts before release.

“There seems a desire within the travel retail industry to serve high-quality cocktails with ultimate ease. Our product takes the same amount of time as pouring a beer so guests no longer have to wait for a great cocktail,” says Donneky. The cocktails are packaged in 250ml slim aluminum cans which are 100% recyclable.

Among the most inventive products in the cocktail market is NIO (Needs Ice Only). This ready-to-drink cocktail range is packaged in a cardboard square pocket, with the liquid cocktail mix in a plastic pouch inside. Shake the pack, pour over ice and serve. Created by Patrick Pistolesi, an internationally renowned mixologist, NIO has all the classics covered, from Negroni to Cosmopolitan to Whiskey Sour and the product has no expiry date.

Benjamin Blum offers its gin-based cocktails in glass bottles. Perhaps more suited for premium cabins, these sophisticated drinks use recipes that date back nearly a century. They feature craft ingredients from traditional producers around Europe, blended with a London dry gin. Each bottle contains between three to four servings and is best served over ice. The range includes Negroni – Italian bitter and red vermouth with British gin and a twist of black tea; Aviation – a blend of gin, maraschino, liqueur de violette and lemon with a hint of white tea; and Orange Bloom – British gin, Italian red vermouth and French triple sec.

And, as I ended my cocktail tour of the stands I was pleased to find a non-alcoholic alternative too. Austria-based Twisst offers a range of ready-to-drink canned mocktails with an 18-month shelf life. With both still and sparkling options, the classic cocktail mixes include a non-alcoholic Pina Colada, Mojita and Irish Cream.