Hot spice: the lowdown on ginger drinks
There was a time a few years back when a week didn’t go by without a ginger- flavoured launch. The scene has quietened down a bit, but ginger has become a cocktail staple and suppliers say consumers’ increasingly sophisticated palates mean they are even more likely to favour the fiery root’s flavour.
Soft drinks in particular have been capitalising on the spicy trend.
Sales of Cawston Press Apple & Ginger juice blend are on the up. Sales director Dan Broughton says: “A new generation of grown-up soft drinks is slowly emerging, with higher quality ingredients and a more adult taste profile. Tastes have become more sophisticated when it comes to food and alcohol, and ginger drinks need to move in the same direction.
“Ginger is a versatile flavour – delicious and refreshing with a bit of zing over ice in the summer, but can also be gently warmed, or mixed with hot water, for a winter warmer.”
Ginger works particularly well as a natural flavouring, fitting in with a trend towards healthier, less artificial products across the board.
James White Drinks makes ginger soft drinks under the brand name Great Uncle Cornelius.
Managing director Lawrence Mallinson says: “We use pressed ginger juice rather than artificial or even natural flavourings. The consumer is often surprised by this – and while some do not think this gives our products enough kick, which is normally from capsicum rather than ginger, most are enthusiastic about the gently warming rather than fiery result.”
He adds: “Ginger is not the new kid on the block anymore so the buzz may not be around ginger drinks. But the appetite for ginger has not diminished. Ginger enthusiasts are ginger enthusiasts for life – and they are still out there in droves.”
Fentimans pioneered the ginger resurgence with its non-alcoholic ginger beer made with bruised ginger roots.
Head of marketing Andrew Jackson says: “Consumers are still interested in ginger drinks for their perceived health benefits and natural flavour.”
Broughton at Cawston Press says: “The reality is that the time’s right for the off-trade to capitalise on a major change in consumers’ need for better quality soft drinks – ginger ones included.
“Preservatives and additives have for so long been associated with canned soft drinks and there are still too few opportunities for consumers to choose a ginger drink that contains genuinely high-quality natural ingredients. These kind of touches appeal and matter massively to modern consumers.”
On the alcoholic side, ginger is becoming a staple cocktail ingredient. Ginger liqueurs, wines and even alcoholic ginger beer market leader Crabbie’s are being touted as blending choices to meet consumers’ growing thirst for the flavour.
Crabbie’s is devising a new range of cocktails, which it is promoting through social media.
Richard Clark, marketing director at brand owner Halewood International, says: “Consumers still have a deep interest in alcoholic ginger beers, because ginger is a natural ingredient and the category provides a point of difference with the many fruit- flavoured products on the market.
“Crabbie’s is steeped for six weeks and is a versatile liquid, including as a base to be used with spirits such as Red Square vodka and Lamb’s Spiced rum.
“Brands need to look at bringing new consumers into the category, by ensuring that products are versatile and can be used for different occasions and uses.”
Crabbie’s is also running a TV ad campaign featuring the voice of comedian Vic Reeves, with the strapline Try It, You Might Like It, and holding sampling events over the summer. Flavoured variants such as Scottish Raspberry are also working out for the brand.
The King’s Ginger liqueur has become a cocktail staple and is perfect for blending with Champagne, according to brand manager Leanne Davidson.
She says: “The King’s Ginger has very loyal consumers, but we are finding they are becoming intrigued by how else they can drink it.
“By simply adding some Champagne, you can open the drinking repertoire of the consumer and allow them to explore occasions they may not have thought of.
“The King’s Ginger has an abv of 41%, so it can be used as the base in cocktails as well as a modifier. This has led to experimentation in a variety of serves – such as The King’s Ginger Summer Cup with cranberry and lemonade – that are not that classic winter serve normally associated with ginger.”
Danielle Jones, trade marketing manager for Cornish Orchards, which has recently launched a soft ginger beer to sit alongside its alcoholic ginger beer, says consumers’ tastes are getting more sophisticated.
She says: “We have seen a shift away from sweet ginger drinks to more natural products. Consumers are looking for a more premium, crafted product.”
Broadland Wineries is seeing increasing demand for its Fruit & Country Ginger Wine, which has been made since the company launched in 1965.
Marketing manager Ben Cameron says: “The key to ginger’s success is its quality-to-value ratio offering. Our ginger wine is excellent on its own but also makes delightful cocktails and spritzers.”