A few years ago, young men and women aged 18 to 30 began an upward trend in consuming alcohol, enticed by brewers who added colour, herbs, sweetness and music to the drinks marketing.
And now weekends, music and flavoured alcohol blend easily. Alco-money is flowing to musicians, promoters, venues and record labels from endorsement deals and commercial partnerships.
At the same time, alcohol makers are gaining a following of new drinkers.
I was at a recent pink gin event. I was not a gin fan, but like many millennials and Gen Z, I came to understand that a glass of alcohol needs to be Instagram-perfect, and pink gin is somewhat picture-perfect.
At the ‘Pinknic’ event, there were oddball concoctions infused with everything from Indian turmeric to native Tasmanian botanicals to Pinot Noir wine (Eleven Bridges), Shiraz wine (Four Pillars), and even rhubarb Sippin.
Yes, rhubarb, and to match the theme we wore some pink tank tops matched with blue jeans.
The music, drinks and a lot of clicks of photos gave the young consumers the energy to keep drinking.
Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) innovations manager Shirlyn Ndumbu says that this first edition of Gilbey’s Berries Mixed and Matched Pinknic party comes at a time when consumers are looking for memorable experiences and occasions to celebrate with their friends.
“This will be the first of a series of events to showcase music, games, and fashion that our gin lovers enjoy, accompanied with amazing cocktail drinks from Diageo-certified mixologists,” she says.
Gin consumption is growing, thanks to collectors, creators and enthusiasts alike, thirsting for the botanical spirit. Common gin brands in the Kenyan market include Gilbey’s, Beefeater and Gordons, with gin alcoholic percentage averaging 40 percent.
“I’m a big fan of gin. It’s a love that my friend passed down to me. I remember going to her place and she would make a G&T [gin and tonic] on a sunny afternoon. She would measure the gin and slowly add the tonic to see its sparkling bubbles. I loved how a simple G&T could bring people together. Naturally, it became my drink of choice too,” says Mitchelle Kwamboka, one of the thousands of gin drinkers at the party.
Gin cocktails have always been popular but now mixologists have made the creations even better.
Ariel Blue, another gin drinker says she prefers to make a cocktail, saying she is a sweet tooth person, insisting that real fruit garnishes will always trump flavoured gins,
“When first I heard about gin from my friends I had to do a lot of research on it. I love gin because it has less sugar and fewer calories than other liquors. I got to love it when I tasted a gin peppermint cocktail. I love experimenting and making the cocktails, I am trying to get my mother to join me on the Gin O’clock,” says Ms Ariel.
While established gin markets have seen category growth starting to peak, several other non-traditional markets are seeing gains. According to IWSR forecasts, global volumes of gins are poised to grow by over five percent by 2026.
Consumption is also on the rise and is expected to grow by about four percent between 2018 and 2023.
Moses Mutahi says he loves it because it has no hangover.
“Gin does not give me a hangover, that’s why I will have it any time, anywhere, and then to add the pink gin is flavoured with fruits so it tones down the alcoholic content I believe, the fact that I can access it in cans is the reason why I can’t go back to the spirits,” he says.