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Celebrate World Cocktail Day On May 13

It’s World Cocktail Day on May 13, and with survey results showing that Kiwis are falling increasingly in love with the special drink, it’s time to celebrate!

May 13 marks the first time the word “cocktail” was published, and the beginning of the drink’s rise in popularity around the world.

On the same day, in 1806, the New York based tabloid ‘The Balance and Columbian Repository’ defined a cocktail as “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters…” in response to a reader’s question about what a cocktail was. The word then became an increasingly regular term in the vernacular of the English-speaking socialite.

Over the next 220 years, and particularly over the past 40, cocktails have slowly built a strong following in New Zealand.

While consumers are choosing to drink less overall, they are opting to drink cocktails more and more, says Spirits New Zealand CEO, Robert Brewer.

“This is happening for a range of reasons, with the chief amongst them being that cocktails create the opportunity for you to sample artisan ingredients and watch a bespoke drink being crafted in front of you,” he says.

“This also reflects an increase in the ‘sip and savour’ trend, where during a time of economic uncertainty, consumers are buying one or two high quality drinks per night, and savouring them throughout the evening,” Brewer continues.

Research from Spirits New Zealand*, undertaken late last year, shows that cocktails now form the solid core of drinks menus for most bars and restaurants, with 90% of bar and restaurant venues offering cocktails as part of their menu.

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Brewer continues: “World Cocktail Day is a great opportunity to explore the cocktail list at your favourite local bar or restaurant, or to celebrate the cocktail at home by trying a new recipe, such as the Once Upon a Time in Bollywood**”.

Once Upon a Time in Bollywood (Photo supplied)

In terms of Kiwis’ cocktail preferences, as avid coffee lovers, it’s no surprise the Espresso Martini was shown to be the most popular cocktail New Zealanders are purchasing – both in 2023 and in 2022.


*Survey conducted via Survey Monkey amongst 113 bar and restaurant personnel and between September 5 and September 18, 2023.

**Once Upon a Time in Bollywood
Recipe courtesy of Monsoon Poon

30ml Indian whiskey

30ml American rye whiskey

1 dash of Benedictine

2 tsps of boysenberries

20ml of turmeric infused honey

30ml lemon juice

15ml egg white

Add all the ingredients into a shaker. DRY SHAKE. Open and fill with ice and WET SHAKE. Double strain.

For the turmeric honey – take 300ml of runny honey, 100ml of boiling water and 2 tsps of turmeric. Stir well to combine and if needed heat on low if you need to combine further. Leave to cool.

About Spirits New Zealand:

Spirits New Zealand is the national trade organisation representing New Zealand’s leading producers, distributors, brand owners, importers and exporters of premium spirits and spirit-based drinks. We represent over 98% of spirit industry interests in New Zealand.

Spirits New Zealand mission is to be a positive, trusted, credible voice in the alcohol debate, advocating on behalf of the spirits sector and helping to provide economic certainty for members.

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