Coca-Cola is debuting a line of four craft mixers next month in the U.K. designed to bring the taste of Coke to popular cocktails and mixer drinks. Developed with the help of European mixologists, the Coca-Cola Signature Mixers contain the classic soft drink infused with smoky, spicy, herbal or woody flavors.
The mixers are being packaged in Hutchinson-style glass bottles, which were first used by Coca-Cola in 1894, and the labels will have the signature of the master mixologist who co-created the product, the company said in a press release.
The collaborative project started in March 2018 when several mixologists were invited to attend a Coca-Cola curated workshop held at a secret location. Ana Amura, senior brand manager at Coca-Cola Great Britain, said the new line is partly a response to the rise in the popularity of mixed drinks.
This isn't the first foray into cocktail mixers for Coca-Cola. In 2017, the Atlanta-based company introduced a Royal Bliss line of eight tonic waters and citrus-flavored mixers in Spain, accompanied by 10 mixologists as "brand ambassadors," plus a chef, music producer and perfumer who created products inspired by the products.
These new Signature Mixers, though, are crafted to be blended with so-called "dark spirits" such as whiskey, rum and bourbon. According to Drinks International, at the product launch the Smoky variety was mixed with Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey, Spicy was paired with Bacardi Rum, Herbal with Grey Goose Vodka, and Woody with Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky.
Coca-Cola has been innovating in a number of new directions lately — along with purchasing coffee and sparkling water brands — with an eye toward becoming what CEO James Quincey calls "a total beverage company."
The company revamped its Diet Coke line last year, introduced Orange Vanilla Coke with and without sugar in 2019. More recently, it introduced its first energy drink in Spain and Hungary and just debuted a non-alcoholic cocktail concept called Bar None in Atlanta.
And while Coca-Cola hasn't launched into full-on alcoholic beverage manufacturing — although it did debut a canned "alcopop" beverage in China last May — making cocktail mixers seems like another step in that direction. Mixers have been a recipe for success for FoodStory Brands, which enlisted mixologists to develop its Cocktail Artist line of mixers and syrups in 2017 using premium contents without high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors.
Coca-Cola's product innovations may help boost the company's bottom line and compensate for continuing lagging sales in its core soda business. Reaching out to millennials, one demographic leaning into the cocktail culture, is a smart way to find new audiences and potentially bring back consumers who have strayed from cola and other sugary drinks. Coca-Cola also is smart to solicit insight from mixologists who know what these consumers want, while placing their signatures on the bottle — giving further credibility to the offering that already is able to piggyback off of favorable global recognition of Coca-Cola.
This new lineup of craft mixers also might allow Coca-Cola to cultivate relationships with alcoholic manufacturers since Coke is such a well-known mixer in its own right. The market could one day see a packaged Bacardi Rum and Coke product, for example, or perhaps pairings with other branded spirits.
Coca-Cola already is combining its signature soda with coffee in an attempt to capture consumers looking for an afternoon pick-me-up, showing that the beverage giant is not afraid to expand the reach of the well-known drink into other areas. And should Coca-Cola one day decide to make the leap, there could even be cocktails and other beverages combining Coke with CBD.