Cocktails From February 2016

Producing shelf–stable cocktails

The consumption of cocktails is on the rise, and drinks companies are keen to capitalise on the increase in demand. Ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails or pre-mixed bases to which soda water or another mixer is added make mixing and serving cocktails easier, but also present challenges.

When different liquids are mixed, their chemistry changes and, in part due to the lower alcohol content by volume (ABV), the stability and shelf-life of the product are reduced. Non-alcoholic cocktails present additional microbiological challenges, due to the absence of alcohol and its antimicrobial properties

Extending of cocktail shelf–life is not simple

As the shelf-life is extended, the sensory differences between the premixed product and a freshly made cocktail also increase. The challenge is to balance the two to create a commercially viable product with a realistic shelf-life that still tastes good.

Preservatives such as sorbic acid can extend shelf life but preservatives or antimicrobial agents are seen as unfavourable options. Pasteurisation can work well, but the best equipment is expensive to install. Heat tunnels can be set up but time control can be a challenge and, if the product remains too hot for too long, it can seriously compromise its quality. Freezing is another option, but consideration must be given to the speed of freezing, as well as the packaging.

The practicalities of mixing and stabilising cocktails and filling the packaging with the product are, sadly, sometimes only considered right at the end of the product development process. To ensure that your product is safe, stable and of high quality it is essential to think about these issues when starting the NPD process. Contact us to do just that!

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