Alcopops were here for a good time, not a long time. At its height in 2002, the ready-to-drink (RTD) sector was worth an estimated £1.6 billion. Within three years, it had shrunk by 22 percent amid frequent accusations of encouraging underage drinking. Older revellers, even those just out of their teens, were turned off and the government reacted by significantly raising duty.Perhaps the most notorious of these original alcopops was Hooper's Hooch, which—at its height—was selling close to 2.5 million bottles a week. Branded as alcoholic lemonade and with two cheery looking cartoon lemons on the label, it was the main focus of ire, quite reasonably, for those who believed alcopops were being marketed directly at kids.
Alcopops were here for a good time, not a long time. At its height in 2002, the ready-to-drink sector was worth an estimated £1.6 billion. Within three years, it had shrunk by 22 percent.
Simply put, these drinks are no sweeter or less refreshing than their modern counterparts, though in some cases a little cheaper tasting. The main problem, as Forsyth suggests, is that they are just too tarnished. Today's brands spotted a sugary hole in the market and quickly filled the cavity but were a lot cleverer with their marketing. They are still drunk by very young people and underage drinkers.
On flipping the cap off my Smirnoff Ice, I'm greeted by the stench of cleaning chemicals and urine, but am happily releasing nostalgic, citrusy burps in no time.
"In the on trade, brands that are engaging through social media, pop-up bars, and bar takeovers are gaining the most traction, ultimately, creating a 'distribution pull,' giving consumers a reason to drink and the licensee a reason to stock," says Phillip Montgomery of drinks consultancy CGA. "Tapping into this mentality may help RTD brands to drive a resurgence."Perhaps, but the overwhelming feeling is that the moment has passed. The only thing alcopops really have to offer is a sweet hit of nostalgia and not even at a lower price point—flavoured ciders are cheaper in most supermarkets per litre than say Smirnoff Ice, despite a similar ABV.Nevertheless, the drinks are an important part of the UK's drinking narrative and should be remembered fondly as such. Maybe alcopops will make a comeback as an expensive cocktail ingredient as stocks plummet. Our tastes haven't matured as much as we'd like to think: I finished that Smirnoff Ice.