Kombucha: The Cocktail and On-Tap Trend to Watch in 2021

For the modern bar, kombucha’s natural effervescence and tangy characteristics make it an ideal mixer or on-tap beverage. (Kombucha On Tap)

By Deanne Gustafson and Jared Gustafson, Kombucha On Tap

The pursuit of wellness in the COVID-19 era has boosted consumer's desire for healthy beverages. People are increasingly looking for food and beverage options that offer functional benefits in addition to basic nutrition and refreshment.

Kombucha – the ancient beverage – made with fermented tea, sugar and SCOBY (a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) has been popping up on more and more cocktail lists nationwide. For the modern bar, kombucha’s natural effervescence and tangy characteristics make it an ideal mixer for unique cocktail concoctions. You can even serve kombucha on tap, making it more accessible than ever.

The Kombucha Market
Overall, kombucha is one of the fastest-growing segments of the beverages market, especially in the functional beverages category. According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, in its Global Kombucha Market 2019-2028 report, the global kombucha market is likely to progress at a CAGR of 22.21 percent during the projected period of 2019-2028. Per the research firm, the trend of health drinks and healthy hydration, paired with the demand for flavored kombucha drinks, is motivating the growth of the kombucha market globally.

Newer flavors of the product have certainly helped kombucha’s success – such as Blueberry Mint, Pineapple Turmeric, Pomegranate, Tropical Punch and more – and many of these are far more accessible than early kombucha products.

Kombucha On Tap
Photo: Courtesy of Kombucha On Tap

Indeed, the demand for functional beverages and exciting flavors will continue to thrive in 2021, setting kombucha up for success. Expect fresh, fragrant kombucha flavors like hibiscus, elderflower and orange blossom to be combined with other fruits, herbs and botanicals – all of which work well in cocktails.

Kombucha at Bars, Restaurants
In 2021, consumers will be looking for lighter, fresher, healthier mocktails and cocktails, and hard kombucha is a great fit. Expect to see a demand for “dual-purpose” mocktails and cocktails with lower alcohol by volume – cocktails that emphasize functional ingredient blends, such as kombucha. Since many beverage enthusiasts seem to be attracted to the low-proof cocktail trend because it’s supposedly "healthier," hard kombucha should stand out.

Like its non-alcoholic counterpart, hard kombucha is filled with live probiotic cultures that may contribute to a healthy gut microbiome and support digestion, which makes the drink even more attractive to the healthy-minded. Of course, hard kombucha checks all the boxes – it’s 100 percent gluten-free, lower in sugar, calories and carbs, and it’s super bubbly, so it’s appealing to the health-conscious consumer.

In addition to kombucha cocktails made-at-the-bar, ready-to-drink [RTD] kombucha cocktails will be on the rise. Overall, watch for an ever-expanding list of kombucha options, flavor choices and blends to offer customers or use in cocktails, in addition to serving kombucha on tap at your establishment.

Kombucha Cocktails
After the headache of 2020 and the ongoing challenges the hospitality industry faces now, we could all use some fun cocktail recipes. Try something entirely different this year for yourself or your customers – a mix of tropical kombucha, rum and sliced serrano peppers, perhaps?

The SoCal Mule:
4 oz Ginger Kombucha
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime

Tropical Paradise:
3 oz of a Tropical Kombucha Flavor
3 oz Rum
1 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Agave
1 Sliced Serrano Pepper
2 Dashes Bitters

Kombucha Mimosa:
Add your favorite flavor of kombucha with equal parts champagne and orange juice or other cold-pressed juice of your choice. Garnish with fresh fruit.

Deanne and Jared Gustafson are a couple of kombucha enthusiasts and the owners of Kombucha on Tap, a kombucha and cold brew coffee distributor based in San Diego, Calif. Ever since the company was founded in 2014, Kombucha on Tap has supplied the healthy drink to hundreds of businesses in the Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County and Riverside County areas of California. To learn more, visit