Sweet Solutions

Meanwhile, Funkin has released a range of Citric Syrups, designed to be used to make sherbet cocktails. The syrups are inspired by sweet shop flavours and the nostalgia of pick ’n’ mix sweets, the company says. The collaborative effort between the Funkin team and restaurant chain Be At One is designed to meet the current demand for cocktails that play on retro flavours.

Regardless of the fad and flavour, Funkin managing director Andrew King says consistency is key but also a challenge when creating a cocktail syrup. “Consistency is one of the biggest challenges bars face as different members of staff will make a syrup, but not necessarily to the same standard.”

For now, at a mass-market level, sugar-free syrups are few and far between. The reason for this, Finest Call UK brand manager Peter Thornton says, is: “Low calorie cocktails keep popping up, but they are yet to make a big impact on menus and make up a small percentage of serves if they are listed.

“The ‘Skinny’ options tend to be at the higher end, too, where herbs and vegetables are used as key ingredients.”

Thornton might not see a proliferation of the market, but he says sugar-free cocktail syrups have their place. “I think they are a good idea, and making drinks ‘better for you’ in terms of sugar content has to be a good thing.

“The possibilities are endless for cocktail syrups, and it can only get bigger and better as a category. You think you have seen it all, and then someone comes along with another creation.”

Ultimately, Thornton says: “People who drink cocktails expect a good drink, and as long as the finished drink is good, then be it sugar-free or not, the quality is all that matters.”

Working with sugar substitutes can be a sticky business. For bartenders and big companies alike, getting the product to taste right and be one that people want to use is a fine balance.

In a world that is increasingly looking to labels for sugar levels and calorie content, it is naïve to think that people won’t demand this of their cocktails in the on and off-trade.

If the lobbyists have their way – as they already have in many European countries and Mexico – a sugar storm is brewing and it’s time for the trade to batten down the hatches and find the right sugar solution.