The State of Modern Liquor Packaging Design

Craft distilling in the US is a multi-billion-dollar industry, with somewhere close to 2,000 operating distilleries across the country. This number speaks to the consumer’s willingness, and at times, desire, to try new drinks. One of the key battlegrounds where distillers compete for consumer attention is on liquor store shelves, where an increasing number of options have begun nudging established brands away from market dominance. For new liquor companies needing to effectively capture the attention of potential customers, innovative packaging can help.


Take a trip to your local liquor store, and you’ll likely see shelves overflowing with options and a wide range of bottle designs. Liquor packaging designs run the gamut from new, colorful and fun designs to heritage brand aesthetics that have stood the test of time.

Now, however, brands must continue raising the bar on design elements, and must also incorporate more innovative design tactics into their product to really cut through. In this piece, we’ll take a quick look at a few examples of liquor companies that have managed to set themselves apart with innovative packaging.

Courtesy of Moment & Dieline


Moment Vermouth found a simple, brilliant way to get consumers involved in their packaging: provide multiple labels with each bottle sold. In order to convey that vermouth, a popular cocktail ingredient, can be sipped in many contexts, this company offers different labels that emphasize 8 different moods, from joyous to nostalgic to skeptical, and more. Each paper label does more than identify the bottle, it lets shoppers create the mood.

Some are softer colored and flowing, some are darker shades and moodier in design, while others are bright and energizing. The labels can be placed wherever the customer desires on the bottle, with the only other branding being a simple text-based logo and a signature bright red bottle cap. The interactivity, the innovative use of paper, and the gorgeous design all help Moment rise above the competition and deliver a good vermouth for a wide range of occasions.

Courtesy of Absolut & Packaging Digest


Across all packaging markets, sustainability is an increasingly prominent focus. In many instances, this means incorporating paperboard as a highly workable, effective, and recyclable material. Now, more package designers are realizing the untapped potential of paperboard for beverages. Major brand Absolut vodka recently announced a new prototype for a paper bottle, following in the footsteps of Johnnie Walker, Coca Cola, and a few members of the wine industry.

This exciting development promises to capitalize on a growing consumer sentiment: products should be crafted with a greater good in mind. In these instances, using a bit of technological savvy and creative thinking has helped introduce a paper-based, sustainable alternative to glass bottles (which, for the record, have been around since 1500 BC—(perhaps they’re due for an update). Keep an eye out for paper bottles on shelves, though you probably won’t have to look hard; packaging that so effectively shakes longstanding industry trends will certainly be the most eye-catching thing on the shelf.

Courtesy of Caparo


While there are plenty of novel approaches to modern packaging design, there is always room for simple, well-done aesthetics to help brands succeed. One example is Caparaki, a limited-edition alcohol product created through a partnership between a design firm and a distillery. The bottle itself features very few graphic elements, just a small smiling doodle toasting a glass and some text.

The paperboard box it comes in features an intricate, all-encompassing web of fun doodles from the design team, on plain paperboard. The illustrations range from a man playing keyboard to a bowl of soup, from little birds flying around to a monkey riding a surfboard. The mood is playful, unpretentious, and embodies the intended spirit of fun and celebration.


While the star of the drink discussion will usually be the spirit itself, effectively presenting that liquor to consumers is a crucial first step. With that in mind, brands are continuing to innovate ways to stand out. These innovations capitalize on social changes, like sustainable bottles, on new approaches to customization, like Moment vermouth, or on simple, fun design like Caparaki. Regardless, liquor store shelves will continue to be a great source of packaging design inspiration. For a more expansive look at upcoming retail packaging design trends across a wider range of industries, take a look at our recent report here.