Global sales volumes of alcoholic drinks declined a sobering 0.7 per cent in 2015, entering negative territory for the first time in more than a decade.
This fall translated into a loss of 1.7bn litres of alcoholic drinks sales since 2014, according to research from Euromonitor International.
Worldwide volumes were derailed by the effects of the recent global downturn hitting China, the world's largest consumer of alcohol.
Alcohol volumes in the Asian powerhouse fell 3.5 per cent from 59.7bn in 2014 to 57.6bn in 2015.
The UK, which is the seventh largest consumer of alcohol worldwide and the second largest in Europe, fell marginally from 7.49bn litres in 2014 to 7.45bn litres in 2015.
Elsewhere, Brazil and Eastern Europe showed further weaknesses, falling 2.5 and 4.9 per cent, respectively. While Western Europe and Australasia flat lined, North America’s 2.3 per cent growth provided a shot of optimism in an otherwise sobering global landscape.
Germany, which the fourth largest market for alcoholic drinks globally and the largest European market, reported a 1.5 per cent year on year decline in alcoholic drinks volume in 2015.
"While terms such as authenticity and craftsmanship are losing traction, the trajectories of sophistication, moderation, perceived exotic credentials, accessibility and restrained yet grounded aspirational attributes remain the key driving forces fuelling pockets of buoyancy," Spiros Malandrakis, senior alcoholic drinks analyst at Euromonitor International, said.
"Premium English gin, Irish and Japanese whiskey, dark and non-alcoholic beer are the flag bearers of growth and it is no coincidence that those also happen to be the segments gaining further momentum with the ever important millennial demographic in mature western markets."
Beyond those star performers, tequila and bourbon remained solid, while cognac bounced back strongly.
Rum and vodka were among the worst performers, while still light white and red wine varietals join sparkling wines back to a healthy levels, Euromonitor International said.
"While initial forecasts suggest a gradual recovery from 2016, performance will remain substandard compared to historical trajectories. It is not the industry’s vision that is impaired but rather the horizon that can be treacherous," Malandrakis added.