Each December brings a laundry list of predictions and trends for what the next year of cocktails and drinking culture will likely focus on. A lot of the time these predictions are no more than pointing out what seminars were popular at last year’s Tales of the Cocktail, or what style of drink received the most press after Diageo World Class. Predicting trends and publishing them on a global platform is likely the easiest way to ensure those trends come true. Young bartenders will likely see the prediction, and if they haven’t seen it hit their market, it is an easy way for them to be first out of the gate if the trend can function within their bar program. Below we’ve collected a selection of trend predictions from drinks writers and added a few of our own.
From the Bacardi USA Brand & Marketing Team (excerpts from www.nightclub.com)
“Fresher and healthier is better, says Hillary Choo-Jaroschy, who works south Florida for Bacardi. Today’s bartenders and bar managers are no longer afraid to create housemade juices, syrups, shrubs, and sodas, and are using more or almost exclusively fresh, health-conscious ingredients.”
Our Take: Shrubs were so 2014 and fresh juice and house made syrups have been in the mix since the 90s. Not really an upcoming trend – this line of thinking should be an industry standard by now.
“The trend of clarified milk punch is in the midst of its second historical revival, and most of the world is rediscovering it in either technique or spirit,” says Asare-Appiah. Milk punch, a 17th century England concoction, is starting to make a comeback and can be expected on more craft cocktail bar menus.”
(Photo: Pina Clear-ada at the newly opened Gift Shop in Toronto – Photo Credit Donnie Wheeler)
Our take: There were two seminars at Tales last year that focused on the Milk Punch. I have personally been to more than a handful of bars that are offering a version of this drink. It is can be difficult to prep, and it takes some time and care – but the result truly does ‘wow’ the guest.
Adrian Biggs, Director of Trade Engagement, says frozen drinks are being upgraded and overcoming the decades old bartender hate. “Folks have been upping their frozen game and translating these concoctions into expertly prepared cocktails.
Our Take: Again, another trend that I feel was one for last year. I think the main point Adrian is making is that a lot of bars have now saved up the money for a machine and have found the space to install it. So while the bars that started the trend in 2015-16 will likely move on, the idea will definitely find its way into the mainstream.
“Jaymee Mandeville, Bacardí’s West Senior Portfolio Ambassador, says guilty pleasures, like Pina Coladas and Appletinis, are set for a comeback. Bartenders have recently begun to revisit these decades-old cocktails…re-imagining them with fresh, quality, housemade ingredients, transforming them into delicious, complex and well-executed drinks.”
Our Take: I can personally relate to this one – we’re almost done “re-discovering the classics” and the big change in bartending in 2016 was to lighten up and have fun. I think we’ll see a lot of this punk drinks come back and get featured with a 2017 flair.
From the Forbes.com Lifestyle page
“Adding a culinary twist to classic cocktails with unique ingredients like roasted grapes, salt-roasted plantains, smoked tomato water, puréed red pepper, snap peas, corn, or even pickling brine to create either sweet or savory culinary cocktails.”
Our Take: Savory drinks are definitely gaining traction. The use of vegetable juice and tinctures has been gaining pace on cocktail menus this entire year. I think we just need to come to an agreement that ‘punny’ names can be left off the menu.
“Wine and cheese remain the top food and drink pairing, but fresh new combinations like oysters and gin or sherry and fries will emerge as chefs and bartenders collaborate more on tasting menus and small plates.”
Our Take: Seems about right. I feel that with the surge in sherry drinks in boutique bars over the past 15 months we are overdue for this to hit the mainstream. Both the LCBO and BCLDB have upped their sherry game and we’re already coming off a major trend of low-proof & aperitif drinks – sherry plus oysters? Yes please.
“Signature cocktails developed out of fermented beverages like Kombucha, ginger beer and coconut kefir for creations like a cranberry and tangerine Kombucha cocktail.”
Our Take: The Kombucha cocktail are on pace to be the new Beer Cocktail. Kombucha is easy to make, and hits a variety of flavor components in a single ingredient – it can be sweet, sour, effervescent, bitter, tangy. It also is a great look on the back bar when it is in progress, a great talking point for guests.
From CPBA President Trevor Kallies
Glassware will take a step forward. I think 2017 will be the year when drink vessels typically only seen in Cocktail competitions will find their way onto Menus. Dozens of bars have been doing a great job with vintage glassware. Nightjar, Tales & Spirits and countless other bars are proving that drinkware and garnish are a way to skyrocket your brand to the Top 50 in the world. I truly feel that bars will start investing in fresh and interesting vessels for menu cocktails.
Menu Simplicity will make a comeback. I feel over the next twelve months you’ll see a lot less 6-8 ingredient cocktails and a surge in ones that are only 3-4 (including garnish). With the ever-increasing accessibility in high quality modifiers, I think that the need for drops and dashes of tinctures and infusions to balance cocktails will reduce and simplicity will reign.
The year of the Scotch-tail. As distilleries form the UK continue to increase Non-Age-Statement product innovation, thus making single malts easier and cheaper to put on the back bar and into menu drinks I think the opportunity has finally arrived for bartenders to have some fun with scotch. The Penicillin proved that a peat-forward drinks can be world famous. I think 2017 will bring a new surge of Scotch-Forward cocktails.
There you have 10 Predictions for the next 12 months of Cocktail and Drinking culture. These are only opinions and predictions and we’d love to get your feedback on what you think 2017 will bring for cocktail trends. Feel free to comment on the thread below to get the conversation going.