On trend

30 August, 2017

Angel Brown compiles the experts’ views on what is hot and what is not in the world of bartending today


CURIOSITY KILLED the cat, but satisfaction brought it back’ – a fitting line for the industry’s most searching question: What are the future global cocktail trends? Getting a straight answer to this question is never easy, but the rewards for brands that track trends early and successfully are so high it’s always worth trying.

Elite bartenders are the trendsetters in spirits and cocktails so they are the best people to ask. Essentially, they are always looking to create the next big thing. These guys have a big task on their hands – they start the drip effect, which percolates through to the mainstream and often ends in the off-trade.

Before we hear from these trendsetters, let’s summarise their observations. The bartenders from around the world we spoke to think gin is still the frontrunner when it comes to cocktails, but mezcal, tequila and whisk(e)y are also popular. Fortified wines such as vermouth continue to gain momentum and, while lighter-abv cocktails are popular in pockets, they’re not the global standard.

A growing trend is local ingredients, with more bartenders shopping at markets, foraging and adapting cocktails to reflect domestic heritage, while sustainability remains a work in progress for now.

Lab equipment and technology such as sous-vides, sonic prep, Rotavapors and centrifuges are becoming commonplace in high-end bars in the quest for new flavours and more efficient prep.

One element that remains a staple for bartenders is the classic cocktail. The way in which the classics are produced might be changing – seasonal, local twists are now common – but these go-to recipes are the backbone of the bartender’s repertoire. That’s the general consensus, but let’s hand over to the experts. We spoke to: Matt Whiley, Scout, London; Stacey Swenson, Dante, New York; Vasilis Kyritsis, The Clumsies, Athens; Josh Harris, Trick Dog, San Francisco; Antonio Lai, The Envoy, Hong Kong; Tim Philips, Bulletin Place, Sydney; Jimmy Barrett, Zuma, Dubai.


VK: I believe gin now is one of the most growing categories worldwide. Also I’m focusing more on vodka, vermouth and sherries in different versions.

SS: Mezcal and tequila continue to be on the rise. I also see more guests interested in other types of Italian bitters/aperitvos. We have been using vermouth and other fortified wines as base spirits more often.

AL: Gin is still a largely growing category in Hong Kong, partly due to the colonial heritage and the many expats in the city. Surprisingly, we’ve seen vermouths as a category gaining strength in this market. The people are focusing on less alcohol and more flavour, with an inclination towards ‘healthier’ options as well.

TP: In Australia it’s probably gin for consumers (still). Bartenders are using a lot more vermouth and fortified wines in general as well as aperitifs reigning supreme. There is some phenomenal grappa making its way to us at the moment. Definitely also the rise of local barley spirit whisky is good to see.

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