The use of fresh ingredients, the rediscovery of bitters and tinctures, and a return to classic drink recipes in the last few years has changed the way we think about what goes into our glass. What's next? These nine trends are influencing bar menus across the nation and redefining the traditional cocktail; find out what's hot and where to sip it.
1. The Trend: Carbonated Cocktails
Traditionally, mixologists relied on mixers like ginger ale, sparkling wine, or soda water to add some fizz to their cocktails, but new carbonating devices, like the Perlini cocktail shaker, now allow them to carbonate without diluting the alcohol.
Where to Try It: Sample a drink made with the revolutionary shaker at Vessel in Seattle.
2. The Trend: Draft Cocktails
By serving cocktails on draft, mixologists can make large batches of cocktails before the evening rush and add carbonation to them. Don't let the tap fool you – these are craft cocktails are made with high-end spirits, house-made sodas, and fresh ingredients.
3. The Trend: Barrel-Aged Cocktails
Craft cocktails take time to prepare. Barrel-aging serves two purposes: it allows mixologists to prepare large batches of popular drinks, like Manhattans, ahead of time, and it imparts a richer flavor, much like barrel-aging Chardonnay adds complexity.
4. The Trend: Vinegar Cocktails
A few drops of vinegar can add flavor, depth, and balance to cocktails on its own or in the form of a shrub – a sugary fruit mixture macerated in vinegar.
5. The Trend: Evolving Ice Cubes
As ice melts, it can water down a cocktail, leaving behind a weak reminder of its former glorious self. Or, it can add flavor. An increasing number of mixologists are experimenting with custom ice cubes.
Where to Try It: You'll find cinnamon ice and cranberry ice on the drink menu at Drumbar in Chicago.
6. The Trend: Soda-Fountain Inspirations
During Prohibition, some bartenders put their skills to use at soda fountains making non-alcoholic floats, egg creams, phosphates, and milkshakes. Today, you can order alcoholic versions of these nostalgic drinks.
7. The Trend: Garden-to-Glass
Like the farm-to-table movement that inspired chefs to grow their own produce, the garden-to-glass trend is seeing an increasing number of mixologists tending potted herbs on the bar or even planting their own vegetables and fruit.
8. The Trend: Mezcal
Whiskey and bourbon remain the go-to bases for craft cocktails, but Mezcal – a Cognac-like spirit made in Mexico from the Agave plant – is gaining ground in popularity.
9. The Trend: No- and Low-Alcohol Cocktails
Prohibition-era drinks can pack a punch. As an alternative to these boozy beverages, expect to see more no-alcohol or low-alcohol cocktails made with sherry, champagne, wine, and beer.