Ah, 2019. How time flies. I did promise myself to have this post out by January the 1st and already it’s the 13th. Yikes, Way to go keeping to that new year’s resolution of better time management “patronising thumbs up to myself in the mirror” But better late than never I suppose, so here it is! My predictions for the cocktail trends of 2019.
Firstly, let’s just recap on how last year went for the industry. Last year we seen a massive rise in Spritz. Liqueurs made a comeback. Craft beers with artsy designs filled our fridges with colours. And the tequila category grew enormously, like, thousands of cases sold more in 2018 then 2017. People stopped drinking tequila as a shot and started drinking tequila cocktails, appreciating the spirit in a different light.
Everybody opted for straw free cocktails #savetheturtles and who could forget the Pink Gin epidemic. I mean seriously, there was a time where I was ordering more Pink Gin for the bar I work in then I was regular Gin. It spread like a wildfire and bartenders across the UK had to appease the public demand and create Pink Gin based cocktails. And it wasn’t just Pink Gin making a name for itself, 2018 shown craft gin was still going strong. Regardless of how saturated the Gin market has got, people this year have still been releasing new gin brand after new gin brand. Not that I’m complaining… I love me some Gin.
In summary, 2018 was all turtle saving, Pink gin, Spritz and independent brands. Which meant for the most part, cocktails where light, sparkling and pink.
But what’s in stall for 2019?
2019 The year of the pig. The last year before the 2020’s. Last of the teens. Judging by what I’ve seen, and what guests seem to be asking for. Here are my 6 cocktail trends for 2019. Overall, I reckon the new year will see plenty of variety in cocktails.
1) Low ABV Cocktails
A recent study revealed that 30% of 16-to-24 year old’s avoid alcohol entirely. Whilst 45% of 25-to-34 year old’s are opting for lower-alcohol offerings. It used to be all about “What’s your cheapest but strongest cocktail” Which, by the way. Is one of my most hated customer phrases. People went for the most booze as they could. Now however, it seems people are wanting lower alcohol percentages in their cocktails.
Why?… One reason is likely due to the “home bartender” people who are not bartenders by profession, who may work the normal 9-5 shift, but go home and create their own cocktails. Its something that we see a lot thanks to social media, which is pushing the cocktail scene forward. People enjoying the science behind cocktails, the history, flavour combinations and overall, the enjoyment of creating their own cocktails. It means people are looking to TASTE cocktails. Not just looking to get pissed. So lower ABV drinks mean they can stay out drinking for longer, before having to get the drunk uber trip home.
This is something we go through every year. Dry-January comes around and suddenly Mocktails are trending… for 31 days. Then they go back to mocktail hibernation for another year. This year, however. I feel mocktails are around to stay. With people opting for more of a healthy drunk-less lifestyle it means more people are searching for good mocktails. Meaning you will be seeing a lot more on menus. And im not just talking about sugar filled tropical juice. No no no, people are trying to live healthier these days. And people want/expect the same level of mixology they see in cocktails in their mocktails. Which means mocktails are going to start getting interested.
That means all the fermented soda, house infused syrups and complex flavours you are used to with cocktails, will be seen in mocktails. And with brands such as Everleaf. A non-alcoholic aperitif. And “Rum flavoured syrup” even the designated driver in your group can share the same great drinking experience. Without having to sit in a corner, sipping on a pineapple juice with mint leaves whilst their friends sit around them drinking the cocktails with ingredients you can’t even pronounce.
80% of the bartenders surveyed on Forbes noted they will incorporate more non-alcoholic options on their menus. So expect this years mocktail trend to last a lot longer than January.
Bartenders have actively been looking to reduce bar waste. And with consumers becoming more aware of the environment, if you’re not getting down with sustainable bartending then you are not going to get to far this year.
Tips to create zero waste, sustainable cocktails below…
Dehydration: Quirky garnishes that can’t be consumed are just getting thrown away after their use. That’s not sustainable. So, all your cocktail garnishes need to be edible. And perishable ones wont last. So dehydrating fruit will last you a lifetime of edible garnishes.
Fermenting: Keeping away from perishable ingredients is great, It’s the easiest way to make zero waste cocktails. If nothing’s going bad, and nothing needs to be thrown away then you’ve cracked sustainable mixology. Well done. However, sometimes, you need to use perishable ingredients, most fruit favourites are perishable, fresh limes, lemons, strawberries. So what do you do once they start to go bad?
One thing you can do is to ferment them left over ingredients into a soda to use to top cocktails with. See a whole article on fermenting sodas here
Infusions: Another way to get rid of them perishing ingredients is to infuse them into syrups or spirits.
Lose the straws: That’s right, this one doesn’t need much explaining. Straws are bad. However, if you must have them, opt for biodegradable ones or metal reusable straws.
4) Healthy Cocktails
It seems people are opting for less sugar, and more healthy options. It’s becoming apparent that you no longer must consider going out for a cocktail, as a cheat day in your diet. You can have a cocktail and feel healthier for it. This means I expect this year to see less high in sugar ingredients and more healthy replacements. Ingredients like cucumber and aloe Vera will shine. All things green and packed with nutrients!
Reason 1: Way back in the day, spirits and liqueurs were made cheaply, and thus needed a generous dosage of sweetness to balance out them bad flavours. But take a look at your back bar nowadays, or the supermarket shelves and you will see a host of liqueurs and gins, ditching the extracts and opting for higher quality botanicals. Which means we no longer have to create ultra-sweet drinks for them to taste good. We can ditch the sugar and still have great tasting drinks.
Reason 2: Food. Year after year people are keeping an eye on healthier food options. More and more people are wanting healthier meals, more people are ditching the meat and opting for plant-based diets. And as is normally the way, food trends slowly make there way over to drink trends. And what 2018 seen as the year for being conscious for what you’re eating, will carry over to the glass and 2019 and will see that within drinks.
So with people wanting only the highest quality, fresh ingredients. And not wanting high calorie, overly sweet cocktails. That leads to one thing. Healthier cocktails!
5) Savoury Cocktails
Umami reigns! umami is a pleasant savoury taste imparted by glutamate. A type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate (Try saying that sentence after a few cocktails) Savoury cocktails have been featuring more and more on cocktail menus and blogs alike over 2018, It’s a trend that I feel will carry on throughout 2019. Hurray, the pickles back! And yes, that was a pickle back joke.
Why?… It seems people are experimenting more with flavour. Great cocktails are seen all over social media and people want a taste. People are becoming aware of the fact that they can re-create great tasting cocktails at home for a fraction of the price you would pay in a bar. So, when people DO go out drinking, there wanting a cocktail that they haven’t had before, there skimming past the usual popular ingredient filled cocktails in search for something a bit more… unusual. Savoury cocktails fir that description. “A mushroom martini? What, I’ve ate plenty of mushrooms, but I never imagined drinking one! I must have it!” said the humble cocktail advocate.
6) Brunch Cocktails
With healthy cocktails, mocktails and low ABV cocktails. People can feel better about drinking earlier on, seems so they will be drinking for the taste and not to get smashed. Which makes me think brunch cocktails will get a whole new revamp within the industry. This doesn’t mean more drinking. It means instead of having a whole bottle of wine when the clock strikes 9. people are instead having a cocktail to accompany brunch, A cocktail after lunch to digest. It means people are drinking higher quality cocktails. Which is what its about. Quality not quantity.