2018 saw a rise in aspirational cocktails featuring lots of gin, mixed spirits, and simple names, like “Indulgence.” Even though cocktail trends are generally picked up on by experts and analysts looking at high-concept menus from the world’s most innovative bars, there’s plenty for any bartender to take away from. So, what does 2019 hold?
Expect to see these cocktail trends gain popularity in 2019
The Rise of Herbal and Floral Flavors
Lavender has been growing in popularity for a while, and there’s predicted to be a continued upswing in the trend towards unique, herb and spice offerings. Rose’s rich floral flavor and tarragon’s sweet, anise notes are going to increase in popularity, as are more unusual offerings. Culinary experts predict that 2019’s menus will feature florals, smoky flavors, sumac, togarashi, and berbere spices, so expect this influence to carry over into 2019’s cocktail trends. Tumeric, in particular, will be an ingredient to watch—it’s already showing up in smoothies, lattes, and in tea either on its own or paired with milk, honey, or ginger. Expect to see more and more cocktails featuring this golden, earthy spice.
Pineapple’s Continuing Reign
Tropical flavored drinks were big in 2018, and that trend is likely to continue—experts predict pineapple keeping the title of the world’s most popular cocktail flavor, though passion fruit is gaining fast. Incorporate pineapple as an accent for savory drinks, or in cocktails flavored with unique herbal syrups like mint or basil.
The New Wine Cooler
Following the uptick in consumption of non-alcoholic flavored seltzer, alcoholic seltzers are emerging as a must-have ingredient. They provide a bright, refreshing flavor without cloying (and dehydrating) sweetness and an easy base for an endless variety of drinks. It doesn’t take much to turn an alcoholic seltzer into a truly impressive cocktail.
Cleanliness and Simplicity
Following trends in sustainability, consumers are carrying their preference for minimalism, quality, and simplicity into their drink preferences. The average person cares about the origin of the things they buy, especially the things they eat and drink. In a 2015 sustainability report, over 65% of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for products from sustainable brands, while about 75% of Millennials and Gen Xers were willing to do so. Simple cocktails served in the right glassware, with high quality ice and responsibly-sourced ingredients will only increase in popularity.
Emerging Agave Spirits
Consumers are welcoming tequila and mezcal with open arms, and bartenders are meeting their demand. Expect to see more menus featuring different varieties of agave spirits, more cocktails featuring agave, and, perhaps, a few cocktails featuring blended agave spirits for complexity, following 2018’s trend of blending whiskey.
Flavor Will Beat Alcohol By Volume
More and more consumers are seeking out low- to no-alcohol drinks when they go to bars, and the industry is responding by expanding the range of non-alcoholic spirits and mixers available. Gone are the days of cranberry and seltzer, grenadine, and fruit juice, however—today’s clientele want the same complex, exotic flavors from their mocktails as they do from their cocktails. Non-alcoholic spirits, artisanal syrups, and low-alcohol beverages are only going to continue to grow.
Expect the Unexpected
Expect more and more cocktails featuring surprising pairings and savory ingredients, like fiddlehead ferns, chorizo, and even mushrooms. Expect to see bold, experimental choices like drinks featuring tomatillo, anchovy, or truffle, or even food-inspired offerings. Embrace culinary trends in cocktails, and find new ways to incorporate the flavor profiles of 2019’s most popular dishes in a drinkable form. Overall, consumer demands seem to favor lower alcohol content, more culinary inspiration, less sweetness, and increased innovation in flavor pairings and exotic ingredients. Pineapple will continue to be popular (though it may be unseated by passion fruit), and both rose and turmeric are predicted to increase in demand. Expand menus of low- and non-alcoholic drinks, play around with herbal and vegetable flavors, and delve deeper into the world of agave spirits to say on top of 2019’s hottest cocktail trends.