Here’s Everything That’s Trending In A Bar Near You

Every time we open up Twitter we’re met with a screen explaining what is trending in the world. It seems as though we as a society are obsessed with what’s trending on social media at the moment. Pretty much the greatest thing (or worst depending on who you ask) is to be a trending topic on Twitter. But, trending has existed for much longer than the existence of Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram.

Take for example the bar world. Every year (even every month) new trends emerge. If it isn’t activated charcoal and using the juice from a can of chickpeas instead of egg yokes, it’s something else wacky and inventive. There’s nothing wrong with trends and bartenders love to embrace new ingredient and technique as much as the next guy. But, since we don’t know, we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us what’s currently trending in the cocktail world. You can check out their responses below.

Tim River, food & beverage director for The SIX15 Room in Minneapolis

What’s currently trending in the bartending world?

“There have been more natural-based spirits in the cocktail world. I collaborated with BET Vodka last year, which is a local vodka distillery here in Minnesota, which makes its vodka from Sugar Beets right here in Southern Minnesota. Also, one of the new spirits that I will be featuring this quarter is the Rum Haven Coconut Rum made with all-natural coconut water. These seem to be the trend and I see more and more distillers and suppliers looking for these natural ingredients to shine through in their product.”

What ingredient is trending in the cocktail world?

“I’ve been noticing more earthy/umami flavors being incorporated into cocktails as well. It seems that blending the savory/earthy flavors are pairing not only well with unique dishes created by the chefs, but also with the tastes of the more millennial patron.”

Joel Mesa, beverage director at Pisco y Nazca in Miami

What’s currently trending in the bartending world?

“I’ve noticed a couple of trends in the bartending world lately including cocktails geared towards more efficient service for better customer experiences. Additionally, I’ve seen a lot more bartenders using local spirits, and when possible, local ingredients and the integration of lower ABV cocktails.”

What ingredient is trending in the cocktail world?

“A couple of trendy ingredients right now include amaros, sherries, vermouths and bitters. Each add a different, unique element to cocktails. Various herbs are also becoming a more common component in cocktails everywhere- think mint, basil, tarragon, rosemary. Herds are very cost effective and they add balance to cocktails.”

Shawn Chen, bartender at RedFarm in New York City

What’s trending in the cocktail world?

“I think Whiskey is going to continue its dominance in the cocktail and spirit world in 2018. People are drinking more whiskey and Scotch-based cocktails than ever! My customers will often come in asking for the Penicillin cocktail or any of our other house cocktail made with Japanese Whisky. The majority of people who ordered it don’t necessarily know what is in the cocktail, these people are simply following the cocktail trend or really enjoying the uniqueness of the spicy and smokey flavor profiles of Whiskey and Scotch-based cocktails. For any Whiskey purist, they will frown upon any Whiskey concoctions that is not served neat. However, Whiskeys have gained popularity in recent years as a great base for many mixed cocktails, or as a finishing touch to a cocktail for an aromatic oomph.”

What ingredient are you seeing in a lot of cocktails lately?

“One ingredient I see a lot in the cocktail world is edible flowers and fancier garnishes. I have passed the cocktail era of canned garnishes and simple citrus oil or botanical mists. The garnishes are becoming a major component of the overall aesthetic and presentation of a cocktail.”

Brett Esler, bartender at Whisler’s in Austin

What’s trending in the cocktail world?

“Four months into 2018 and a few trends have already made themselves at home. The biggest one I’m seeing right now is ‘Frosé’, short for frozen rosé. And in this Texas summer heat, it makes sense because it’s absolutely delicious 100% of the time it’s ordered. I might have had one last night, just saying.

What ingredient are trending?

I’ve definitely noticed vegetable juice being used pretty regularly this year at the places I’ve frequented. Celery, beet, carrot, you name it. Another one that I’m also seeing pop up here and there is verjus, an unripened grape juice that provides lovely acidity to cocktails.

 

Franky Marshall, bartender at Le Boudoir in Brooklyn

What’s trending in the cocktail world?

“Cutting down or eliminating non-reusable: straws, coasters, napkins, etc. I’ve been conscious of trying to cut down on waste and re-purposing for some time. I’ve still got a way to go, but I try to reuse as much as possible, and I even have one ‘closed loop’ cocktail on the menu.”

What ingredients are trending?

“Pineau des Charentes – This blend of fresh grape must and Cognac eau-de-vie is extremely mixable, pairs well with food and is great to cook with as well (in place of say, a vermouth). It has many applications for cocktails as a base, modifier, or seasoning. It’s also low ABV (17%), so as we move into the warmer months and are looking for long drinks, it’s perfect with Tonic, thyme and a slice of grapefruit. I’m still working with savory elements in drinks: mustard, curry, salt, oils (roasted pumpkin seed right now). Using these elements not only lead to unexpected flavor profiles, but can add texture, mouthfeel, color, etc., depending on the ingredient.”

 

Rob Ficks, head bartender at The Hawthorne in Boston

What’s trending in the cocktail world?

“Something that I’ve noticed is that bartenders are making more informed decisions on how they curate their respective bars. They aren’t just looking at which product is offering the best value, based solely on price. Folks are entertaining some other very important factors that come into play. How is this product made? Is it made with care? Is it expressive of the place from which it comes? What about the company? Is this a company who is aligned with the core values of our bar program? These are questions that I am excited to see more bartenders asking. It leads down the rabbit hole, where you start learning about and traveling to the places that these spirits come from and experiencing the context that gives these spirits their character. When you are that passionate about the products you carry, you are not just selling a product. It’s a special thing that we are able to share our experiences through whatever cocktail or spirit we pour for our guest.”

What ingredients are we seeing in a lot of cocktails lately?

“As far as cocktails, I’ve been seeing more bartenders putting bitters where they ‘don’t belong’ or using them in cavalier amounts, especially when it comes to tiki. It makes sense, though, right? You have an entire class of cocktails that skew way towards the sweeter side. What counterbalances sweet? Sour and bitter. Two great examples are the Jungle Bird and the Trinidad Sour, two of my favorite cocktails. If you are able keep all of the flavors balance, you can come up with something that rips across your palate like a flavor bomb. I hope to see this trend continue and get to try more unorthodox bitter cocktails in the future.”

 

Ben Potts, bartender at Beaker & Gray in Miami

What’s trending in the cocktail world?

“As far as fresh ingredients we are working with, we are turning toward more obscure vegetables like tomatillo, chayote, and beets. We also try to think outside the box as far as syrups like macadamia nut orgeat and clarified milk products like a clarified oatmeal milk punch or honey nut cheerio milk punch (especially for brunch applications). We’re starting to work with culinary items like the continuous centrifuge, the Spinzall which can make all manner of infusions and clarified products.”

 

Alex Koblan, bar manager at Bully Boy Distillers in Boston

What’s trending in the cocktail world?

“I think right now the cocktail world is trending in a very classic direction with a focus on riffs – subbing in different spirit bases to things like negronis and manhattans. I’ve also seen the world of bitters explode over the last few years with tons of new brands and unique flavor combinations coming out onto the market. Making your own bitters is always a fun and time consuming hobby to pick up, too. In a different vein, I’ve seen so many sherry cocktails on menus right now. I think people caught onto the incredibly vast array of flavor profiles sherries can help accomplish (salty, sweet, dry, nutty).”

What ingredient are you seeing in a lot of cocktails lately?

“Spring is always a fun time to see cocktail menus develop because of all of the cool produce coming out. I would definitely expect to see more fruits and veggies incorporated in unique ways into cocktails over the next season. Personally, we like to challenge ourselves with local produce (tons of that here in New England…) but believe it or not you can incorporate beets, carrots, celery, all kinds of fresh components into a tasty and well-balanced cocktail.”

 

Kate Fugate, bartender at Sweet Auburn BBQ in Atlanta

What’s trending in the cocktail world? 

 All the cool kids are into mezcal. It’s light, yet smokey, and adds depth to summer cocktails. You can substitute it for tequila in any cocktail for an added thrill.”

What ingredient are you seeing in a lot of cocktails lately? 

 Ginger is a good ingredient to have on hand, and it’s a great addition to all styles of cocktails, making it very popular among bartenders. It adds a spicy little zing that can balance out the sweet and pairs nicely with acid from citrus fruits. We use it all the time and make a wonderful ginger shrub from fresh ginger root.”

 

Diego Peña, bar manager at Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks in Boston

What’s trending in the cocktail world?

“Sustainability in the overall sense of the word.  I’ve seen some bars take initiatives to stray away from the use of single-use straws and move into reusable options.  Making patterns in their everyday to reduce the amount of food waste behind bars. Bartenders and managers are practicing healthier lifestyles to endure the taxing physical nature of the job. Hiring and equally paying people of any ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexually orientation. Using spirits as the highlighting ingredient instead of over-manipulating with an abundance of “unique” ingredients. The focus has shifted from the glass to the guest, although it starts with the contents in the glass being tasty, balanced and complex.”

What ingredients are trending?

“Large, clear, hand cut ice.  Water is one of the most important ingredients in every cocktail so it nice to see clear and clean ice over foggy and hazy ice balls that come from a mold.”

 

Don Pirone, beverage director at Brezza Cucina in Atlanta

What’s trending in the cocktail world? 

 Moving into warmer months, we will be seeing a lot of wine/suppressor based cocktails as well as frozen/crushed ice drinks. For me, this trend is hit or miss – I’m a sucker for a great frozen mezcal margarita, but I’ve also seen some overly sweet abominations that make me cringe. The key, as with all things beverage, is to balance alcohol, sugar and acid.”

What ingredient are you seeing in a lot of cocktails lately?

“I’ve noticed more and more bars using infusions (e.g. infusing vodka with fresh cucumber) instead of just ordering flavors from a wholesaler. This gives the bartender the opportunity to get creative with flavors and spirit styles instead of being beholden to a particular brand. I think the creative license this gives the bar is awesome.”