Bartender Unapproved: Bartending Trends From the Last 10 Years That We Can Do Without
In the last decade, bartending has changed. The professional has gone from a side-hustle to an exciting career for creative, driven mixologists. Sure, if you step into your neighborhood dive bar, you might still find surly barkeepers handing out draft beers without a bit of enthusiasm. But, for every lowbrow watering hole, there’s an inventive, imaginative cocktail bar complete with seasonal takes on classic cocktails along with their own delicious recipes. But just because cocktail culture is booming, that doesn’t mean it’s all puppy dogs and sunshine. There’s a dark side to the mixed drinks world and it’s the lame trends that catch on. These are the techniques and ingredients that dominated the 2010s that bartenders (and drinkers) are pretty much sick of. Check them all out below and ask yourself if you really want to keep these traditions alive in 2020.
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If you don’t know what a shrub is, here’s a refresher. It’s a highly concentrated cocktail syrup made with various fruits, sugars, and vinegar. It’s acidic and sweet and took the cocktail world by storm in the last decade. We don’t mind if it’s listed in a recipe, but we’d settle for some flavored bitters instead.
There’s a difference between a small, historic cocktail bar and your neighborhood saloon and it’s not just the blinking “Genny Light” sign behind the pool table. It’s that one feels the need to add special ice to their drinks. It’s fine, but we really don’t need it. It’s the drink we care about.
In the last few years, a bizarre trend has emerged: pitch black cocktails made with activated charcoal. It’s gross, unhealthy, and played out.
Sure, it’s now the roaring ‘20s (again) but that doesn’t mean we need to keep opening speakeasies. We don’t hate them, but we’re not too worried about Prohibition authorities shutting down our favorite gin joint anymore.
In the last decade, the art of cocktailing has spread from coast to coast. This has lead to new and exciting cocktail bars popping up from Bar Harbor to Bakersfield. But, all of this excitement has led to some bartenders taking their art to a snobby level that alienates some drinkers.
Overly Elaborate Recipes
We’re all for nuanced flavors, but your seasonal Manhattan adaptation really doesn’t need 12 ingredients. We don't want to wait all night for one drink.
When we order a Bloody Mary, we’re perfectly happy with the drink and maybe a piece of celery to stir it (though even that isn’t totally necessary). We don’t need a whole cheeseburger and a half-dozen pieces of shrimp to enjoy our vodka, tomato juice, hot sauce and spices.
Go ahead and throw a slice of lime or lemon in there, but we don’t need half a cucumber and a whole jalapeno pepper. We’d rather not have to move a giant vegetable out of the way every time we try to take a sip.