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Experts predict 14 tippling trends for 2014

Cocktails to go and high-tech bartending are among the trends predicted to shape the on- and off-premise drinking scene in 2014.

Cocktail and bar trends for 2014
From high-tech bar tending to simple, classic cocktails, we look at the 14 spirit and cocktail trends predicted to dominate the drinks industry in 2014

Fourteen trends have been listed in the first Hanna Lee Communications Cocktails and Spirits Forecast identified by Noah Rothbaum, editor-in-chief of and author of The Business of Spirits.

Among the trends identified by the industry expert were a return to classic cocktails, high-tech bar tending and cocktails made-to-go.

Rothbaum said: “2013 was a great year for drinkers, with a range of excellent new bars opening across the country and many important new spirits entering the market.

“2014 is shaping up to be just as exciting. Both innovations and a return to classics will continue to drive growth.”

Marketing Agency Hanna Lee Communications already has plans to compile a similar forecast on an annual basis by working with a range of experts.

“We were very excited to work with Noah to gain his insights into what’s ahead in 2014 for cocktails and spirits,” said Hanna Lee, president and founder of Hanna Lee Communications.

“This forecast will benefit the spirits and cocktail industry overall.”

The Spirits Business recently asked some of the world’s leading bartenders to predict their own hottest cocktail and bar trends for the year ahead.

Click through the following pages to see the 14 biggest trends set to dominate how we drink spirits and cocktails in 2014. 

Locavore tippling and Russian vodka


1: Locavore Tippling

Dozens of craft distilleries have opened across the US from Oakland to Brooklyn, all producing an array of spirits including bourbon, gin, absinthe and applejack. But the best part about these new tipples is that many of them are produced from locally sourced ingredients, and will continue to be embraced by their communities in 2014.

2: Drink vodka like a Russian

As athletes from all over the world prepare to go head-to-head in February at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, there will be no competition when it comes to which spirit will be dominating the bar. Vodka, Russia’s national drink, will power infusions and will have an abundant presence in cocktails throughout the course of the games.

Cachaça and professional cocktail parties


3: Saude! (That’s “cheers” in Brazil)

With the World Cup this June and the Olympics in 2016, all eyes will be on Brazil. As athletes go head-to-head in two of the world’s largest sporting events, there should be no shortage of queues at the bar giving Brazil the optimum opportunity to showcase its national spirit, cachaça, and its signature cocktail, Caipirinha.

4: The professional cocktail party

Festivals and conferences devoted to cocktails and spirits are taking the US by storm. Tales of the Cocktail is the original and largest cocktail conference for the bartending community and New York’s Manhattan Cocktail Classic is one of the most prominent consumer-focused events on the scene. Among those cities that have already jumped on the bandwagon are Boston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Portland, San Antonio and San Francisco, with more cities expected to follow.

High-tech bar tending and Bourbon and rye whisky cocktails


5:High-tech bar tending

Bars all around the world are using innovative methods to offer something different to their drinks. Centrifuges, liquid nitrogen, smokers and lasers are among the pioneering techniques being employed at bars such as Honeycut in Los Angeles, 69 Colebrooke in London and Brooker and Dax in New York in an attempt to bring cocktails into the 21st Century.

6: Bourbon and Rye Renaissance

Consumers and bartenders alike have been crying out for more diversity in flavoured spirits, leading to a strong comeback from Bourbon and rye whiskies. Not only are they as popular as sipping spirits, these tipples are a firm favourite for cocktails.

Cocktails-to-go and flavoured spirits

Flavoured spirits

7: Cocktails-to-go

It has never been easier to enjoy your favourite cocktail at home thanks to artisanal brands and top bartenders launching their own lines of handcrafted bottled cocktails. From Palomas to Negronis, simply pour over ice and enjoy.

8: Flavour bombs

Thanks to the success of flavoured vodkas such as peach and strawberry vodkas and Jim Beam’s Red Stag line of flavoured bourbons, flavoured spirits show no signs of slowing down in 2014. Brands will continue to roll out more flavoured spirits and while consumers may tire of the more outrageous flavours, some experiments are predicted to catch on.

“Scotch-like” whiskies and vintage spirits


9: Global “Scotch-like” Whiskies

“Scotch-like” whiskies from Japan, India, Taiwan and New York have been attempting to rival the centuries-old favourite Scotch single malt whisky. And as these new spirits continue to receive high praise from their consumers, the selection is predicted to increase even more in the coming year.

10: Truly vintage spirits

In an attempt to create authentically accurate pre-Prohibition cocktails, bars and restaurants are now going the extra mile by stocking genuine vintage spirits that date back decades which have been purchased at auction from collectors. For a real “liquid history” experience pay a visit to Pouring Ribbons in New York, MilkWood in Louisville and Canon in Seattle.

Classic cocktails and overproof spirits


11: Simple, classic cocktails

This year will see a return in simple, classic cocktails. Both bartenders and consumers have grown tired of overly complicated drinks that take a long time to put together. So expect to go back to basics in 2014.

12: Overproof spirits

An increasing number of spirits are breaking the 40% abv barrier creeping up to 50%, 55% and even higher after mixologists discovered these high-octane spirits stand up extremely well in cocktails.

Sipping spirits, price hikes and bargains galore


13: Rum and Tequila: the “new” sipping spirits

For many years, spirits such as rum and Tequila have mostly been consumed unaged in well-known cocktails like mojitos and margaritas. But mature versions of these spirits are becoming ever-more popular and are being sipped and enjoyed the same as Cognac or Scotch whisky.

14: Price hikes and bargains galore

Cocktail and liquor prices have increased over the past few and are predicted to continue to do so, particularly in categories such as single malt Scotch, bourbon and rye whiskies where producers simply can’t keep up with the international demand. Nevertheless, consumers will still be able to find bargains in categories including vodka, gin and rum.

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