Were these the biggest cocktail trends of 2014?By Amy Hopkins
This year, the international bar scene has been bigger, brighter and more innovative than ever before – we take a look to see if any of our predicted trends for 2014 came true.
Bartenders the world-over pushed up their levels of creativity and style in 2014, when standards in bartending were higher than ever before.
It’s always tricky to slate which trends will take off in the bartending world, were sky-high levels of creativity and experimentation mean the industry is in a constant state of flux.
But at the beginning of the year, we asked some of the best bartending brains in the business to place their bets on which trends they thought would take off in 2014.
Click through the following pages to see if their predictions were right.
High quality customer service has certainly been an on-going trend in the bar world in 2014, as consumers continue to “drink less but better”.
Nathan Merriman, bar manager, Big Easy, London: “Bartenders are slowly realising that the guest experience is just as important, if not more important, then the drinks they are serving. So I predict that there will be a return to basics and a much greater focus on customer service.”
While the Irish whiskey industry truly exploded in 2014, with higher levels of investment than ever before, the spirits has yet to embed itself as a staple cocktail spirit in the on-trade. However, the Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog continue to champion its place in the bar and cocktail world with their innovative menu.
Jack McGarry, head bartender, The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, New York: “The biggest thing I’m seeing right now and can see continuing throughout the year is the explosion of Irish whiskey. The Irish Whiskey category is the fastest growing sector in the industry. However, having opened The Dead Rabbit we can see that most drinkers will choose Jameson Original Irish Whiskey, which doesn’t really illustrate the beauty of Irish whiskey. We want to show how Irish whiskey can be utilised in a world class beverage program.
“Our new menu is going to be groundbreaking and our whole intention is to address this. We are dedicating over half of our new menu to Irish whiskey cocktails and pushing consumer’s interpretations of how Irish whiskey can be used – it’s an extremely versatile spirit.
“You also have Middleton undergoing a massive expansion. Redbreast 21 Year Old and Green Spot Irish Whiskey are the next in the pipeline. Tullamore Dew is building its own distillery as are Dingle Irish Whiskey and we have also heard of a couple of other distilleries in the pipeline. Its a really exciting time for Irish whiskey.”
Bottled cocktails have really exploded onto the international bar scene in 2014, pioneered by London-based mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana and his range of Mr Lyan bottled serves. The trend is also predicted to go even further in 2015.
Tom Aske, co-founder, Fluid Movement: “This year I see a trend of house bottled and marketed products, including homemade, bottled ingredients. In turn, I also predict last year’s trend for theatricality will slow in favour of complex drinks with a simple but beautiful presentation.”
There has been an influx of cool, high-end Tequila and mezcal bars in recent months, meaning Imants Zusmanis’ prediction that high quality Tequila would be a trend to watch in the world of cocktails carried some weight.
Imants Zusmanis, former bar manager, Kensington Palace Restaurant and Fish Shop, London: “My personal hope is that it will be year of Tequila. Good quality aged Tequila. I believe that this spirit is rarely used in all its beauty. There are amazing flavours to be discovered, and I think good Tequilas have to be sipped in the same way as good whisky or Cognac. We just need to put aside our terrible memories from late nights out shooting low quality, cheap Tequila and waking up with terrible hangover.”
The Spanish gin and tonic doesn’t seem to have really taken off outside of Spain, but may be one to watch in 2015.
James Connolly, head bartender, Enrique’s School For Bullfighting, Perth: “I think the Spanish gin and tonic thing is really going to take off outside of Spain. We serve this style at Enrique’s and it’s amazingly popular. Also, I see that more bars specialising in Sherries and vermouths will start to appear too.”
Savoury cocktails have been big news in high-end bars the world over, with experimental establishments such as 69 Colebrook Row and Bunga Bunga creating ever innovative serves which fuse the worlds of food and drink.
Rentato De Benedicts, bar manager, Bunga Bunga, London: “These days, mixologists have become so adventurous when creating new cocktails, that it is no longer enough just to put a spin on a classic cocktail. What I think will be the next step, however, is to put a spin on classic and popular meals.
“More and more bartenders are focusing on sourcing fresh ingredients and finding well balanced flavours with drinks becoming increasingly similar to desserts and or actual foods. A couple of months ago a pizza-favoured cocktail was even created in the US, using a selection of the ingredients and flavours of an actual pizza but served as a liquid. It tastes like a pizza, but is carb free – what a great idea.
“This got us thinking here at Bunga Bunga and come January we will be launching a whole menu dedicated to pizza cocktails.”
Some bars such as London Cocktail Club and London’s famed Artesian have created deconstructed cocktails on their menus, allowing customers to dabble in mixology. While the trend is currently limited to a small number of venues, it may be set to catch on as consumer interest in drinks creation continues.
JJ Goodman, founder, London Cocktail Club, London: “This year is gearing-up to be amazing for The London Cocktail Club and other bars alike. For us, it’s all about interactive serves for customers. We have created an amazing interactive serve that comes in a flat pack box with instructions inside of how to make the the drink – lots of fun!”
Classic cocktails reinvented with a modern twist was one of the most pervasive cocktail trends of 2014, and is expected to continue well into 2015.
Francisco Santos, Rivoli Bar & Lounge manager, The Ritz, London: “In our view at the Rivoli, the trends taking off in the UK revolve around consumers rediscovering the classic cocktail, but with a more modernised approach to them – they will be made with new techniques and methods taking them to a completely new level.
“Guests these days are more demanding about what they drink and are also more educated, this changes the game completely. Cocktails need to be unique to each venue, with bespoke serves covering all senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Drinks need to be more interactive and, as bartenders, we need to create experiences for the guest rather then just serving them a drink.”