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Predicting the cocktail trends of 2024

From tasting serves and monogrammed ice cubes to RTDs in bars and a 90s revival, here’s what we think 2024 could have in store for cocktail culture.

We’ve predicted the trends to watch out for in the cocktail world in 2024
We’ve predicted the trends to watch out for in the cocktail world in 2024

Good things come in small packages

Tayēr + Elementary One Sip Martini cocktail

We’re all hoping for the cost-of-living crisis to end in 2024 but, realistically, consumers will continue to have less money in their pockets.

CGA by NIQ’s On-Premise Measurement Impact Report found spirits sales fell by 3.3% in the year to 9 September 2023 – but ultra-premium spirits grew by 3.5%.

So, people are drinking less but better – and one way that bars could cut prices while maintaining quality is to serve smaller cocktails.

London bar Tayēr + Elementary, in Old Street, Shoreditch, has been serving its One-Sip Martini (pictured) for years, priced at just £4 (US$5), while For The Record in San Francisco serves Cheekies – mini cocktails that are small enough to just fill your cheek, priced at US$9.

Elsewhere you can find a ‘Snaquiri’ (that’s a snack-sized Daiquiri), and we expect to see plenty more in 2024.

A Cosmopolitiny, a Minimosa, a Micro Mule, a Short Island Iced Tea… the options (and the puns) are endless.

Eat, drink and be merry

Earlswoods Moussaka cocktail Wacky Wombat©️ Julie Spicy.
Credit: Julie Spicy

The liqueur sector has conquered dessert cocktails – this year, Liviko launched Vana Tallinn Tiramisu Cream, while Licor 43 debuted a crème brûlée-inspired variant. But should cocktails start taking inspiration from main courses?

New York City’s Double Chicken Please describes its cocktail bar as a “culinary-driven experience”, with drinks inspired by cold pizza (featuring tomato, basil, and Parmesan, alongside blanco Tequila) and Waldorf salad (apple, celery, and walnut bitters meet Scotch whisky).

Savoury options have been popping up elsewhere too, such as at London bar Wacky Wombat, which opened in Soho, led by bartender Nico de Soto. Its Earlswood’s Moussaka (pictured) is a clarified concoction featuring olive oil-washed rum, red wine, tomato and aubergine. Meanwhile, Abricot bar in Paris offers a peanut butter and jelly sandwich-inspired cocktail, served with a mini sandwich on the side.

RTDs take over bars

Little Lines by Black Lines cocktail bar

The ready-to-drink (RTD) sector is taking over, with the category expected to reach US$21.1 billion in value by 2027, according to data from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

Canned cocktails and hard seltzers have allowed consumers to enjoy spirits outside of bars – but could the category make waves in the on-trade, too?

The same data discovered 39% of consumers bought RTDs in the channel in 2023, up from 35% a year ago.

This year, bottled cocktail brand Black Lines opened its first bar (pictured) in a clothes shop in London with a mission to ‘defy age-old conventions that cocktails should be handcrafted in front of the drinker’, while BrewDog launched its range of RTD cocktails in its UK pubs.

But it’s not just venues without cocktail bartenders getting in on the act – London’s newly opened Dram bar in Denmark Street has an RTD cocktail vending machine in its pool room.

Ice, ice, baby

ice with flowers in it

Ice has always been of great importance to bars and bartenders, but consumers are starting to take more of an interest.

Open TikTok and you’ll discover plenty of influencers restocking their freezers with different shapes and flavours of ice – #icetok has 1.7 billion views.

But what does this mean for the on-trade? Consumers will no longer be impressed by a simple extra-large ice cube, so bars will have to get creative if they want to stand out.

Disco Cubes is a business based in Los Angeles that creates handmade ice cubes featuring flowers or fruit suspended perfectly in the centre of each cube – a task that is harder than you’d imagine.

Another (easier) option is stamped ice – The Monarch bar in Kansas City stamps its butterfly logo onto cubes, meaning its drinks are instantly recognisable when posted on Instagram. Simply buy a monogrammed stamp and get branding your ice – the results are super cool.

The 90s are back

Grind Hot Flat White Russian

Nineties and 2000s fashion has been back for a while, and it’ll be no surprise if drinks from those two decades make a comeback, too. Sex and the City revival TV series And Just Like That… has been making a splash, so we could see a return of the Cosmopolitan – although bartenders should take note of continued interest in bitter flavours, like the Negroni, and steer clear of super-sweet cranberry juice. New York City’s Dante bar offers three riffs on a cranberry cocktail: the Cosmotini, which features Absolut Citron, triple sec, and vermouth; the Cosmo Spritz, which adds rosé Prosecco and Lillet Rosé; and the Cosmojito, which feature Grey Goose L’Orange, Cointreau, and mint.

And, following the Espresso Martini boom, could ‘90s favourite the White Russian make a return? London coffee brand Grind serves a Hot Flat White Russian (pictured), using its own espresso, vodka, Tia Maria, and oat milk – the latter a distinctively 2020s addition.

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