As wiggle out of the grip that negroni sbagliatos had on us, what trend is next? I reached out to some of the country’s top bartenders to see what they’re drinking in 2023. From rum (and rum and more rum) to interactive drinks, these may be the top drink trends of this year.
Putting On A Show
“People love to drink with their eyes first,” says Jason Asher, vice president of beverage, Grey Hen Rx, UnderTow and Platform 18 in Phoenix. “Food has always had the platform to show elevated plating techniques and that’s finally moving into the cocktail world. Drinkers are expecting avant-garde presentations and interactive elements that swoop them into the moment with every sip.”
Mark Tubridy, the bar manager of The Baccarat Hotel New York credits Netflix’s
Regan DeBenedetto, Spuntino Wine Bar’s Director of Operations, also credits social media for the highly Instagrammable presentations. “With the continued popularity of sharing cocktails on social media, we are seeing specialty glassware, decanters and unique garnishes making a splash.” She’s expecting everything from flaming drinks and cocktail trees to exotic fruit and chefs coming out of the kitchen to work with bartenders.
Drink Your Greens
“I’m a huge fan of using vegetables (e.g. juice, infusions or ferments) in cocktails,” says Pip Hanson, the food and beverage director of Keeper’s Heart Whiskey. “Radicchio, celery, squash, and other ingredients typically associated with the savory side of a menu can [be used in] fantastic cocktails that showcase those flavors in new ways. Vegetables also open the door to drier and more savory cocktails.”
“I’m expecting a massive increase in the use of unique syrups and bitters to spice up any cocktail or mocktail,” says Samara B. Davis, Founder of Black Bourbon Society. “Everything from sweet potato simple syrup (Cane Collective) to gumbo bitters (El Guapo Bitters) are starting to appear on shelves. Unique syrups can also be created at home with simple fresh ingredients for those that are searching for a creative DIY project to make cocktails.”
Ryan Sabor, a mixologist at The Quion in Delaware, thinks this year is the year that old is new. “While the classics will always have a place, there’s a needed sense of nostalgia and a yearning for less complicated times.” He’s seeing bartenders taking the classics and making their own interpretations of them. “Mezcal old-fashioned and gin margaritas and negroni sbagliatos are becoming commonplace, and there is more emphasis on flavors as opposed to classic recipes.”
Batched Beverages (And Maybe Bar Guns)
Phoenix-based Asher also predicts the rise of batched (pre-mixed cocktails for speedier pouring) cocktails. “Batching allows for volume-oriented and or multi-locations groups to implement a fresh cocktail program, yielding a high revenue and consistency from the first to the last cocktail. I recently sat through a presentation that utilized a fresh sour [lemon juice, lime juice, etc] on a bar gun that was calibrated to exact sour specifications of the bar.” Inventions like these would not only allow for easier batched cocktails, but cocktails served in a gun. “I would imagine cocktails would follow the same path and eventually end up on a bar gun!”
“We’re starting to see more great winemakers create delicious and balanced vermouth that can be a game changer in cocktails!” says Kevin King, the general manager of Minero Mexican Grill & Cantina in Charleston. In France, Frederic Brouca’s vermouth is floral, fresh, and full of depth. Wild Arc makes fun and fresh vermouths out of the Hudson Valley, and Matthiasson and Massican, both notable California wineries, make their own vermouths, including rouge vermouth to dash in a Martinez to a floral white vermouth for Martinis.
“People can’t get enough of tequila these days,” says Brittany Park, bar manager of Brasserie la Banque and: Bar Vauté in Charleston. “I think we’ll continue to see tequila grow.”
A recent report by CGA by NielsenIQ found that in the premium category, tequila sales are outpacing higher-end brown spirits, as American drinkers start sipping aged tequilas.
Tubridy agrees, but he’s excited to see lesser-known agave categories come to the forefront. “I believe our fascination with artisanal agave-based spirits is still growing and while tequila and mezcal will surely continue to take center stage, perhaps some of their lesser-known cousins such as sotol, raicilla and avila may begin to share the spotlight on drink menus and beverage lists in the new year.”
And a Bottle of Rum
“I think that Rum is still gaining momentum from a category perspective,” Asher finds. “The American whiskey boom has certainly fueled the age spirits category and with rum still being affordable, it makes sense that whiskey drinkers are sipping those wonderful and delicately aged rums from around the world.”
Drizly noted this year will be rum’s big year — in a recent survey, the delivery platform found that one-third of respondents said they were more likely to spend money on rum over bourbon. According to the IWSR, the global rum market was worth $15 billion in 2021, and it is determined to reach a valuation of USD 21.5 billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 5.5%.
“I would like to see more love for warm cocktails in 2023,” says Scott Taylor, Beverage Director at Harris’ Restaurant in San Francisco. “We’ve long been stuck in the mindset that mixed drinks need to be cold. We have a multitude of different types of ice to change the temperature and dilution and I wonder what we could create if we applied more innovation to hot beverages. Warm drinks may have had their heyday in the mid-1800’s century, but I would love to see us experiment with temperature as much as we do with ingredients.”