Here’s a look at the cocktail trends of the year


Story by Aaron Shuttleworth

From blended to bottled, fluoro to foraged, and Prohibition to punch bowls, cocktail trends are in a constant state of flux. The back bar has long ceased to be the only point of inspiration, as bartenders look to the kitchen and wider environment for new techniques and ingredients. With the trend towards Prohibition-kitsch having seemingly run its course in leading markets, the continuation of a ‘less is more’ approach has instilled itself as a permanent mantra.

Aperitif-style drinks are in vogue once again, with low ABV drinks bringing high quality to the glass. This Must Be The Place in Sydney has made a name for its refined take on the Spritz. Citron vodka, watermelon infused riesling, rosewater and strawberry shrub combine to add layers of complexity to the standard Pink Drink. A stone’s throw away, neighbourhood Italian diner Casoni has evolved the concept to its final form, putting Aperol Spritzes and Negroni’s on tap. Aperitif drinks are also a smart business proposition; with the lower ABV meaning proprietors can charge less whilst keeping punters coming back for more, for longer.

Tiki is here to stay, like it or lump it. Outrageously themed venues are giving way to more subtle representations and it’s having the desired effect. HoniHoni has long carried the Tiki Torch in Hong Kong and has been complemented by the recent opening of sister venue Mahalo. Halfway across the world in New York, monthly party Tiki Tuesdays continues to enjoy success with both the industry and general public alike. Featherweight in Brooklyn host’s regular tiki parties and even upmarket venues such as The NoMad are getting in on the act. The most exciting bar to ever open in Montreal, Le Mal Necessaire, is a tiki paradise. Experimentation with base spirits (Genever and Aquavit anyone?) and the introduction of modern techniques like shrubs, barrel ageing and fat washing is taking Tiki to new and exciting places.


The single most important trend over the last decade is that of locality. What started as the championing of seasonal ingredients has broadened to include locally distilled spirits, foraged plants and even oddities such as chopping boards made from local wood. The concept is enshrined in the global movement towards sustainability. Why would we import Mexican limes when there is a massive shortage? One Sydney bar, Palmer and Co, enforced a ‘lime prohibition’ instead using creativity to substitute various types of acid for lime and create a list that was innovative and award winning. Bulletin Place in Sydney and The Mulberry project in NYC have long championed a seasonal approach to their cocktails, changing their list daily. Even brands are getting in on the act, most noticeably Bruichladdich. Contrary to popular belief, Scotch Whisky does not need to be made from Scottish Barley, with most big name distilleries importing grain from Eastern Europe. Bruichladdich has introduced whiskies using both Scottish Barley and going even further to include Islay Barley expressions, reviving a previously extinct local industry.

Only a brave individual would have a go at predicting the next big trend in the global cocktail scene. The eradication of ice, a la White Lyan? Personal human genome decoding to tailor a cocktail specifically to you? While the next trend probably won’t be that extreme, it sure will be fun to see where we’re headed.

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