6 Fresh Cocktail Trends for 2020 (And 3 That Are Definitely Done)
Lay These Three Trends to Rest in 2019
First things first. Before we get into the cocktail trends that are sweeping 2020 (many of which are layovers from last year) let’s start with what’s out. Last year was a great year for spirits in many ways, and we all had fun with our Aperol Spritzes, but there are a few cocktail trends that simply must be left behind in 2019. Like these three.
Forget the cocktails loaded with olives, celery and pickles in bunches so big it looks like a farmer’s market haul. And forget the marshmallows piled on top of mini donuts topped with a swirl of cotton candy, all precariously balanced on a striped paper straw. In 2020 the drinks, ice and vessel are going to do the talking while the ridiculous garnishes pipe down.
A Puff of Smoke
This one has a disclaimer on it: leave it to the professionals. There’s a certain appeal to a smoky cocktail, to be sure, but it can come off as gimmicky, and 2020 is not the year for gimmicks with every brand and its mother attempting their version of ‘authenticity’. So if you’re not sure how to do smoke right and can’t justify the hype, this trend might not be for you.
PS: Smoke can actually degrade the quality of the cocktail, and that isn’t something anyone wants.
Too Fancy Descriptions
Look, a cocktail menu isn’t a high school essay. There’s really no excuse for saying ‘shards from a thrice-frozen cube of mineral water’ when you could just say ‘ice’. Keep it simple in everything from your ingredients and recipes all the way down to your descriptions or risk some serious eyerolls.
These Cocktail Trends Are Alive and Kicking in 2020
You won’t find any big surprises or out-of-left field newcomers on this list. Rather, 2020 will be the year for big and small players alike to up their sustainability game and strike that elusive balance between simple and sophisticated.
After a few years of the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach, consumers are increasingly taking it back to basic. In 2020 – patrons, particularly Millennials and Gen Zs of drinking age, will be ordering cocktails that have only a small handful of ingredients but that have focused flavour profiles that allow those few ingredients to sing. This minimalist approach puts an emphasis on the quality of spirits and other ingredients, so to ensure an excellent customer experience, don’t try to skimp.
You can’t spend long talking about cocktail trends without Instagram’s influence coming up, regardless of how simple and sustainable preferences may be running these days. Anyone in the bartending game looking to keep things simple while still capitalizing on the millennial desire for Instagrammable experiences can rely on beverage-top media to provide that snap-worthy visual appeal (not to mention social media marketing). Gorgeous classics like Negronis and Manhattans in sophisticated glassware will also feature heavily across social media hashtags in this year of minimalist awesomeness.
If there’s one area where things might get a little complex and younger drinkers will be fully accepting, it’s sustainability. Bartenders and spirit brands will be working to find inventive ways to use every component of an ingredient in order to avoid waste. Think used coffee grinds infusing liqueurs, carrot tops as garnishes, and aquafaba for frothiness. This might just be the very best kind of spirits innovation.
Millennials are focused on their health and wellbeing, and many aren’t even willing to compromise on that commitment when they’re out drinking. Low-sugar, low-calorie and low-carb beverages are what you’ll want on the menu when these lifestyle-oriented drinkers come calling.
Low or No
Whether it’s because of the health consciousness mentioned above, the fear of being seen out of control on social media, the steady legalization of marijuana, or simple booze fatigue, Millennials are drinking less alcohol. However, that doesn’t mean they’re eschewing well-crafted drinks. Both on the town and in the home, low- or no-alcohol cocktails will be on the rise in 2020. Oh, and bonus tip for all: stop saying mocktails.
Gin has had a good few years in the sun as a spirit of choice, but the growing preference for simple, high-quality ingredients, is giving ultra-premium rums take their turn at the top. Look for a return to classic rum cocktails like mai tais, mojitos and dark and stormies.
Leverage those beverages for your customers