Craft cocktails are not just for bars anymore. The modern consumer is more knowledgable and adventurous when it comes to drinks. And that extends into cocktails, which leads many customers to experiment with mixology in their own homes.
With that in mind — and to educate staff for customers who come in curious about cocktails — here are major mixology and beverage trends taking place in 2016 in bars and restaurants.
We developed our annual preview of hot trends and predictions based on industry observations, bicoastal and international travel, discussions with market leaders, meetings with hotel and restaurant clients, trade conferences and media interactions. We also spent thousands of hours conducting research in hotels and restaurants around the country.
1. More Boozy Ice
Boozy ice cubes help keep your glass cold and your drink strong, and spiked popsicles are a fun adult indulgence. The Beyond Zero icemaker, a new innovation that freezes alcohol, is putting a cool spin on your favorite cocktail drinks, making it easy to turn them into delicious frozen treats.
Boozy Ice Pop Cocktails are big at Loopy Doopy, the rooftop bar at the Conrad Hotel in New York. They’re topped with prosecco and come in a variety of flavors, including Blueberry Peach, Strawberry Lemongrass and Empire Apple. Gracias Madre, a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, offers a Boozy Popsicle. The flavor rotates seasonally, ranging from blood orange and mezcal to tequila blanco with roasted pineapple and jalapeno.
2. Tropical Cocktails Remain Popular
Tropical cocktails are making their way back into the mainstream. Umbrella-decorated drinks are on the rise and are bringing a little more flair to the glass.
Restaurants are recreating some of the popular cocktail drinks from the original Tiki days and are putting a fresh and creative spin on them with high-quality ingredients and fresh-squeezed juices. You may just see that Tiki glass at your local watering hole.
Barbara Lynch’s No.9 Park, an upscale French and Italian restaurant in Boston, this past July offered a cocktail class on Potions of the Caribbean focusing on the history of Tiki, the use of tropical flavors and drink mixing.
The Well Bar and Grill in Kansas City introduced a new Tiki cocktail menu in July. The restaurant also started Tiki Tuesdays on its rooftop, which features live island music and gives guests the opportunity to enjoy one of the many handcrafted Tiki cocktails.
Fairweather in San Diego offers an entire menu of Tiki cocktails, from an artisanal Pina Colada to the various takes on the classic Mai Tai, which keeps the bar bustling with locals and visitors alike.
3. Watch Out For Kombucha
Restaurants and bars across the country are getting creative with kombucha juice. They’re incorporating the trendy fermented tea beverage into cocktails to create more botanical and fruitful alcoholic beverages and developing new twists, such as the Kombucharita.
Breweries are even getting in on the concept too, working alongside popular kombucha drink companies to introduce new beer blends to their consumers.
Crooked Stave in Denver always has at least one kombucha on tap. The house speciality is cranberry-lavender, which is blended with one of the brewery’s saison beers. Another option is mango kombucha on draft mixed with its Vieille Saison.
Guests at 83 Degrees in San Diego can choose straight-up kombucha or have it mixed into one of three cocktails. General manager Nick Wheeler incorporates Living Tea ginger kombucha into his take on a Moscow Mule, and The BU lavender kombucha into the restaurant’s Kombucha Breeze cocktail.