4. Mocktails Are No Joke
Mocktail offerings are popping up all over U.S. food cities from San Francisco to New York. They target consumers watching their diets, designated drivers, pregnant women and even “foodie” children.
Some chefs have experimented with pairing an entire meal with mocktails. This gives them a unique opportunity to blend ingredients that complement the food without the overpowering strength of alcohol–or the cost.
One example is Vincenzo Marianella’s new restaurant Love & Salt in Manhattan Beach, CA, which offers three different mocktails made from ingredients such as sage, almond syrup, jalapeno and seedless white grapes.
Atera Restaurant in New York launched a temperance pairing menu this past May, creating mocktails inspired by classic cocktails. The Cote de Beet mocktail, for one, combines black currants and beets that have been aged in hopes of matching the taste of the rich red wine.
5. Hard Soda Are Hot
Bubbles mania expands from Champagne and sparkling wine to fizzy water and fancy, house-made sodas. Restaurants and breweries have embraced this new preference by introducing their own house-made sodas, while producers are creating their own alcoholic and non-alcoholic brews by infusing them with ginger and other botanical flavors.
For instance, the LeCroix sparkling water brand incudes pamplemousse, peach-pear and coconut flavors, while Dry Sparkling has lemongrass- and cucumber-flavored waters. An influx of craft ginger beer producers are popping up as well, including Matsos Broome Brewery and Rachel’s Ginger Brew out of the Pacific Northwest.
And while the original “alcopop” Zima may have been discontinued in 2008, products such as Not Your Father’s Root Beer from Small Town Brewery in Wisconsin, and the Orange or Ginger flavors from Henry’s Hard Soda are on the rise.
6. Nitro Coffee Cocktails
The popular morning drink continues to evolve with the popularity of nitro-coffee. Coffee shops and restaurants alike are expanding on the trend, incorporating coffee into alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic coffee beverages by infusing new techniques and flavors to create balanced and “treatful” coffee drinks.
Saint Frank in San Francisco offers a Kaffe Tonic, an infusion of tonic water and fresh espresso, as a refreshing way to enjoy coffee.
Coffee Bar, also in San Francisco, blends ice, cinnamon and vanilla-infused, cold-brew coffee topped with milk for a beverage that combines the bitterness of coffee with the sweetness of Mexican drink horchata.
And St. George Spirits in 2014 introduced a NOLA liqueur made with rich Ethiopian coffee and infused with Madagascar vanilla, chicory root, and natural cane sugar.
7. Gin Gains More Ground
Proper Martinis and Gin and Tonics will never go out of style, but bartenders are putting a creative spin on the old-school drinks with barrel-aged gins on the rise. Aged in whiskey, brandy or rum barrels, these gins are infused with tastes of botanicals and sweetened with hints of vanilla, maple and brown sugar.
They’re easy to sip and the perfect complement in any number of cocktails.
A number of aged gins have hit the market recently. For instance, Citadelle Gin Reserve, a new addition to the Citadelle French Gin collection, sits in oak barrels for several months, giving it a hint of vanilla flavor before being bottled and sold.
Made with a mix of juniper berries, coriander and fennel, Death’s Door gin from Washington Island, WI, has a subtle botanical influence that allows it to stand on its own or be paired with other ingredients.
Starting off as brandy, Bummer & Lazarus gin from San Francisco-based Raff Distillerie is redistilled and infused with the flavors of juniper berries, orris root, coriander seeds, angelica root, bitter orange peel, lemon peel, cinnamon bark and licorice root.
Beehive Barrel Reserve Gin in Salt Lake City, UT, distills its strong botanical gin in hand-charred French oak barrels. The flavor profile is smoke, oak and vanilla.
And British gin brand Booth’s, which dates back to the 1740s, has just been revived. Booth’s Finest Dry Gin is gently mellowed in sherry casks, which softens the juniper notes and gives the liquid a unique and characteristic golden hue.