Over the last 20 years, the cocktail industry has evolved to a form which should be taken seriously. Cocktail bars are serving well-crafted cocktails using good quality spirits, fresh ingredients, modern techniques and innovated cocktail recipes. This is a golden age of bartender creativity or some people might say a cocktail renaissance.
Is it really what it seems like?
Here’s the continuing trend from the past couple of years according to the Google Trends.
Craft cocktails seem to take over the whole cocktail scene. There is just one problem…
No one seems to have told the average drinker.
The most searched Cocktails 2016 in the US
3. Strawberry Daiquiri
4. Sex on the Beach
6. Old Fashioned
7. Hot toddy
8. Rusty Nail
10. White Russian
You’ve probably noticed Sangria on the first spot! And wondering what is Sex on the Beach doing in the top 10? But If you look closely you will realise that all of these cocktails have one thing in common. There are simple to make cocktails with fewer ingredients.
That reveals what we’re really thirsty for when no one else is looking (except for Google of course).
And if you dig a little deeper, you will find out that it’s not an accident. The most associated words with the word cocktail are the phrases: cocktail recipes, simply to make cocktails, or easy to make cocktails at home.
It seems that on the one hand, people love going to high-end cocktail bars. But on the other hand, for the average person, it’s either too intimidating to try to recreate craft cocktails at home or too disappointing when they do.
To get it right you need to consider recipe, ingredients, shopping, preparation, and presentation.
Even if you do get the cocktail recipe right, all the cocktail ingredients and equipment are sold separately-spirits, mixers, garnishes, glasses, shakers, strainers etc. and it’s up to you to take all of those ingredients and put them together to make a great cocktail.
I can totally relate to this.
Future of socialising
Diageo the world’s largest producer of spirits has released a report: the future of socialising which includes 3 trends that will dominate in the future.
Trend #1. Exceptional becomes the rule – People will expect a desirable experience, a surprise effect and sensory delight with their drinks when they’re out. It will increase a pressure on bartenders and bars to adapt technology with more of a focus on creating engaging and personal consumer experiences
Trend #2. In with the ‘in’ crowd – We’ll see the home become a place to create extraordinary experiences for friends and family. Digital technology will play the massive role and make it easier for the consumer to entertain stylishly.
Trend #3. Optimise not compromise – With more tools than ever to understand what we consume and how we exercise, we will increasingly be able to optimise our social lives without compromising on excitement and experience. Clear nutritional and calorie information on the packaging makes it easier to manage our diets.
When it comes to cocktails people are often afraid of high-calorie content and sugar is definitely the biggest threat. The debate around sugar and cocktails should not be about avoiding it, but whether there are available any natural substitutions helping to create a well-balanced cocktail.
Some of the alternatives to sugar are plant-based sweeteners such as Stevia, a 100% natural, zero calorie sweetener with a number of health benefits that have been confirmed in human studies.
The common misconception is that distilled spirits have their sugar levels equal zero(yeast turns sugar into alcohol), but the true is that many producers add sugar back to the distilled spirit to sweeten it up. The certain alternative to sugar in spirits could be sweet botanicals such as liquorice which is used often as the ingredient in gin.
When it comes to sugar in your drink, the mixer is not the only one you should be aware of, distilled spirit. liqueur, vermouth/amari all contain a certain amount of sugar.
Comparison of common cocktail ingredients with the level of sweetness as shown in the graph below.
Some people claim that Low-ABV cocktails are a surprising new trend that includes drinks based on fortified wines such as sherry, vermouth, or lower-proof spirits. But some producers have taken the step even further, Seedlip the world’s first non-alcoholic spirit which is made from botanicals and it’s sugar-free, with no calories and no artificial flavours.
Future Cocktail trends
Another report created by The Future Laboratory, the collaboration between World Class and Diageo to inspire the world to drink better.
Trend #1 Controversy cocktails
It’s all about creativity and independence for bartenders to create cocktails that won’t please all of the people all of the time. The same way as you wouldn’t suggest a professional chef make a dish slightly sweeter, bartenders will make a drink the way they like which means going against the traditional rules and adopting unconventional approaches. Creating the environment that differentiates and make consumers feel challenged can bring positive results.
It will work as long as there is certain quality in the establishment and the product that can be delivered the same every time.
Trend #2. Emotional cocktails
Evoking emotions and bringing on nostalgia with the senses of sight and smell which can be done with cocktail ingredients, names, garnishes or by using modern technology. Tapping into the consumer’s emotions will have the positive impact and keep them coming back.
Trend #3 Fluid identity patrons
Cultural theme bars and cocktails will enable patrons to learn about a different culture without physically travelling to another country. All drinks will be assessed as a neutral and without a spirit gender. It means all traditional identifiers will be removed.
Trend #4 Shift in the cocktail industry
The role of the bartender is evolving and bartending practices are changing.
1. Cocktail Dispersion – In the past five years, consumption of spirits has risen by 26% in Africa and the Middle East, by 15% across Asia and by 22% in China alone, according to Euromonitor.
2. The modern bartender – Firstly, bartending is no longer a job for students to make some quick money to fund their hobby but It has evolved into a job with real and exciting career prospects.
Why there will be no such a thing as a Craft
So, what does actually mean the craft cocktail?
- Do fresh, hand-made and non-artificial ingredients make a craft cocktail?
- Does it make a craft if you’ve spent some time and care to create a product?
- Does it involve a skill and that everything has to be made by hand?
There is no definite answer to this question, but in theory, you could have spent weeks preparing the cocktail with the greatest care and the freshest, hand-made ingredients. And yet your cocktail can be awful!
Craft is often described by cocktail experts as the work that you do long before creating the actual cocktail, it’s the art of making homemade syrups, freshly squeezed juices, tinctures and bitters.
In theory, it can be anything you want as long as it leads you towards a delicious cocktail because, in the end, that’s why we go through all the practices mentioned above.
You can make this process hard and painful or you can make this efficient and thoughtful.
The choice is yours.
Let me know in the comments below what’s your opinion about the future of cocktails and will the craft cocktails fit in?