Expect major ripples in the spirits industry this year… assuming, of course, that you haven’t already seen them. Yes, it’s like that moment in Jurassic Park where you can see puddle water quivering with the steps of a nearby Tyrannosaurus Rex – except that, well, the ripples I am about to focus on are actually exciting news. You might even soon see even more ripples – except, this time, in the liquid in cocktail glasses that you regularly pull away from your lips as you drink in sips.
If you were often downing tequila last year, you might have swapped it for rum in 2017. Earlier in the year, rum’s rise was predicted by a New York head bartender quoted by Vogue. That woman was called Anne Robinson and a worker at the rooftop bar Westlight at the Williamsburg-based William Vale hotel. She explained: “Rum just makes me think of sunshine and good vibes, which I think we’ll need a lot of in 2017.” Given recent world events, it’s difficult to disagree.
A Chicago bartender called Julia Momose observed to Vogue: “More and more bartenders are taking highball and diving into the two-ingredient combination to a deeper level by switching up the ingredients”. So, if you love highballs, you are in luck. Serious Eats recommends various “essential highballs” – including Paloma Brava, Cuba Libre, and Pimm’s Cup. Then there’s the classic gin and tonic, which drinking establishments could often easily make if they buy an ice maker.
Focus on alternatives to sugar
Sugar has often been blamed for rising instances of obesity; however, this much-marginalised ingredient won’t be entirely going away from the drinks world. This year will probably instead just see feverish debate about where it can or should be substituted in cocktails.
There are natural sweeteners, such as the plant-based stevia, available to drinks makers. However, The Spirits Business points out that, in some cases, “indulgence is too big an overriding cocktail-purchasing driver to abandon: the sugar rush is just too compelling.”
Emphasis on natural elements
Don’t be too surprised if, over the rest of 2017, cocktails you drink become more natural in taste and ingredients. Frankly, cocktails have become so experimental in composition that returning to more natural beverages could now feel like an unorthodox choice.
Recently, Pure Wild Spirits has introduced Freya, claimed to be the planet’s first spirit distilled from birch sap. However, the practice of integrating edible plants in cocktails could be taken up more widely. Drinking cocktails with these plants as ingredients could make you feel closer to nature.
More technology behind the bar
Recently emerging technological trends such as smartwatches and voice controls might not entirely pass the cocktail sector by in 2017. Practices as simple as looking at menus and placing orders could soon be revolutionised by technological advances. There is certainly a demand for this kind of progress, and there is a rich array of possibilities. Hence, bartenders could decide to change their routines, if not lead a backlash against this trend.