The recent Tales of the Cocktail event in New Orleans, touted as “The Most Spirited Event of the Summer”, brought together some of the nation’s top mixologists to talk beverage shop. Seminars, competitions, dinners, and tastings were included in the week long event. But more importantly, these drink masters discussed the latest in mixers and spirits. From bacon vodka to absinthe, fruit juice to herbs, what’s the hottest trend in bar drinks these days?
According to panel discussions at the NOLA drink gathering, it’s surprisingly gin. It seems the clear spirit, flavored with juniper berries, is making a comeback. In an article from Nation’s Restaurant News, other top alcohols include tequila, mescal, cachaca, rum and rye. With a nod to the Brat Pack era, bartenders are heading the change, mixing gin and other spirits with more signature flavors.
Panelist Kathy Casey, owner of Seattle’s Kathy Casey Food Studios and Liquid Kitchen, believes the current trends will equate to a new demographic experiencing old school staples.
Food and beverage trends usually always start with the industry – from higher end restaurants and bars and chefs and mixologists. The trends then cycle down to the multi unit operators and then to the consumer. I think that mixologists certainly have a huge influence in consumer consumption and getting people excited about trying new things. If someone says hey you have to try this new cocktail or this new spirit and is very passionate about it that comes off to the consumer – they will want to order it! And then they want to make it at home.
My top 3 are gin, rye and tequila in that order. I think that gin is making a huge comeback with the renewed interest by bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts in golden era cocktails. Especially in regards to gin and rye. There is also a big push to get women and younger drinkers to try brown spirits such as rye. (ri)1 has done a great job at attracting this market – softer on the palate and sleek modern packaging.