The year is nearly over which means it’s time to look at 2017’s trends and make some predictions about what’s coming in 2018. We asked 18 experts in spirits and hospitality about what trends they’ve seen over the past year and those that they predict are coming in the year ahead.
“Years ago, only a few places had great drinks because only a few people knew how to set up a bar and train everyone to enthusiastically serve great drinks. Those days are over. So the goal must shift from the drinks themselves to the environment you serve them in and the people themselves. We went from bartenders to mixologists and now we must return to the brass tacks of tending bar, which is really just tending people.” Jim Meehan — PDT, Prairie School, Mixography
“Gin Liqueurs, like this Rhubarb & Ginger Liqueur from Edinburgh Gin, have been big in the UK for the last few years. They’re finally making their way to the States now where, I think, their popularity will only grow.” Ria Soler — Chartreuse
“The biggest trend that I see is a refocus back on hotel bars and the creation of fun in hospitality. Between hotel brands sweeping up serious talent for ‘property mixologist’ roles; big F&B program pushes; and increased value in events (banquets and catering), hotels are truly trying to step it up more than I’ve ever seen before.” Danny Ronen — Liquid Kitchen, DC Spirits, Academia, USBG Foundation
“I’ve noticed that people are drinking more in general. This trend started after the election and I predict it will continue until impeachment proceedings begin.” Jeff “Beachbum” Berry — Latitude 29, Tiki Writer
“The direction of craft cocktails will start to be set more by innovative restaurants. Fine Dining establishments with complex wine and craft cocktail programs will take the mantle from standalone cocktail bars. As a result, culinary friendly products like Rancio Sec will start to get more visibility. Also, multiple bitters will be stacked in cocktails in the same way that dishes are seasoned with layers of different herbs and spices.” Avery Glasser — Bittermens Bitters
“I believe that the hospitality industry will start to see that the performance of being gracious humans while inflicting abuse is no longer acceptable despite intention. That leaders and gatekeepers of our community will no longer be able to slide by with eloquently written apologies, but no action. 2018 is the year of accountability to ourselves, peers, employees and community. It is also the year to teach, learn and forgive others and ourselves for our past and what will certainly be future mistakes. Your hospitality will be rooted in your humanity in 2018.” Ashtin Berry — Beverage Consultant, Activist
“More attention was paid to vodka cocktails over the last year . The shift is a microcosm of a larger trend; bartenders looking beyond themselves and once again placing the customer first.” Nick Detrich — Cane & Table, Drinks Consultant
” think people are starting to pay a lot more attention the aesthetics of a cocktail; it’s important to have them look good–we taste with our eyes first! Now in the age of instagraming every dish we eat and cocktail we drink, it’s doubly as important to make our drinks look as good as they taste. Hopefully though, we won’t have a wolf in sheep’s clothing with bad tasting/bad ingredient cocktails that simply look good.” Ivy Mix — Leyenda, Speedrack
“A proliferation of socially conscious bars, restaurants, and events. People care more and more about making an impact on society on an everyday basis; so, logic predicts that the hospitality landscape will follow suit and become more and more socially engaged. For years, bartenders and chefs have donated their time to causes they love, but Coup in NYC was a great example of what’s to come as people start to set up businesses designed to raise money for specific causes.” Neal Bodenheimer — CureCo.
“I think one thing you’ll continue to see is more and better cocktails at chain and casual dining restaurants…not all of which will succeed.” Jake Parrott — Haus Alpenz
“I find bartenders are letting the spirits talk and then having their own voice with their neighborhood rather than looking for awards; therefore, winning awards. Big cities will always have the cash to spend and create trends or inspire the growing cities… But it’s simplicity that is the biggest trend I see is the bartenders in every city in America. Inspiring their customers to engage in something different; bartenders having careers, and a burgeoning industry that is growing and melding together.” Brent Falco — Fratelli Branca
“I’ve noticed two major trend over the past year that I think are going to keep going strong in 2018 (1) Industry professionals taking their health seriously. It’s something that really picked up this year, I believe, and it’s just going to gain more momentum in 2018. Brands getting behind bartenders and encouraging them to take care of their health, both physical and mental, is definitely something that’s starting to grow now. The St. Germain team is a group I’ve noticed that has really pushed industry health in 2017. (2) Whiskey forward classic cocktails. More often in the past six months behind the bar I’ve had more calls for Old Fashioneds than I’ve ever had before. I think that people are going to stick on this spirit forward cocktail train and start exploring more classics like the Manhattan and it’s variations, Negronis, Boulevardiers, etc. in much larger numbers than before.” Alex Jump — Mercantile, RiNo Yacht Club, Belle Meade Bourbon
“One thing I think that we saw across the board is an effort to not be such assholes to planet earth: straws on request, mindful re-use and/or disposal of ice & water, utilizing all parts of an ingredient, etc. It’s the least we can do to help mitigate a small percentage of the waste we generate as a business. Hopefully this is less of a trend than it is a paradigm shift; although, I look forward to the inevitable innovation that will come as we attempt to make use of ingredients we might have considered trash in the past.” Devon Tarby — Proprietors LLC
“American Single Malt is going to become a much bigger player in the whiskey scene in the coming year. With the scarcity and climbing prices of bourbon, whiskey lovers are seeking new delicious things to drink. I’m a little biased, but I do think that Westward American Single Malt, produced in Portland, OR by House Spirits Distillery, is one prime example of a beautifully made whiskey.” Erin Hayes — House Spirits
“I predict we will see continued fallout from men who have historically sexually harassed women in the hospitality industry. and their comeuppance will come in the form of competent women replacing them.” Jackie Summers — Writer. Autodidact. Polymath. Entrepreneur.
“Fireball is done and people are back to shooting Jameson.” Sue — Bartender at NP’s local bar