19 for ’19, Pt. II: Cocktail & Spirits Trend Survey

By Neat Pour Staff |

The new year is underway and it’s time for another installation of predictions for 2019. Neat Pour asked 19 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. Below is the second installation of our multipart series. (You can also check out Part I here.)

“For the year ahead I predict even more culinary techniques in drinks and the ingredients that go into them. As more bartenders have resources to do so and it’s becoming very more common to see. Savory cocktails are on the rise as well and I do see more of that happening in 2019.” Jillian Vosse — The Dead Rabbit

“Brandy bars! Soon, there will be a brandy bar on every block! I think people are moving beyond from industrial spirits and turning towards agricultural spirits. Plus, with the sustainability movement growing, there’s a renewed emphasis on spirits that have sense of place.” Nick Detrich — Manolito, Jewel of the South

“Distinct regional identities inside the wide crowded world of American spirits, like Empire Rye, American single malt, Minnesota gins, and of course, Tennessee whiskey.” Nicole Austin — General Manager and Distiller at Cascade Hollow Distilling Co.

“I am hoping that we, as professionals, can fine-tune the language we use to communicate descriptions of flavors to our guests and to each other. For instance, every bartender is tired of hearing guests ask for a drink that’s “not too sweet”, yet the amount of times i hear industry folk use the term “sweet” to describe liquids and foods is concerning. Let’s take wine, for example. Is it really sweet, or is it fruit forward with a dry finish? There’s a difference between “fruity” and “sweet”. And the next time you’re tempted to describe something as “funky”… Do you mean to say it’s an acquired taste? Or maybe, not for the uninitiated? Or is that barnyard funk? Musty cellar funk? P-Funk funked-up funk?? Be specific. Let’s improve our vocabulary so we can help our guests improve theirs.” ms. franky marshall — Modern Bartender/Educator

“People will continue to be invested in drinking better.   Better ingredients, well crafted spirits.   It’s pretty hard to close the door once Pandora’s box has been open.   However I foresee a continued desire for simplicity. The public has been craving simple 2 to 4 ingredient cocktails.  Be it a Spritz or Old Fashioned. Day drinking has returned to fashion. I predict that Low ABV Cocktails will continue to be the rage. Bartenders and consumers alike are thinking about enjoyment and responsibility.” Lynn House — National Brand Educator at Heaven Hill Distilleries

“I see more of a demand for interactive bartending from consumers. As cocktail enthusiasts have more and more access to information about the spirits and cocktails I think the rise of the home bartender is imminent. This should correlate with a continued emphasis on elevated service so the service industry can continue to stand out in an era of savvy patrons. It is my belief that consumer enthusiasm will serve as a boon for the industry as a whole.” Tristen Philippart de Foy — The Beehive

“N/A and low ABV drinks are both reportedly on the rise, as health and wellness become broader trends. While we haven’t really seen them pick up at Happiest Hour or Slowly Shirley, we remain proud to offer both as options at both bars. Also, I think alcohol alternatives, like CBD, utilized in the Salad Daze, at Tijuana Picnic, will continue to gain popularity and prevalence on menus. I also think cocktails that contain ingredients associated with health and wellness, like the Crimson & Clover, at Acme, are doing well right now, because they give guests a little bit of both a perceived healthy ingredient and the strong stuff.

I also believe interpersonal skills will continue to make their return to their rightful place, as a top priority and requirement, for bartenders. I think we will continue to see a trend toward well-rounded bartenders, who are as capable of reading and entertaining a crowd as they are of quickly building a round of well-executed cocktails, memorizing menus, cocktail recipes, and spirits.  Less experienced bartenders need to learn and understand that social skills, problem solving, speed, and efficiency are non-negotiable parts (and the majority of) the job.” Jim Kearns — Acme, Tijuana Picnic, Slowly Shirley, The Happiest Hour.

“Goldschlager. Yes, Goldschlager.” Sue — Bartender at NP’s local dive

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