Cocktail Trend Predictions for 2018 by Brand Ambassadors

Following from the Top 10 Cocktail Trends 2017 and Best and Worst Cocktail Trends 2017 According to Bartenders, in the third and final part of our cocktail trends 2017 series, we asked Brand Ambassadors from Australia to share their cocktail trend predictions for 2018.

Cocktail Trend Predictions for 2018 by Brand Ambassadors

Cocktail Trend Predictions for 2018 by Brand Ambassadors:

Rachel Macdonald – Brand Specialist, Les Nouveaux Distillers, Pernod Ricard Australia

“In a world with a growing distance from nature in our cities, consumers are valuing authentic experiences when they go out and they will continue to do so in 2018. What does this mean for brands? I think it will be imperative that alcohol brands are authentic from their core. People are increasingly willing to pay more for authentic brands – with heritage, providence and integrity at their heart.

I can see sustainability practices becoming commonplace across our favourite bars and translating to the end consumer, who will desire and expect bars to be environmentally conscious. I think consumers will seek authentic experiences from bars – being more efficient with their waste and as a by product of that, being creative with their ingredients and seeking local where they can.”

Matteo Fabbris – Spirits Platform Brand Ambassador

“In the past couple of years, we have seen gin exploding and while I expect it to remain strong, we will likely see it flattening slowly. At the beginning of last year we also saw amaro and sherry on the rise. While awareness has definitely grown, we haven’t really seen the push into cocktail menus and back bars that I expected, so this year might be a good one!

Moreover, I expect the focus for bartenders will shift more and more towards the fresh ingredients with locality, genuinely and traceability on the very front line. By carefully choosing between the different nuances of fresh ingredients then the matching spirit will have an even more important role to play as co-star.

Overall, I think we are heading more and more towards a market situation where big drinking trends manage to co-exist because the consumer base is expanding more than ever. This is fantastic news for Australia, which has finally seen a fantastic selection of brands having a shot at establishing themselves in the country making the bar world more exciting than ever!”

Simon McGoram – Diageo Whisky Ambassador, Australia

“I’m really excited to see venues start to utilise more cold brew coffee in cocktails. Without the use of heat cold brew has a clean, fruity and floral flavour without bitterness that allows the base spirit to shine through. A great way to try this is with Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Espresso Roast, cold brew and just a dash of coconut sugar syrup. The roasted grains, dark chocolate and dark fruit character of this innovative blend really shine through with the coconut sugar bringing the sweetness of first fill bourbon casks to the fore.

Cold brew isn’t just useful as a cocktail ingredient but can also play a role in whisky pairings – try a cold brew with rich fruit in tandem with a Singleton of Dufftown 12 year old or a more honeyed and earthy brew with a Dalwhinnie 15 year old. The fun is in experimentation and the exploration of flavour.”

Thalita Alves – Brown Forman Brand Ambassador, Australia

“Being sustainable will move from a concept, a point of difference to something we all do more and more such as using local, seasonal, fresh produce, finding a use for by-products, avoiding plastic, reducing waste and water use. The difference being, it will not be a conscious decision around the subject which is great.

With people rarely sticking to one type of spirit, one brand or one style of drink, they will be more experimental in the New Year and open to trying different things. As they move away from “one favourite” or “I only drink that”, the spirit/cocktail category will gain a lot. The entire whisky industry can keep growing stronger over the years as opposed to one brand growing for an uncertain period of time.

The aesthetics of what we serve are more important than ever, especially with the social media explosion, where “looks” are the main focus. People travel far away just to see the places they first discovered in good photos on Instagram. Venues are investing in the final presentation of their drinks, even for a simple neat spirit.

We will see more interesting non-alcoholic drinks. Sometimes (rarely) I don’t want to drink. That doesn’t mean I want water or something sweet, sour or fruit. The growth of delicate, well thought low ABV beverages and mocktails is something quite cool and will continue to grow.”

Mitch WilsonMaison Ferrand Brand Ambassador (Australia & New Zealand)

“We’ve seen a welcome shift towards sustainability in bars, and I feel this will continue to grow in 2018. It’s no longer a question of taste vs. sustainability – movements like Kelsey Ramage & Iain Griffith’s ‘Trash Tiki’ have shown us that you can have morals that taste delicious. As more bars figure out that this can lead to increased profitability too, I think we’ll see more bartenders being taught to be conscious of reducing waste.

In terms of bars, speakeasy and prohibition bars will always be popular, but there’s a whole range of quality bar options to choose from in Australia – this year we’ve seen more Tiki bars, quality restaurant bars, dedicated bartender bars, hotel bars, and modern bars, all provide quality alternatives to the 1920’s theme.

Drinks-wise, I’m looking forward to more bars pushing boundaries, breaking the mould, and challenging us with more and more interesting spirits and drinks off the beaten tracks. The Old Fashioned is safe – now show us something we haven’t seen before. This doesn’t mean you should sacrifice flavour for creativity – no matter how obscure or fancy an ingredient is, if it doesn’t taste delicious you’re going to need to find another way.”

Karel (Papi) Reyes – Monin National Brand Ambassador Stuart Alexander & Co.

“Australia always has a huge influence by American and European cocktail trends. In the last two to three years, gin, Amaro and whiskey cocktails are dominating our bars and cocktail lists. Somehow the coffee cocktail had a remarkable contribution and influence to the point that the number one cocktail sale in Australia is “The Espresso Martini”. This year in Europe, cocktails like Hugo (Elderflower syrup and champagne) has been taking place as the one to have for end users for its simplicity and easy home-made characteristic because of big movement of consumer to recreate cocktail to their homes like spritzers, coffee cocktails and fruity drinks so my predictions for Australian cocktails trends for 2018 are….

Low alcohol cocktails and a huge wave of non-alcoholic drinks are on their way to our shores.”

Daniele Pirotta – Campari Australia Brand Ambassador

“Nothing has given me more pleasure recently than witnessing the amazing resurgence, rediscovery and overall boom of Aperitivo. Be that the orange wave of Aperol Spritz that took Australia, the success of Negroni Week and its year on year growth, or the revived interest in small batch and craft vermouth like 1757 Cinzano, complimented by the re-energized interest into historical bitter Amari and Digestivo brands. Amaro Braulio, Cynar or Averna anyone?

It’s a good time to be a part of leading this awesome movement with our brands.

Next year we will see more interest from both bartenders and consumers in the Aperitivo and Amaro categories. More and more consumers will enjoy properly made Aperol Spritz with good proportions and not overly diluted or layered. We will also see consumers going back to drinking vermouth on the rocks with a slice of citrus, with 75 to 90ml at least; it’s the king of fortified wines after all!

Also, there will be an increasingly elevated perception of craft bourbon both from bartenders and consumers. The great liquid is there, the perception just needs some work. It’s going to be a great year for American Whiskey, bartenders absolutely adore Wild Turkey 101 and there will be more and more Russell’s Reserve in back bars, bar menus and kitchen cabinets.”

Ross Blainey – Brand Ambassador, The Balvenie, Australia & New Zealand, William Grant & Sons Australia

“The trend of spirits in 2018 will be a growth in breadth of a couple of categories. Firstly, whisk(e)y – the world spirit is becoming more worldly year on year. Some incredible malts from around the globe will continue to crop up. Some great single malt from the likes of the U.S. is being produced with the likes of Westland. Australia continues to produce top quality product and as the rest of the world continues to build an understanding of their own distillery style and how it matures, we will keep seeing better malts. Scotch will continue to grow but not in competition with the new world, alongside it.

I truly believe that the distilleries of Scotland have an important role to play in helping and aiding the distilleries of the new world from experience and I hope to see that trend take place more in 2018. Scotch will keep experimenting with new ideas, new casks and new expressions while staying true to its roots. People getting into whisky generally start in one country but everyone becomes adventurous through whisky and yearns to experience what the rest of the world has to offer whether they start on single malt Scotch, Japanese or anywhere in the world.

The “Ginsplosion” will continue, new gin entering the market but I also see that amongst the many craft gins from Australia, we will start to see some of the better ones push above the rest of the market as people become more discerning and after trying many gins come back to some of their favourites.”

Peter Hollands – Brand Ambassador, Bacardi-Martini Australia

“2018 I believe is going to be headed back to fun cocktails. Gone with barrel aging cocktails, gone with pre-batching everything (though I understand this is definitely required for many venues), and gone with 20 bitters on the back bar.

I think we’ll see bartenders go back to easier fun drinks to entertain their guests. I recently had a great Stinger twist at The Everleigh, an awesome disco drink brought to life which had their guests giggling.

I ordered a Daiquiri from a bartender I hadn’t met before and she recommended me a Bacardi Cocktail instead, “It’s the same thing but with grenadine, I love it because it’s a bit sweeter!” I was very pleased to receive that small piece of service and a well-balanced cocktail. Seymour’s Cocktails and Oysters in Brisbane make a Watermelon London Calling which please both and common punter and the cocktail aficionado.

So next year look to make your drinks inclusive for all. Simple tasty twists to keep your guests entertained, order the same drink twice and come back next week.

Also Grasshoppers, just because they’re delicious.”

Photo by Cocktails & Bars – © Copyright: All rights reserved.

Cocktail Trend Predictions for 2018 by Brand Ambassadors was last modified: December 7th, 2017 by Corinne Mossati
Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of Cocktails & Bars and popular online magazine Gourmantic. She is named in the Australian Bartender Magazine Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The World’s 50 Best Bars Academy who judges the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions. Read the full bio here.