It’s that time of year to look in the rear view mirror at the cocktail trends that dominated throughout 2015.
We’ve noted a move away from the speakeasy, a decline in the 10-ingredient cocktail, premiumisation of spirits and the rise in consumer knowledge. What trended in 2015?
Here are the top 10 cocktails trends in 2015:
1. Low Alcohol Cocktails & Spritzers
This Must Be The Place may be leading this trend but we’ve also seen a rise in lower alcohol drinks and spritzers on many bar menus. Light, carbonated sessionable cocktails are also gaining exposure in restaurants’ drinks lists.
2. Barrel Aged Cocktails
Whether it’s barrel aged gin on rotation, barrel ageing Vesper Martinis, barrel ageing a house-blend of vermouth at Molly, leather ageing Negronis or 12 x 20 litre barrels ageing rum cocktails at The Highball Express, barrel aged cocktails have exploded on the scene.
3. Nitro-Chilled Cocktails
While nitro-chilled cocktails have long been part of the sought-after Eau de Vie experience, we’ve seen a return to this trend. Bars such as The Powder Keg are pouring G&T out of a smoking kettle. Geisha Hause followed suit and it’s a staple at One Tea Lounge & Grill. Long-time bar flies may consider it past its use by date but if it’s meant to appeal to a new type of drinker, that remains to be seen.
4. Bottled & Pre-Batched Cocktails
From the Yuzu Breezer at Dead Ringer and gin cocktails at the Gin & It pop up to Heartbreaker in Melbourne, bottled cocktails have gained popularity with many pre-batching their drinks particularly in high volume bars.
5. Cocktails on Tap
Cocktails on tap are becoming the norm in many bars and restaurants with the likes of Negroni and Aperol Spritz on tap at Casoni, Espresso Martinis on tap at Melbourne’s Arbory Bar & Eatery, and Old Fashioned on tap at The Baxter Inn.
Not just as a cocktail ingredient, vermouth is starting to take a leading role in drinks lists, with some brands recommending signature serves in standalone drinks. Sherry and digestivi such as amari are also following suit.
7. Smoked Cocktails
Whether they’re smoked under a cloche or in the bottle for a concentrated effect, smoked cocktails are not only the realm of cocktail competitions. Rosemary, applewood, cinnamon, star anise and hickory are some of the popular choices.
Not just as a smorgasbord for G&T, popular garnishes such as rosemary sprigs, edible flowers, printed messages pegged to the rim of a glass have joined the ubiquitous dehydrated citrus wheels.
9. Hand-Cut Ice
More than just frozen water. Hand-cut ice with the ice block on display at the bar, hand-carved ice spheres on demand, even bottled cocktails poured over clear ice from the Navy Strength Ice Co, clear ice is adding an aesthetic dimension to the cocktail along with the benefit of slow dilution.
10. Cocktail Bars in Restaurants
It may be a byproduct of the NSW lockout laws or a diversification of business interests but very few standalone bars have opened in Sydney in 2015. Could this spell the early demise of the small bar culture in Sydney? With some operators opening restaurants with top notch bars, we’re seeing a synergy between kitchen and bar, pairing cocktails with various cuisines and impressive drinks to accompany the menu from entree to dessert.
Future Cocktail Trends
What will the future cocktail trends be for 2016? Will agave spirits mainly tequila, mezcal and sotol finally take off? Will Australia follow some emerging trends such as the rise of moonshine as an ingredient, will cocktails be served at room temperature, or will these international trends fade like those mist bars with breathable cocktails?
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