The operator's annual survey of food and beverage staff reveals more vegetables, better coffee drinks and more rosé on the horizon.
Many bars and restaurants are already looking toward 2018 for renewal and a revamp. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, which manages more than 80 restaurants, bars and lounges in the United States, Caribbean and Europe, offered their thoughts on what will be hot next year via their fourth annual Culinary & Cocktails Trend Forecast.
The forecast findings come from a survey of leading chefs, sommeliers, general managers and bartenders from Kimpton restaurants, bars and lounges in 37 cities. Among their bartenders, leading edge concepts include “Drink Your Vegetables,” with 91% of Kimpton bartenders saying they plan to use vegetables in a cocktail in 2018, including beets, carrots, green beans, butternut squash, corn and radishes.
Coffee, too, can expect to receive more attention, as 9 out of 10 Kimpton bartenders say they’ll go beyond traditional Irish coffee to create unique coffee cocktails. One such example is a Turkish espresso featuring aged rum and agave infused with cacao nibs. Another is a sophisticated Manhattan variant made with cardamom-coffee vermouth.
Eighty percent of Kimpton bartenders said they would create a cocktail in part for its visual appeal on social media, leveraging vibrant colors, unique vessels and inventive garnishes ranging from elegant (a flowering herb bouquet) to eclectic (a miniature rubber ducky).
The report also revealed an upswing in German-style gose beers and other sour beers, which offer adventurous beer drinkers a crisp beer with a touch of tartness and spice. Kimpton also saw a growing interest in Japanese whisky, popular with whiskey drinkers looking for a lighter, cleaner, floral alternative to American whiskey.
Other drink-related findings: Health-conscious consumers will increase demand for cocktails with healthy add-ins like turmeric or ginger that provide alternatives to sugary drinks and minimize extra calories. An emphasis on sustainability has led to creative use of ingredients and reduced waste, with 71% of Kimpton bartenders noting such practices as a key consideration for cocktail design in 2018. Examples include making citrus stock from used citrus peels, using compostable straws, and using whole fruits and vegetables in cocktails, from the juice to the pulp to the skin.
Kimpton’s beverage staff also predicted that growing interest in dry, sparkling and single-vineyard varietals of rosé will continue its rise. They also anticipate taking the art of mixology to the world of wine by creating new flavor combinations as well as personalized blends. Beverage staff indicated they expect alternative wine packaging for small batch and unique varietals in 2018. Another development is the use of nontraditional vessels in the form of edible "glassware," and household items such as miniature flower pots and vases finding new life as drinkware.
Among the culinary predictions that may also hold promise as bartenders look more to the kitchen in the future: Nordic influences like juniper and lingonberries, and Scandinavian cocktail ingredients like bramble shrub, dill, rhubarb and aquavit. At Boleo in Chicago, for example, a classic sour with Scandinavian influence and flavors found its way onto the menu this past fall. Boleo’s Aurora Kiruna was made using Brennivin Special Cask Selection aquavit, Absolut Elyx, lemon, and spiced cranberry syrup, and featured a garnish of candied rosemary.
An intriguing development that showcases the kitchen-to-bar trend is the use of various spices. Kimpton beverage staff in Seattle and Cambridge have used the traditional Middle Eastern spice blend za’atar, as well as the French blend of spices known as vadouvan.
The full trend report, recipes, photos and more can be found on Kimpton’s Culinary + Cocktails microsite.