For many operators, the big question as we head into the New Year is seemingly simple: What’s coming in 2017? Everyone has an opinion, but Bacardí gathered together the people who work their brands, called collectively the Bacardí Trade Advocacy Portfolio Team, and asked these experts for their opinions on the most noteworthy and impactful drinking trends poised to grow as we enter the New Year.
Here are some of trends to watch out for in 2017:
Fresher and healthier is better, says Hillary Choo-Jaroschy, who works south Florida for the company. “This past year the cocktail industry has seen a massive growth and demand for ‘fresher and healthier is better.’” Long gone are the days of sweet and sour mix being used in every bar for speed, efficiency and flavor control. Today's bartenders and bar managers are no longer afraid to create housemade juices, syrups, shrubs, and sodas, and are using more or almost exclusively fresh, health-conscious ingredients.
Colin Asare-Appiah, East Senior Portfolio Ambassador, believes that vodka is back. “Vodka has been making its way back into serious cocktails on bar menus this past year in a way no one saw coming. The days of the majority of bartenders looking down on this clear spirit are over. Instead, they are embracing vodka as an excellent ingredient choice, one that is flexible and approachable. Most importantly, bartenders are finally recognizing that the public wants vodka in their drinks.
The veteran brand man also sees a revival for rum. ”Rum has faced a stigma in the past with very little consumer awareness or interest existing outside of ‘occasion-based’ drinking. Luckily, the tides seem to be shifting with a new wave of a demand for expertly prepared, tiki-inspired cocktails, and bartenders are seeking out rum brands that have an authentic story and unique taste that give them reason to include them on their back bar and on their cocktail menus.” And he believes punch is already set for a tune-up.
“The trend of clarified milk punch is in the midst of its second historical revival, and most of the world is rediscovering it in either technique or spirit,” says Asare-Appiah. Milk punch, a 17th century England concoction, is starting to make a comeback and can be expected on more craft cocktail bar menus.
What else? Adrian Biggs, Director of Trade Engagement, says frozen drinks are being upgraded and overcoming the decades old bartender hate. “Folks have been upping their frozen game and translating these concoctions into expertly prepared cocktails. Cocktail bars around the country are fully embracing the idea of frozen by transforming upscale drinks into refreshing and complex libations utilizing tools like liquid nitrogen, turbo icemakers, and, of course, the classic slushy machine.
Areina Thomas, San Francisco Portfolio Ambassador, predicts more aperitif- / aperitivo-style cocktails. “There is now a growing taste for fortified wines and liqueurs, as they have grown tremendously in popularity through their increased variety, availability, and overall delicious flavor. Cocktails that are lower in alcohol content have become more widely appreciated and are changing drinking culture as we known it.”
Meanwhile, Jaymee Mandeville, Bacardí’s West Senior Portfolio Ambassador, says guilty pleasures, like Pina Coladas and Appletinis, are set for a comeback. “There was a time when ‘70s-, ‘80s- and ‘90s-style cocktails were a no go in craft cocktail bars. They were looked down upon for their call of artificial ingredients, or thought to be too sweet and unsophisticated. Bartenders have recently begun to revisit these decades-old cocktails...re-imagining them with fresh, quality, housemade ingredients, transforming them into delicious, complex and well-executed drinks.”
Other big ideas from the team? More coffee- and tea-based cocktails, more frequent use of high-priced spirits in cocktails, and new ingredients like aquafaba, a byproduct of cooking legumes that is being seen as a replacement for egg whites in drinks, especially in areas where raw eggs are health department no-nos.