What Bars and Nightclubs Can Expect in 2010

Bar Trends Crystal BallWhat trends will pick up in 2010, and what’s just a passing phase? Nightclub & Bar asked experts from different areas of the on-premise industry to go out on a limb and predict the future. What came back were interesting insights, from emerging trends in wine and beer to upcoming business opportunities. Here are the top 2010 trends for bars and nightclubs; you can read the other trends here.


By Jack Robertiello

Culinary Cocktails
Pioneers like Scott Beattie, formerly of Cyrus in Healdsburg, Calif., Jackson Cannon at Eastern Standard in Boston and Gina Chersevani at PS 7’s in Washington D.C., have spurred the idea that cocktails should enhance and take inspiration from a restaurant’s food. Using non-traditional ingredients — curry, yogurt, roasted root vegetables, edible flowers — they are creating a new category that walks the line between drink and food, and it’s spreading. Look for more adaptations of the savory flavors coming from these culinary cocktail whizzes.

The Return of the Rinse
The return of absinthe as an ingredient and the Sazerac as a drink brings back a very old technique: the rinse. Especially with strong flavored ingredients, rinsing a glass with a spirit before pouring in or building a drink controls the amount of flavor added, and also can incorporate a bit of brown spirit depth to a white-spirit-based drink.

Tiki Really Does Live
Martin Cate, who helped establish Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge in Alameda, Calif., as an international Tiki destination, soon will open Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, featuring Tiki drinks, traditional Caribbean beverages including those served in pre-Prohibition Havana, and a collection of rare rums. It’s only the latest in high-end rum bars offering a broad selection of rums and classic Cuban, Barbadian and Jamaican drinks. Rum-focused operations are heating up, and those featuring Tiki drinks made with multiple rums are set to succeed Mojito bars as the next rum thing.

Recessionary Cocktails
Bars will trim inventory and opt for lower-priced quality spirits. Some suppliers recently realized there is place for quality spirits that don’t spend a fortune on packaging, marketing, promotion and glitz. Those brands are now perfectly positioned to reap the benefits of a business driven to cut costs. Look for better but less well-known brands in the well, especially vodkas, tequilas, whiskeys and gins.

Hello Herbal, Goodbye Sweet
Bartenders have been looking for years for high-quality, low-sugar, high-alcohol cordials that provide quality flavor profiles and mixability. Some have opted for small production brands; others are making their own. Many are using more complex herbal and bitter cordials that are impossible to replicate. Artificial flavors are out, while interesting and fresh flavors work better with craft bartending. So, things like Italian amaros, French herbal liqueurs and unique products, especially from craft distillers, will show up in many cocktails next year.


By Bryan Bass

House Music
House music is seeing renewed energy and devotion at the country’s top nightlife venues, a trend that will continue into 2010. “After the dramatic success we’ve had with peak weekend performances from DJ Erick Morillo, we’re going to start doing regularly scheduled house music events at TAO,” confirms Jason Strauss, co-owner of TAO and LAVO in Las Vegas and Marquee and Avenue in New York City. There are also rumors that Strauss and gang will be opening a LAVO in New York formatted with a house music focus, establishing house music as a bona fide trend. With Southern California becoming a hotbed for house music and even palatial venues like Miami’s LIV, which switches from open format to all house at 1:30 a.m. on Saturdays, raising the beats per minute, house music looks to have a big effect in 2010.

The Great Outdoors
Forward-thinking operators will drive the success of untraditional venue locations like pool decks, rooftops and indoor/outdoor spaces. Las Vegas already is the capital of “daylife,” but operators in San Diego and San Francisco are following the Vegas day-club formula with similar profitability. Skyward, new rooftop venues in New York at the Gansevoort and Standard hotels are having stunning success, proving the age-old adage that a great view never goes out of style. “People really enjoy being open to the elements, especially when you have the weather to back it up,” adds Cy Waits, managing partner of Tryst and XS nightclubs in Las Vegas, both of which offer indoor/outdoor experiences and whose newest venue, Drai’s Hollywood, will also feature a large rooftop nightclub. “There is something very different about partying outdoors and 10-plus stories above the street; it makes people feel special and women especially enjoy it.”

Art in the Club
In this economy, fickle club-goers are demanding their dollars go further, and entertainment is one way to offer greater value. We see more nightclubs incorporating live acts and finding unique ways to integrate entertainment into the venue. It seems natural that Hollywood, Calif., nightclubs are out in front of this trend, as both Playhouse and Voyeur have opened in recent months with performance-driven focal points. In Las Vegas, Paul Oakenfold’s performance-driven Perfecto Vegas continues to pack them in every Saturday night. We also are seeing more artistic-geared promotions as marketing directors come under increasing pressure be creative in a hyper-competitive marketplace.

Social Technology
Look for more venues to experiment with social media marketing in 2010. While it’s a busy and somewhat convoluted playing field, one promoter noted that his Facebook guest lists have the highest rate of return, as far as people who actually accepted invitations to attend. Furthermore, venues are getting more creative about how to use these tools within their space. For example, TAO Nightclub in Las Vegas held a “Tweasure Hunt” where clues were tweeted for a real-time treasure hunt, allowing club-goers to become interactive with the venue while the winner took home a $5,000 prize.

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