When it comes to cocktails, the coming year will focus on a return to the basics with convenience, quality, and hospitality leading the charge. Below are five beverage trends that will take the spotlight in America’s F&B space in 2018.
1. Biodegradable Paper Straws
Plastic straws are bad for the environment. With the #stopsucking movement gaining steam around the world, making a conscious decision about a bar’s use of straws going forward is paramount. Properties including Thompson Seattle, Joie de Vivre’s Hotel Kabuki, and Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort, have begun to exclusively use paper straws with other hotels such as Chicago Athletic Association following a by-request policy. With functionality being top of mind, it’s important to source straws that do not break down in a cocktail and hold up to a morning cold brew. Eco-friendly, biodegradable, and even customizable paper straws are available today through companies like Aardvark Straws.
2. Convenience-Driven Sips
Not much sums up convenience quite like the hotel minibar. However, travelers may find the process of sourcing ice, committing to a bottle of overpriced booze, and the additional charge of opening a mixer to be cumbersome. Enter canned cocktails, like those from Cutwater Spirits—a quintessentially Californian brand that originated in San Diego and offers a flavored line of vodka soda—from canned Cucumber Vodka Soda to a Moscow Mule. This trend of convenience will likely continue to build over the next year.
3. Southern California Beverage Tourism
The restaurant and bar scene up the Southern California coast has been growing. Consortium Holdings has long overseen some of the most exciting concepts in the area, and the company’s commitment to training programs along with elevating standards has blossomed a generation of killer bartenders in the region. Destinations like Campfire in Carlsbad and Booze Brothers in Vista are giving North County locals a reason to stay close to home.
4. Year-Round Spritz Cocktails
The spritz is here to stay—and not just in the warm weather. While Aperol rightfully owns the classic 3:2:1 recipe (three parts prosecco, two parts Aperol, one part club soda), creative variations and seasonal takes are popping up all over the country. Incorporating amari, fortified wines, and spiced liqueurs, bars are beginning to embrace guests’ desires for light, bitter, and bubbly sips—even in the colder months.
5. Luxury Cocktail Menu Sections
Being in the know will always be a trend, and Japanese whisky is one of those in-the-know spirits that will continue to gain international attention in the coming year. Like Scotch, consumers are not afraid to pay a premium for something they have yet to try, particularly when there is a story attached. Bars are adding more luxury sections on cocktail menus, and charging a little more for an experience featuring rare, harder-to-source spirits.
With an undisputed return to mastering the basics and attention to both quality as well as convenience in 2018, charitable efforts in the beverage space will also continue to occur. Through imbibing and donating concurrently, opportunities to support crucial causes and those in need will increase as a natural expansion of hospitality within and beyond the bar.
About the Author
Shel Bourdon is the national director of bars for Two Roads Hospitality.
Photos courtesy of Two Roads Hospitality.