Bartender Forecasts

New York magazine’s Fall Preview issue has predictions about what some NYC bartenders/mixologists think are the most promising drink trends for the fall.

It’s been some time since “behind the bar experts” have taken me to task for a blog posting (and I kind of miss being yelled at), so, here are their predictions.

Let me know what you think (he said with trepidation).

The first prediction mentioned is that mezcal will “break through.” Frankly, I’ve been predicting that myself for a number of years. While I’m not an aficionado of tequila or mezcal, the latter has a small batch product quality not to mention allure and mystique – and the worm BS is not what I’m talking about.

Unfortunately, for Mezcal to break through it will take some clout and marketing support that most producers don’t have. Nevertheless, I continue to think it will grow.

My take: I agree with the forecast.

The second prediction is that cognac will become a cocktail ingredient. The magazine argues that the ceremonial “from the bottle” drinking patterns of rappers and hedge fund types will give way to its use in mixed drinks.

Really? When I was working in China, cognac was often served with food (in addition to before and after meals). When I asked why, many told me “strong food requires a strong liquor.” In other words, cognac likes to be alone.

My take: I don’t think so. Cognac and cola (Yack and coke) is probably as far as the consumer will go.

Finally, they predict that cocktails will get bottled (prepared) or be on tap. Pre-batched mixes allow for signature cocktails, save time and increases productivity. (Note that they are not talking about commercial premixed cocktails you buy in the store).

More and more trendy bars have started offering batch-made cocktails served from kegs instead of mixing to order.

My take: Increased productivity is a good thing but I want to see the bartender mix it in front of me, especially at $15 to $20 per cocktail. Besides, I don’t go to trendy bars as much as I used to.

What’s your take on these predictions? Got any of your own you’d like to share?


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1 comment

  1. mmm, this is a fun topic. My opinions are only moderately well-informed, as I have been out of spirits for 2 years and am now just in beer. But, I do read about trends…my inclinations are almost opposite of yours:

    — Mezcal. I agree it will continue to gain awareness/acceptance, but while I could see a proliferation of artisanal tequilas (read the term single-village awhile back) I just don’t see it working for mezcal. I dont think consumers mentally “need” a new mexican liquid, and I honestly think they are too married to the gritty imagery to want to imagine the category as “the new scotch”. If it grows, it will be in specialty bars and as shots. But that’s just me, perhaps with 2 year old intel.

    –Cognac. My gut disagrees here as well. I think the new generation of Cognac drinkers are rule-breakers and will follow vodka patterns in mixology and innovation. It has ultra-premium cachet and sweetness that folks will inspire endless combinations. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but I’ll bet we will see it.

    –Pre-mix. Interesting. I see growth on and off premise, and the quality is getting better. Got into a discussion with my L/S manager this week about how they are using wine alcohol in the pre-mix due to lower taxation. I see this trend really proliferating on the lower end, the good time party bars and grocery shopper moms. But for the more sophisticated 20-something single scenesters, we are seeing they want to not only see the mixing but participate as well. Swanky hotel bars like the James are putting out DIY cocktails to make them more ‘experiential’.

    The only trend I continue to see gain momentum is finding a way to make sweet drinks masculine, like Jeremiah Weed or SoCo. And seeing lots of bourbons in the front of the backbar, displacing vodka in the trendier locales. I think we will see more innovation in pouring rituals, glassware, other gadgetry/tech stuff.

    great topic!

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