Cocktails will continue to be at the forefront of social moments in 2018, but after years of pushing the boundaries of taste profiles with special ingredients, bartenders and cocktail artists are returning to their roots. Classic, well-made cocktails with solid ingredients are on the upswing, while the wildly experimental one-off drinks that filled bar menus only last year are being phased out. This return to the classics does not just mean a resurgence of your grandparents’ drinks; it is a 21st century update for the expanded palates and greater social conscious spending habits of a new generation.
As noted in the 2018 cocktail outlook published in the online magazine Observer, all contributors agreed that bartenders are flocking back to simple and time-honored foundational recipes for their drinks. This is seen as a way to build competent and well-composed cocktails that amplify their bases and local ingredients.
These classics are not just reclaimed but are reimagined for a new generation of patrons. This recipe enhancement allows consumers to experience new flavors and taste combinations through familiar cocktails. Instead of using cheap 1-liter swill and mass produced mixers, bartenders are using the time-honored and simple recipes of classic cocktails to amplify artisan distillers’ liquor, and locally sourced and seasonal ingredients.
Not only are local and seasonal ingredients becoming a must for the palates of discerning drinkers, but they are also more inclined to order these cocktails because they are ecologically sustainable. A recent survey by the Diageo Reserve World Class Club, an orginization dedicated to providing accredited training for bartenders, as well as hosting competitions around the world, found that half of customers ordering drinks would be willing to pay 10% more for beverages that are environmentally friendly or responsibly sourced. According to the The Spirit Business, this includes using paper or metal straws in lieu of plastic ones, and finding ways to repurpose and/or reuse kitchen and bar scraps in the drink-making process. Using seasonal ingredients as a focus in your cocktails is another popular green method to make classic cocktails that are sustainable and high-end but also keep the interest of your customers piqued. Seasonal ingredients are fresh and often have a greater potential for unique flavors than mass farm varieties.
When it comes to cocktails in 2018 the old axiom remains true, with some slight changes; K.I.S.S.S-S – keep it simple, seasonal and sustainably sourced. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel, just update your planning and sourcing for a new generation of drinkers that want to reach for something reliable that is aligned with principles.