Blame it on Madmen, Millennials or Pinterest, but there is a steadily growing contingent of cocktail enthusiasts who now have more ingredients to play with than ever before. You can get spherical ice cube kits from Amazon, artisanal mezcal at the click of a search button, and prickly pear simple syrup with just a little hunting (which, incidentally, goes very well with the mezcal).
We’re living in the Golden Age of Home Bartending.
Whether you’re a pro or an ambitious amateur, these are the cocktail trends to watch in 2019.
Trend #1: Digging into ancient cocktail history
The history of cocktails goes back well over 200 years, with punch (the cocktail’s great grandmother) reaching back into the 1600s. Classic cocktails from the 20s-60s are well-loved and frequently found on menus. But in the next few years, we predict a resurgence of even older recipes (and punch is coming back – mark our words!).
And with those older recipes will come the availability of older ingredients, like genever.
“During the heyday of the American cocktail in the late 1860s, one in four American cocktails was based on this Netherlandish, malt-based, juniper-flavored spirit (sort of a bridge between whiskey because of the malt, and gin because of the juniper). To this day, genever is the national spirit of the Netherlands. However, the two World Wars and Prohibition knocked genever out of American consciousness.” – World of Genever
Genever only re-entered the US market in 2010, but in 2018, two more genever brands crossed the pond, and 2019 will introduce two more.
So what do you do with it? It’s a precursor to gin, so try switching out the gin in your favorite cocktail with genever. It’s particularly good in a Negroni.
Trend #2: Culinary Mixology
Wine and food pairings are as old as time (wine has been around since 7000 BCE, so it’s had a head start). But cocktail and culinary pairings are just gaining steam. Whole Foods published its predictions for 2019 food trends and we predict that cocktail trends will follow as more people, and more restaurants, realize that cocktails and cuisine go hand-in-hand. Whole Foods’ #1 prediction: Pacific Rim flavors (Asia, Oceania, and the west coasts of Africa). It looks like the Tiki drink trend of 2018 isn’t going away anytime soon.
Vipin Labroo, the Marketing Director of Advanced Mixology confirms both the trend towards pairing food with cocktails and the Pacific Rim influence:
“The ingredients that will go into your 2019 cocktails range from the exotic butterfly pea flower tea to the more regular pineapple juice, which is all set to overtake strawberry as the leading cocktail flavor of 2019. Passion fruit too will be popular.”
Quill, a popular lounge in Washington DC, introduced a fall seasonal cocktail in 2018 that capitalizes on the Pacific Rim theme. The Full Moon Party is made with a Thai tea apricot mix, Mount Gay Rum, Chinese five spice and citrus.
Trend #3: Good spirits make better desserts
Austin, Texas is one of the great eating cities, and when a “boozy ice cream and cocktail bar” starts there, a larger trend is sure to follow. Prohibition Creamery is that bar, combining ice cream and craft cocktails, and specializing in dessert drinks. Laura Aidan, the founder, attended Penn State’s 120-year-old ice cream program (who knew that existed?) and has spent years mastering the art of infusing spirits into ice cream.
If you have an ice-cream maker, you can make your own sangria sorbet to recreate Laura’s Femme Fatale: A scoop of sangria sorbet, “made with lots of wine, fresh lemon and orange zest, and a variety of fruits,” topped with Prosecco in a coupe glass. She says the secret to making boozy sorbet is to “ensure that the base is fully chilled in the refrigerator for several hours prior to freezing.”
Or just pour bourbon into your next chocolate milkshake. You won’t be disappointed.
Trend 4: Non-fruit ingredients
The ingredients list for cocktails is going to get even more exotic with rarely-used vegetables (sunchoke, fiddlehead fern) and mushrooms. We’ve been seeing this trend crop up over the past two years, with button mushrooms taking the place of olives as a martini garnish and simple syrups infused with chanterelle and shitakis. Can you say “Umami”?
Trend 5: Pantone’s color of the year – Living Coral
Pantone’s color of the year for 2019 is Living Coral, and if you track these things, you know that you’ll soon see everything from socks, to throw pillows, to towels (towels always come last) in that bright hue. What you might not expect is for cocktails to follow suit. But, when you have an ingredient that just happens to be that beautiful blush… well, it’s nearly inevitable.
Enter the Cara Cara orange. Backyard fruit growers have long praised the Cara Cara as one of the “best eating oranges,” and it is. Juicy and sweet, it’s ideal for juicing. But, what really sets the Cara Cara apart is its unique coral color. It’s not quite a blood orange red. It really is a deep orangey pink, almost like a grapefruit but without the bitter aftertaste. Cara Cara oranges also pack 20% more vitamin C and 30% more vitamin A than standard Navel oranges.
Sunkist Growers published a creative variation on the Mai Tai to highlight the Cara Cara orange’s cocktail capabilities:
- 1 1/2 ounces rum
- 1/4 ounce apricot liqueur
- 1 ounce freshly-squeezed Sunkist Cara Cara Navel orange juice
- 1/2 ounce freshly-squeezed Sunkist lime juice
- 1 ounce Orgeat
- crushed ice
- 1 sprig of mint
- 4 dashes of bitters
- Measure the rum, apricot liqueur, Sunkist Cara Cara juice, Sunkist lime juice and Orgeat into a highball cocktail glass.
- Fill with crushed ice and swizzle.
- Garnish with a sprig of mint and bitters.
Trend 6: Pitcher cocktails (we called it here first!)
Josh Miller and Tyler Holland are the owners and founders of Owen’s Craft Mixers – it’s literally their business to know upcoming cocktail trends. One trend they highlighted is large batch cocktails.
“Large batch craft cocktails are perfect for groups to enjoy together, adding to the social scene and providing instagrammable moments. We’ve seen this trend start to emerge in NYC, LA and Miami and anticipate that 2019 will be a strong year for this style of drinking with friends across the country. And, we see this trend extending to at-home entertainers who can quickly create unique cocktails at home with simple recipes and presentation that will impress guests.”
We’d say a related trend that Owen’s Craft Mixers is very much on top of is the trend towards making craft cocktails faster and easier. Everyone wants the taste of a well-made cocktail with great ingredients. Not everyone wants to put in the work. Sometimes, it’s really nice just to pour.
Trend 7: Fermented influences
Townshend Distillery in Portland, Oregon uses kombucha as an ingredient in some of their unusual cocktails, creating some outstanding and unexpected flavor combinations. And we’ve been seeing other fermented friends appearing too, like pickled garnishes.
Journeyman Distillery, out of Michigan, puts a twist on a classic Gimlet by garnishing it with a cornichon (think mini-pickle), cocktail onion and dill.
Journeyman’s Pickled Gimlet
- 2 oz. Journeyman Field Gin
- ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
- ¾ oz. simple syrup
- Cornichon, cocktail onion and dill, for garnish
- Shake all ingredients well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with the cornichon, cocktail onion, and dill.
Trend 8: Home infusions
Infusing alcohol with all kinds of delicious things is not new. It’s very, very old. What is new is the popularity of infusing spirits at home. There are homemade gin kits and DIY bitters kits and clever recipes for infusing liquor with candy.
McCrea’s Candies published master mixologist Dylan Holcomb’s Coconut Caramel Mule recipe that calls for a 750ml bottle of rum (or your favorite spirit – bourbon would be phenomenal) infused with 25 of McCrea’s Candies caramels. Let the caramels sit in the spirit for a few days (the longer they sit, the stronger the flavor, so you may want to ‘test’ it daily), and then use to make a delicious cocktail.
Dylan Holcomb’s Coconut Caramel Mule
- 1 ½ oz caramel-infused Gubba Silver Coconut Rum
- ½ oz. pineapple juice
- 3 oz. ginger beer
- Once you’ve infused the rum with 14 pieces of McCrea’s Candies Ginger Fusion Caramel and 6 pieces of McCrea’s Candies Classic Vanilla Caramel, build all ingredients in a copper mug and stir.
- Garnish with a lime wheel and McCrea’s Candies Ginger Fusion Caramel.
Trend #9: Sustainable / Eco-Friendly Cocktails
The Skip the Straw movement, and the related removal of single-use plastics, is a growing trend – part of an even larger trend towards making everything we do more earth-friendly. Not only are we seeing more metal cocktail straws, we’re seeing producers stepping up to implement, and even invent, more environmentally conscious practices.
Marble Distillery Co., a female-founded craft spirits distillery in Aspen, Colorado cold-presses juice from locally sourced fruit and vegetables – like beets – to produce artisan vodka, gingercello, bourbon and whiskey. Not only are their fruits and vegetables local, they’re a “zero-waste” distillery. That means they recapture all of their process water and reuse energy harvested from the distillation process to heat their facility – even designing their own Water Energy Thermal System.
And, their Beet Buzz cocktail encapsulates a number of trends from this list: it uses infusions, a vegetable, and a pickled baby beet!
The Beet Buzz Cocktail from Marble Distillery
Chilled Martini Glass ~ Garnish with rosemary sprig and pickled baby beet
- 2 oz. Rosemary beet juice infusion
- 1.5 oz. Marble Beet Vodka (soak fresh-cut beets in Marble Vodka for 6 hours – remove beets)
- .5 oz. Gingercello
- .5 oz. ginger simple
- .25 fresh lemon juice
- .25 fresh lime juice
Is there a 2019 cocktail trend we missed? What new trends have you spied from your barstool? We’d love to hear them!