Cocktail Trends

The world of mixology and cocktail culture is always rapidly changing. New ingredients, preparations, and techniques, as well as new priorities for sourcing and presentation all drive a constant evolution in the alcoholic beverage space.

Some "trends" endure longer than others. Although the mezcal craze has seemed to finally come to an end, mezcal ruled the most influential bars and cocktail restaurants for many years. "Artisan" gin has also apparently plateaued. Espresso martinis are still going strong, but have been for a while now. Surely, their time is limited.

2023 saw a number of interesting new cocktail trends emerge, many of which are likely to endure through 2024. Here's a quick rundown of the cocktail trends we think are likely to be with us for a while longer:

Personalized cocktail ice: Crystal clear ice has been a thing for quite sometime now, but "customized" cubes have more recently become all the rage. Logos, messages, images; the ice cube has become a tiny canvas for all sorts of personal expression and creativity.  Want an image of your pug floating in your Negroni? There's a website for that.

Savory cocktails: Obviously, savory cocktails have been around for as long as there have been cocktails, but 2023 saw notable growth in their popularity. As more and more drinkers move away from sweet, sugary concoctions and drift toward spirit-forward cocktails that highlight the flavors of the liquor, savory cocktails have really come into their own. Parmesan martinis, Caprese martinis, mushroom martinis; they're all just a small sampling of the new appreciation for complex, subtle, and sophisticated flavor combinations.

Garnish minimalism: For a while, over-the-top garnishes were de rigeur in the fancy bars and lounges (think fancy cut fruit and fronds of all shapes and sizes). But, as concerns over food waste and eco-consciousness have grown, bartenders have moved toward a more minimalist approach to garnishes. Single peels of citrus, an olive, a dehydrated lemon or lime wheel, a sprinkle of herb; these are now the preferred accompaniments to even the most creative drinks.

Agave alternatives: With intrigue and interest in mezcal waning, alternative forms of agave-based spirits and agave-adjacent spirits have gained in popularity. Most notable are sotol (a desert-based, non-agave plant made from a varietal called desert spoon that produces an herbaceous and grassy tequila-like liquor) and bacanora (a fruity agave-based spirit made in Sonora, Mexico from wild-grown agave pacifica). If you're game to try these spirits, we recommend a bottle of Oro de Coyame (about $20) for sotol, and Sunora bacanora (about $40).

Shrubs: Skyrocketing prices for citrus have motivated hospitality professionals to seek out other forms of mixer ingredients. One of the most popular has been the shrub, which is typically a vinegar and fruit concoction that adds acidity and fruit to a cocktail recipe. Shrubs have been around for thousands of years (the Romans used them to preserve fruits and other ingredients) but today bartenders are finding that shrubs can take cocktails in bold and exciting new directions.

Milk punches: Smoked milk and clarified milk punches have begun to appear on cocktail menus all over the world, especially the most innovative and cutting-edge establishments in New York, Mexico City, Toronto, and London. You can clarify almost any liquid, but the alchemy of clarifying milk is based on a simple chemistry. When you add alcohol to milk, it causes it to curdle, which separates the solids from the liquid, leaving behind a clear cocktail ingredient. Clarified milk is being used in countless cocktail recipes, mixed with everything from Earl Grey to lemon to citrus juices of all kinds.
Fat Washes: Bacon washes have been a thing for a few years now, but that trend seems to be growing and evolving into something much more complex and wide ranging. In 2024, expect to see an increasing number of bartenders using more unconventional cocktail ingredients such as coconut oil, goose fat, and sesame oil to fat-wash their drinks. This technique enables the world's best bars to add a savory, umami layer to the cocktails they create, which heightens the complex flavor profiles in their drinks.

Fluffy cocktails: Traditionally, getting a cocktail to be "fluffy" required the use of egg white; notably shaking egg white into a drink to create creaminess, froth, and mouthfeel. Today, there are many alternatives available to aid in the fluffing of a cocktail, most notable among them is aquafaba (liquid from a can a can of white beans) and all the variations of aquafaba and egg white powder available on the market.

Recently, mixologists have turn to a newer technique to achieve fluffiness: aeration of ingredients. The appeal of a "fluffy" cocktail is really two-fold: by aerating a key ingredient (often citrus) the aroma is heightened and the mouthfeel it imparts is made smoother and more umami-like. Look for an increased presence of fluffy cocktails on the menus of your favorite serious cocktail purveyors as we move through 2024. Here's a fluffy cocktail recipe to get you started at home:

Fluffy Batch Garibaldi

    • Ingredients
      • 2 oz. Batch 22
      • 1 oz. Campari
      • 1 oz. Simple syrup
      • 6 ozs. Fresh squeezed blood orange juice
    • Directions
      • In a highball glass with ice, combine the Batch, Campari, and simple syrup by mixing well. Aerate the orange juice in a high-sided container, using a milk frother or similar small device. Aerate for 1 minute or so, until juice becomes foamy and frothy. Pour slowly into the highball glass and stir gently. Garnish with an orange slice.