As much as it is important to drink responsibly, it is also a good idea to keep up with the latest trends in the cocktail industry. Here are three local South African industry experts letting us in on the top five trends we can expect in the cocktail industry in 2019.
Simplification and in-house innovation
Overly complicated, sugar-forward cocktails have lost momentum and we will continue to see a resurgence of the classics – with modern twists. Infusions, fermentation, bitter and savoury flavours are becoming more and more popular.
Respected SA drinks writer, Leah van Deventer notes, “I’ve noticed more spicy flavours like onion, mild curries and Tonka beans, which, if done correctly, add exciting and unusual notes to cocktails. There’s also a trend towards mixing savoury and sweet.”
Denzel Heath of Mootee Bar explains that “recent years have shown an ever-increasing trend of homemade ingredients such as liqueurs and infusions”, and to this Angostura SA brand ambassador and Copper Monkey owner, George Hunter adds that “as far as drinks go, where bitters used to be a standard, it’s now becoming a more sought-after ingredient.”
Gin saw a lot of hype in 2018 and is still a massive trend as far as popularity is concerned.
Heath said, “The gin category is ever growing with new brands being launched every week. Hand-in-hand with every new gin brand comes a new suggested serve and a signature cocktail. The category shows no sign of serious immediate decline, so expect to see many more G&T menus and ‘gin-spired’ cocktail lists going into 2019”.
Parallel to the new wave of environmentally aware consumers the demand for conscious cocktails is growing. Most SA bars have started out small by reducing general and food waste, recycling, banning the use of plastic, using sustainable ingredients, and even reusing ingredients.
Heath explains, “Sustainability in bars has become more of a focal point for leading bar operators – not only from an environmental perspective, but also to ensure increased profit margins.”
Low to no ABV
The world has seen a steep rise in demand for decent low-ABV (alcohol by volume) and alcohol-free serves, largely spearheaded by the younger generation. Although an older mocktail classic – the Rock Shandy – one of Angostura aromatic bitters signature serves is still the first choice in South African restaurants and country clubs.
Rum-based drinks are to become the order of the day.
Van Deventer says that “internationally, strong tiki drinks are back in fashion, which goes in the entirely opposite direction of the gin and low-ABV trend, but it would be great if this trickled down to South Africa. This may well happen, as rum is definitely on the rise locally. As consumers begin to understand that rum can be as good as whisky, they’ll start demanding quality rum cocktails, made with fresh fruits, homemade syrups and tinctures and of course, good bitters”, says van Deventer.
Taking in to account all of the above, 2019 is likely to be a revolutionary time within the cocktail industry in terms of experimentation, fresh new approaches to craft ingredients and spirits, as well as ‘green’ thinking.
Featured Image: Miguel Maldonado, Unsplash