Cocktail trends are evolving with creative twists, riffs and flashes of genius that may or may not make the mainstream… beetroot Margarita anyone?
Here are five cocktail trends we can expect this year, according to Angostura aromatic bitters:
Arguably the drink of this summer, the Negroni Sbagliato became an instant TikTok sensation in October 2022 when House of Dragon star, Emma D’Arcy, mentioned it as a favourite drink in a short HBO promotional clip.
Sbagliato means ‘mistaken’ in Italian; the playful cocktail replaces the classic Negroni’s gin with prosecco, adding a lightness to the bitter and sophisticated vermouth and campari combo.
The Mediterranean aperitivo tradition is having a moment, highlighting fresh and light cocktails ideal for afternoon sipping and pre-dinner appetisers, and evoking sun-drenched terraces and Italian piazzas. We’re talking creative spritzes that go way beyond the Aperol Spritz that sparked the trend - and the Negroni, both classic and sbagliato features large on this list.
The classics hold strong. According to consumer trend reports, all age groups are experiencing nostalgia for the stalwarts of the past that inspire a retro buzz: dry Martinis, whether shaken or stirred; straightforward Highballs; and of course the easy-to-love Old Fashioned.
Simple enough to make at home, or elevated by a bartender with the occasional twist, these classics centre around top-quality spirits (minus umbrellas and tiki-inspired frills). Classic sours also make the retro hitlist: Margaritas, Sidecars and Whiskey Sours.
The drive towards sustainability and local flavours continues to show up in our bars as well as our fine-dining establishments.
Cooking up home-made cordials and foraging for wild ingredients results in showstopping combinations, as at a notable recent collab between two World’s 50 Best Bars Where a week spent together foraging and exploring the local landscapes culminated in a cocktail-pairing lunch with outside-the-box cocktails featuring ingredients such as kelp, beetroot, plum, chamomile and fynbos.
While this was a one-off event, look out for local-is-lekker twists that turn a global classic into something with a truly South African flavour.
Besides driving the sustainability focus, the mindful consumption mindset demands bars up their game on low or no-alcohol cocktail offerings.
The mocktail is no longer something to mock. Popular culture movements such as Dry January, OcSober, or just wanting to drive home sober after a night out while still having fun, means that alcohol-free cocktails are now de rigueur on the menu, and becoming as complex and thoughtful as their more spirited siblings.
No longer just glorified fruit juice concoctions, expect to find sophisticated recipes that include a new breed of non- or low-alcoholic spirits balanced aromatic bitters, among other spicy highlights.
Cheers to a new year of sensational sipping!