2017 bar trends from the industry’s biggest annual event
Article by USA TODAY July 25th 2017
It’s that time of year again. The steamy, summer soiree held in New Orleans, where bartenders, cocktail lovers and industry insiders gather to celebrate all things booze related. Tales of the Cocktail — a five-day event held each July — is chock full of lectures, parties, dinners and samplings, all in the name of what’s new in spirits. From vermouth-heavy martinis to fanciful tropical cocktails, here are seven standout trends from the 2017 gathering.
Gone are the days where a rinse of vermouth constituted the ideal martini. “This trend toward lower-proof and simpler styles of drinks has led people back to a vermouth-heavy martini,” says Robby Nelson, Plymouth Gin East Coast brand ambassador. “Also, the explosion of different vermouths, sherries and liqueurs on the market has greatly increased the bartender’s arsenal of ingredients when crafting these lower-proof martinis, and bartenders are excited about the martini in a way they haven’t been in a very long time.”
The whole “everything old is new again” adage rings true. Port cocktails were all the rage in the 1800s, and are making a serious comeback. Andy Seymour, owner of Liquid Productions and partner in Beverage Alcohol Resource, says that port drinks are showing up more on cocktail menus, which he attributes to a few factors, including the versatility and flavors that Port provides. “A dry white Port like Fonseca Siroco and a rosé Port such as Croft Pink bring refreshing crisp fruit notes to a drink, while tawny and ruby, and even late bottled vintage Ports, offer a progression of richer, more layered flavors. I think that as bartenders and drinkers start to understand Port better, there’s a growing excitement to play with it as an ingredient — especially with its rich history.”
Swap happy hour for aperitivo, which is the Italian ritual of pre-dinner drinking and snacking that’s intended to stimulate the appetite. The lower-alcohol trend has introduced cocktails that are perfect for session sipping including Campari, Aperol or lesser-known brands like Galliano L’Aperitivo; a blend of 50 ingredients including herbs and Mediterranean citrus such as orange, bergamot, bitter orange, chinotto, tangerine and grapefruit. When mixed with sparkling wine or seltzer, this offers the ideal summer drink.
Rosé in all forms
Rosé, the pink wine that seems to grace every Instagram feed come first day of spring, is branching out beyond the bottle. From the ever-popular frosé to rosé-based cocktails, rosé 40s and even rosé in a box — it’s the drink to have in your hand this summer.
Elevated tiki drinks
The tiki trend isn’t new, but tropical flavors like coconut and banana are everywhere — and getting elegant upgrades from high-end ingredients and splashes of sparkling.
White Negroni variations
The Negroni gets a makeover. Matteo Luxardo, a sixth-generation export manager, worked with his family to develop Bitter Bianco in response to bartenders’ need for a red bitter alternative. The clear rendition of the classic cocktail is infused with herbs like rhubarb, thyme and orange bitters, and can be ordered at cocktail bars across the country.
While sherry is often thought of as a sip of the past, the fortified wine is surging in popularity — most notably in the cocktail industry. From a fino to a ruby variety, sherry’s range of flavor profiles plays nicely with spirits of all sorts.