Everything has trends – whether you’re talking fashion, diet or, my favorite, drink. We have
all seen the various cocktail trends through the years: Sugary drinks in the 1980s, Cosmos in the 1990s, Prohibition throwbacks in 2000s, classics in the 2010s. But what dictates what’s in your glass? Here are three reasons why you’re drinking what you’re drinking…
Europe: As with fashion, Europeans are really the trendsetters in the world. Yes, America has its cool points, but we turn to our friends in Paris, London, Berlin and other chic cities to see what’s coming down the pipeline. Gin is a perfect example. Gin Bars are taking Europe by storm, especially in Spain, where it’s about the aromas and tonics (like Fever Tree). While this is a pretty simple concept, it’s revolutionary as this allows the consumer to play with his or her senses and have an experience, not just a cocktail. American mixologists know gin is where it’s at, but U.S. consumers are a bit slow to get on the bandwagon. They’ll get there eventually, so mark my written word: this time next year, everyone will be drinking gin. The caveat to this? While Europeans might be setting the trends, we have Master Mixologist Charles Joly: he’s the American who just won the World’s Best Bartender. There’s hope for us yet.
Mixolgists: Speaking of mixologists… You might have first heard of the Cosmopolitan cocktail from Sex & the City. But lo and behold, mixologists came up with it… long before the show even hit HBO. So, yeah, it’s pretty obvious who leads the trends. Mixologists across the country are the forefathers of what’s what in the cocktail world. They dictate what’s next, either by what their clientele is after or by what the main cities are pushing; and by main cocktail cities, I mean New York and San Francisco. With more organization, like the United States Bartenders’ Guild chapters, or getting together for Tales of the Cocktail, mixologists are speaking and talking about what they’re seeing: they’re traveling and experiencing new flavors and tastes, which eventually makes its way into the cocktails at their bars – these guys have built in focus groups where they work and it’s a living lab!
Pop Culture & Media: And who picks up on what mixologists are mixing? Pop Culture and media. Whether you’re talking about magazines or television, these are the carrier pigeons getting the information from the top cities and putting it into glasses across the country. Most of the U.S. returned to whisky in recent years due to watching Mad Men. Of course, there are more and more great bars and mixologists making headway between the two coasts (Charles Joly for one hails from Chicago), and for that, we’re grateful to see variety hitting the county. But the messages are truly sent in the form of the moving picture or the written word. Take Imbibe Magazine or Bon Appetit – these are magazines that look at the trends happening across the country and report on them. And for that, we’re grateful!
So now that we see where these trends come from and who’s behind them, what will be next up in our glass? Well, in my 2014 cocktail predictions, I said fun, 1970s cocktails were on the rise… sadly, the fad didn’t quite take off this summer. Right now, it’s about fresh ingredients and simple pleasures in your glass. Although, it is just 2014… we have six more years of this decade, so really only time will tell what’s coming up. Cheers!