Photo Credit: The Wickham, Brisbane

As consumers become more discerning about drink orders, pubs share the trends they’re noticing right now.

While cola is still the number one mixer for dark spirits, Brown-Forman brand ambassador Adam Smith has seen a rise in popularity of other mixer combinations.

“Consumers are watching what their drink is mixed with. Cola is still the preferred mixer of choice for many in the dark spirit category. However, premium soft drinks are on the rise, with soda, tonic and ginger beer continuing to increase in the mainstream space.

“Consumers are also exploring different flavour combinations, for example, Jack Daniel’s and ginger beer has seen a recent increase in popularity.”

A need for Negronis

While the Espresso Martini and the Aperol Spritz seem irreplaceable on any decent cocktail list, the resurgence of the Negroni has been noted at Tilbury Hotel in Sydney’s east.

“The Negroni has made a nice little comeback in the last year or so, with more people experimenting with different recipes, although most people can’t go past the classic,” observes Nick Weber, operations manager.

The Tilbury Hotel serves an All Australian Negroni, using Four Pillars gin, Regal Rogue vermouth, Adelaide Hills Distillery Italian Bitter Orange, orange peel and lemon myrtle.

All in for gin

Gin has had probably the biggest revival within spirits in the last five years – so much so that it is the main focus of the drinks offering at The Flour Factory in Perth. Venue manager Alex Richter sees no slow-down in the clear spirit’s popularity, as consumers are now looking to try boutique versions with unique botanicals – a trend that the venue is capitalising on.

“There has been a massive resurgence in the love of gin, fueled by the great quality gins coming from around the country, which are even making massive waves on an international scale. People are much more aware of what they are drinking, and the bartenders are expected to be more knowledgeable than ever, which is fantastic as it is growing and developing the industry as a whole.”

A popular activation at The Flour Factory’s bar is the Gin Wheel – where curious patrons ordering a gin and tonic simple serve can spin a wheel to see which of 24 quality gins will be used to create their drink.

Cocktails on tap

For high-turnover venues, cocktails on tap have become an offering that really works in saving time behind the bar – as Adam Gainsford, general manager of The Glenmore in Sydney can attest to.

“We currently have a great espresso martini on tap, which works well with our rooftop’s high turnover environment. It allows us to continue to provide consistent quality product, without slowing service down. We also have a second tap that we rotate seasonally – it always goes well as the staff love to push their own creations.

“Every high turnover venue should have one, but it shouldn’t dominate the bar, just complement it.”

A stiff drink

While lower-alcohol drinks like the spritz have been welcomed by pub patrons over the last two years, at The Wickham in Brisbane, patrons are returning to stronger drinks as well.

“The Spritz seems to not be as popular as it has been during the cooler months. We’ve seen drinks that are a little stronger, like Long Island Iced Tea, replace them in popularity,” states operations manager Cory Franklin.

Classics like Southsides and Margaritas are also very popular at the venue.

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