Lite, Low-cal and all-round healthiness – We aren’t sure about this one, but the world wants what it wants. Diageo innovation manager Joe Spence puts it down to “macro trends of health and well-being leading to more innovation, beyond just zero sugar”. Expect more organic ingredients, gluten-free beers and sugar-free syrups to flood the market, and look out for calorie counts on cocktail lists.

Increased competition – This is great for everyone. More competition means business is healthy and consumers have a plethora of choices before them. It’s not just new bars and more hybrid venues, but better bars with higher quality food and greater selections of premium drink offerings. Open a bar within a pub like The Whisky Room at the Clock Hotel, or offer gourmet hotdogs on Tuesdays- anything to stay ahead of the pack.

Smoked Cocktails – Smoke, smoke and more smoke. For years, smoky drinks were the sole domain of those Islay whiskies. But modern classic smoky cocktails like The Penicillin, along with mezcal-based mixed drinks, are increasingly taking bars around the world by storm. Highland Park single malt is now supplying bars with ‘smoking chambers’ – contraptions for “venues that are interested in experimenting with peat smoke in their cocktail offering”.

Botanicals – Source your goods, go walk about, get lost in the forest, or the park at least. Use foraged ingredients as a garnish, or muddle them in with the perfectly selected spirit. Botanicals aren’t restricted to gin; they can be house made tinctures, bitters and tonics. Innovator Joe Spence reckons you can’t undersell “the mix of authentic flavours created by botanicals”.

Tea – This will be the year of the tea cocktail. It’s already popping up everywhere from the new Absolut Craft range of flavoured vodkas to the menus of specialist bars. Christophe Lehoux from Sydney’s Pocket Bar is among the converted, recognising that, unlike coffee, “it is a versatile base for all sorts of cocktails – the variety of teas are endless”. Hamish Goonetilleke of G&Tea recommends thinking outside the box with “chamomile ice and tea washes, as well as infusions”.

Pay particular attention to Kombucha teas, already appearing across the café scene. Expect to see many house made varieties appear on cocktail lists across the nation as it is a “versatile product that can easily be used as a standalone or a base mixer for cocktails”.

For more see part 3…

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