While there are many exciting areas of the culinary world, there isn’t one more exciting, universally appealing or groundbreaking than cocktails. Creating cocktails is an art and culinary specialty all its own even to the point of where mixologists are now being referred to as “cocktail chefs”. Join us as we shake, blend and juice our way through the trends, flavors and hot establishments in the world of cocktails.
Are culinary trends reflected in the cocktail glass or does the cocktail glass spill over into the culinary world? The lines between these two areas continue to blur and the trends highlighted below are seen in cocktail and culinary.
A new twist on “Farm to Table” has locavores and gourmands celebrating with newfangled cocktails marrying produce (sometimes locally grown) and with craft spirits. The original garden in a glass brunch classic, the Bloody Mary, is not being replaced; it’s gaining some cousins as mixologists plant their own cocktail gardens and experiment with new herb based libations. Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York boasts a Frozen Yellow Mary, made with homegrown jalapeños, vodka and cubes of frozen yellow-tomato juice. Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, Thai basil, beets, celery among others are being used as garnishes, in muddles and for infused syrups, infused alcohols and smashes. Let’s face it, gardens aren’t just for cooking anymore.
•Seattle is at the forefront of the garden to glass movement since they have year round produce and more craft distilleries than any state in the U.S. (Read more in the full report! Download it here.)
•New York’s Apotheke was the first bar to enforce a strict farm-to-glass philosophy and takes it one step further by creating prescriptive drinks to cure whatever ails. Choose from stimulant, stress reliever, health and beauty among others and be treated to cocktails mixed with herbs grown locally or from their rooftop garden.
The classic cocktail is back but certainly has been shaken up a bit, so to speak. Bars across the country are saluting and reviving the cocktails of the 1950’s and elevating them to the next level. Try an updated Old Fashioned like the Oaxaca Old Fashioned at NYC’s Mayahuel for a mescal, chocolate mole riff. Or the next time you’re at Sunday brunch, consider a Bloody Roman, made with dark beer, tomatoes, chopped chilies and oysters. Finally, for those who came of age in the 80’s, the D.C. bar, the Majestic mixes up and updates 80’s classics like the Electric Lemonade or the Tom Collins. The Electric Lemonade bears no resemblance to its namesake except in color. This version features bourbon and a house-made sour blend of fresh-squeezed citrus, and a touch of pimento dram (a traditional Jamaican herbal liqueur with a rum base and allspice taste).
Forget the mug – coffees and teas are making their way into cocktail glasses everywhere as mixologists use these 7am favorites as flavors for evening cocktails. Green tea, earl gray tea or chamomile tea and savory chocolate-nutty-fruit nuanced coffees partner with whiskeys, rums or grappa. These are not your typical, run-of-the mill Irish coffees.
Some experts feel that the potential for teas in cocktails is greater than coffee, as tea is more subtle in flavor and can float in the background a little easier. Nevertheless, we have some favorites to share:
•Try a Shoeless Joe as seen in Bon Appetit, which starts with a homemade black cherry syrup, some strong coffee, club soda, and lime. If this doesn’t have you running some bases, we don’t know what will.
•For a trend worthy tea cocktail, try the NYC SoHo House’s Tea & Flowers which blends gin, elderflower liquor, citron and jasmine teas, lemon juice, soda water and simple syrup.
•Finally, we don’t want to forget the classic tea and lemonade pairing in honor of the golf great. For a twist, add a little tea infused vodka and make it a Tipsy Palmer. (And then go play nine holes.)
Bitter is to cocktails what umami is to culinary. Period. You can’t peruse a craft cocktail menu in a bar worth its salt without coming across one if not three bitters laced concoctions. And with its popularity comes new bitters flavors like barbecue, Aztec chocolate and creole to flavor Old-Fashioneds, Manhattans and Negronis. We expect to see more introductions and flavor variations in this category.
Running a close second to bitters in popularity but equally as interesting are shrubs. These drinkable vinegars are becoming bases for non-alcoholic “sodas”, and when paired with fruit flavors make a mean cocktail. Blackberry peppercorn, strawberry balsamic, watermelon mint, and blueberry lavender are just a few flavor combos that have cocktail chefs inspired.
Meet the savory cocktail, a concept many mixologists consider trendsetting in their business but others consider being the “unicorn in cocktail land.”1 Challenging for consumers to sometimes wrap their hands around unless it’s called Bloody Mary, the savory cocktail is something that many mixologists consider the Holy Grail. Creative cocktail chefs are experimenting with dashi, powdered foie gras, fish sauce, shiitake mushrooms and even fat to bring balance to citrus and add excitement to their menus. Others start with a savory based spirit like gin or aquavit and layer with vegetables or smoked salt.
Cocktails have become flavors in their own right and have made their way into almost every category. Stroll almost any aisle of a grocer or specialty food store and you will come across a product inspired by a cocktail. Pina Colada flavored sparkling water, Strawberry Daiquiri candy, Cosmopolitan-inspired berry yogurt and Margarita Potato Chips are just a few examples of applications recently inspired by the flavors from cocktails. (And this is a trend we expect to only grow.)
Cocktails Growing On The Menu:
As Seen Online
At The Wayland in NY, try a Garden Variety Margarita with tequila, lime, ginger, and kale juice. Or visit the Rabbit Hole in Minneapolis for a Fat Taco, a stirred margarita with a fat washed-tequila and muddled cilantro.
Step aside, food blogs. Cocktail and mixology blogs are bringing their creativity, techniques and ingredient finds to inspire the wannabe and professional cocktail chef. Here are a few we think shouldn’t be missed:
Chosen by Saveur as the “Readers’ Choice Best Cocktail Blog for 2014”, Bit By A Fox was founded by Prairie Rose, a restaurant professional, whose obsession with cocktails led to formal education through the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in NYC. “Prairie Rose welcomes others possessed by the spirit to see the world through her own booze colored glasses.”
Promising to “turn bartenders and mixologists into world class mixologists & drink creators3,” A Bar Above has everything one needs to submerge himself into the cocktail world. Complete with instructional videos, podcasts, courses and recipes, this blog is a must for the spirit consumed.
FONA CAN HELP!
Let FONA’s beverage experts translate these trends into beverage ideas for your brand. We can help you with concept and flavor pipeline development, ideation, consumer studies and white space analysis to pinpoint opportunities in the market. Our flavorists and product development experts are also at your service to help meet the labeling and flavor profile needs for your products to capitalize on this consumer trend. We understand how to mesh the complexities of flavor with your brand development, technical requirements and regulatory needs to deliver a complete taste solution. From concept to manufacturing, we’re here every step of the way. Contact our Sales Service Department at 630.578.8600 to request a flavor sample or visit www.fona.com.
From concept to manufacturing, we’re here every step of the way. Contact our Sales Service Department at 630.578.8600 to request a flavor sample or visit www.fona.com.