Top 5 Cocktail Trends of 2018

Cocktails at happy hour

Hip drinkers are like the explorers of centuries past – without the pikes, helmets, and penchant for finding gold in new and undiscovered countries.

They’re still searching for a fountain of youth, though – or at least, a fountain of flavor!

And while you can still find exotic drinks at hip, divey tiki bars, and they’re in ample supply, this year’s cocktail trends are more about mind expansion, as opposed to geographical exploration. As much as we hate to admit it, not every drink has to include sake.

So, is a drink just a drink – or something more? Does every cocktail have to produce waste? Does a cocktail even need booze to be called a cocktail?

Get the answers to these questions – and more – below. We’ll be taking a look at five of the most intriguing and interesting cocktail trends that are making waves in the industry, and changing how we think about cocktails. Interested? Whether you’re in the bar business, or just a lover of cocktail culture, you’re sure to learn a thing or two. Let’s get into it.

Doing Gin Well

Let’s start slow. We don’t want to blow your mind from the very start, after all. Admittedly, not everyone loves gin. While the distinctive aroma of juniper berries is irresistible to some, others turn their nose up at it – claiming it has a licorice-like, medicinal flavor. (We’re definitely part of the first group!)

You might compare gin to a herb like cilantro – it’s easily just as divisive. You either love it or hate it. It’s rare to find someone in-between. However, there is evidence that suggests that gin is a discerning person’s drink – and that those who drink gin regularly may be sexier than your typical IPA-drinking craft beer snobs, or fruity rum drinkers. Hey, we didn’t say it – the study did!

But gin is incredibly popular this year. The world of craft spirits is still lagging behind the world of craft beer, but is quickly gaining speed. And, while most craft spirit producers focused on bourbon and whiskeys in years past, gin is becoming a more popular choice.

Why? Because it’s pretty easy to make, first of all. Gin is not aged, so there are no long production times, and you can add just about any botanical combination to gin, as long as you maintain a base of juniper berries. This means that the potential for innovation and exploration is nearly limitless – and that’s sexy!

So grab yourself a G&T, toss on some Snoop Dogg and mix up a gin and juice, or drink it straight – there’s no wrong way to enjoy this hot cocktail trend.

Lower Alcohol and Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

Not all alcoholic drinks require alcohol. Put your pitchforks away! Yes, we know it sounds like sacrilege, but it’s true. Some cocktails are moving away from hard spirits – and these types of cocktails tend to pair very well with meals.

This is because the lower alcohol content means you can try more than just one cocktail – and the flavor of a cocktail that is not made from spirits is more smooth and mild. Look at the huge surge in the popularity of the mimosa for proof. It’s hard to imagine sipping a half-dozen pina coladas at brunch – but with mimosas, that’s an everyday activity! Other examples would be drinks like the michelada and other beer-based cocktails.

But that’s not all. Some bars are experimenting with cocktails that don’t just contain no hard liquor – but contain no booze at all. These shockingly accurate “mocktails” use traditional, high-quality ingredients to provide drinkers with a unique flavor experience – without the typical side effect of drinking 4+ cocktails, which usually involves trying to dance on the bar, and putting ‘80s hits on the jukebox, and singing along at the top of your lungs.

Innovation comes in many forms – and while the idea of booze-less cocktails may cause some to shake their Appletini glasses in rage, other non-drinkers (or designated drivers) may welcome this new trend.

Drink Your Dessert

Not concerned about calories – or combining liquor with dairy? Then we’ve got the cocktail trend for you. Adult milkshakes are up-and-coming in the bar industry – and we think they’re going to make a big impact.

Sure, the Mudslide and other dessert-like cocktails have been around for a while, but it’s been rare to see an actual milkshake or dessert that integrates a large volume of alcohol – until now.

And the best part about this trend is that adult milkshakes can come in a limitless number of flavors – just like desserts. Do Oreos make you go weak in the knees? Go wild! Peanut butter lover? Drink up, buttercup. Looking for ooey, gooey fudge and caramel? You’ve got it!

They may not be for those who are counting calories – or who are driving home – but alcoholic milkshakes could just be the next big thing, particularly if they focus on using locally-sourced ingredients and high-quality ice cream and liquor.

Relax Your Tastebuds With CBD

If the idea of dessert milkshakes didn’t give you the munchies already, our next trend will – CBD!

CBD oil is a marijuana and hemp-derived product that has remarkable healing properties, and is quickly becoming a popular alternative to pharmaceuticals.

It’s become a fad in many different industries – including cooking and cocktail mixing. CBD oils can have many different flavors and interact with multiple ingredients, but the thing that truly units these cocktails is their ability to help the drinker relax, and create a smoother buzz.

Sustainability

Sustainable cocktails are the final trend on our list. If you can drink – and save the world at the same time – why wouldn’t you?

In practice, this could mean not using straws, sourcing ingredients locally, or using items that typically go to waste – like zested oranges, fruit pulp, mint stems, and other such typically wasted items.

Innovation combined with altruism? Who could say no?

Cocktail Trends May Come and Go…

These cocktail trends may not be as hot come 2019, so it’s best to jump on them now. But even if they disappear, you can make sure to stay up-to-date on the next trends by joining our loyalty program.

You’ll get cash back, special promotions, and most importantly, access to exclusive tastings. Cheers!