In the land of drinks, things can come and go in a flash. One minute, the world is enjoying a Negroni; the next they’ve moved on to Virginia wine. It can be tough to keep up, we know, but we’re fairly up to speed with the industry. And we’re that way thanks to chatting up those in the know, early and often.
So, with 2022 still unfolding, what should we expect to see from the perspective of the barstool? Blue drinks? More non-alcoholic beer options? The continued rise of spirits like cognac and sherry? Well, there’s no fun in giving away the entire ending but we have looked at the crystal ball and come away with some key takeaways you can bet on bar-wise this year.
Let’s begin with flavored whiskies, something we saw surge of in 2021, with no signs of slowing this year. Expect to see more house infusions at your favorite watering holes and new releases, well beyond the buzzed-about ones like peanut butter. With a long list of complementary flavors, fruit-driven to nutty, we’re set to see some interesting releases.
We also foresee agave spirits like mezcal and tequila continuing to gain steam, likely less so in the celebrity-run realm and more so in the down-to-earth realm. Consumers are drinking brands they believe in more and will likely be decreasingly swayed by whatever an NBA star is hocking or some canned wine an actor is filling his Instagram feed with. Watch out for a true awakening with mezcal, especially, and for pop culture to treat it with more nuance and reverence than we do now (you know, above and beyond the stereotypical “oh, the smoky kind of tequila”).
Christopher Amirault is the head mixologist at luxury hotel The Maybourne in Beverly Hills. There, an impressive drinks program includes lovely resort cocktails like the Tikki Tea, a mix of green-tea-infused mezcal, citrus, coconut, and yuzu. He believes the near future is all about looking out for the environment and being portable. “Most bars are exploring ways in which they can continue to make their methods of operation more sustainable while simultaneously capitalizing on-to-go methods like ready-to-drink,” Amirault says.
Over in Hawaii, Jim Lunchick is a mixologist at Merriman’s. He sees the tiki trend going strong, with the corresponding ingredients to keep it moving. “Get aboard the falernum train,” he advises. “In 2022, mixologists will continue to expand on the homemade mixers and syrups that reinvigorate the classics. Specifically, I anticipate syrup heads to start making their own version of falernum.”
Ice is an oft-overlooked component of the cocktail kingdom, but Lunchick believes that’s about to change, with ice potentially even soon stealing the show. “Get ready to be offered four different ice options with your cocktail,” he says. “Just be sure you don’t forget your cocktail mitten.” He also believes in blue this year, from blue sustainable paper straws to gin and even blue ice. “Blue is the new clear when it comes to cocktail trends,” he adds.
At the Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club in Honolulu, Christian Taibi is the bar manager at resident watering hole Mahina & Sun’s. He believes we’ll all be craving togetherness again, especially as the pandemic subsides. “How you connect with your guests will be just as important as what’s in their glass,” he says. “The desire to be around people and to mix and mingle will take priority. The art of conversation will take precedent over the art of mixology.”
Of course, there will be drinks. Taibi thinks what’s old will be new again. “We’ll see a continued resurgence, and even improvement, on retro classics like the cosmopolitan and the crowd-pleasing rusty nails,” he says. “People want nostalgia and yearn for ‘the ways things were,’ but want a light twist on them. Retro cocktails will definitely become even more incredibly relevant.”
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