The year has only just started, but cocktail fans are already looking for the next big thing. We indulged in Manhattans and maraschino cherries almost all of last year (seriously, was there any garnish you saw more?), so what’s in store, or rather behind the bar, for 2015?
Quality over quirkiness, says Brian Avenius, Brand Director at Brugal Rum. “Overall, we’re seeing movement, at least at premium accounts, toward more sophisticated, balanced cocktails that aren’t drowning in sugar and tropical, processed juice.” Specifically, he sees an increase in the popularity of rum. “Tiki cocktails certainly enjoyed a boost recently, and the Mojito has continued to be a mainstay, but aside from that, rum didn’t receive what I would say is a fair share of the classic cocktail boom at first.” Mixologists are starting to appreciate rum, not just for its taste and diversity, but for its “authenticity, heritage, provenance, and impressive quality stories.” There is a resurgence of classic cocktails like the daiquiri, too. “Not the kind that comes out of a slushie machine. It’s got three ingredients: premium rum, simple syrup, and fresh lime. Its simplicity makes it a great platform for personalization, and we’re seeing bartenders have a lot of fun incorporating fresh ingredients to give it a seasonal twist.”
Bret Thorn of Nation’s Restaurant News is predicting another big year for IPAs. “2014 was the year of the IPA, and 2015 is looking to be the second year of the IPA. According to retail scan data reported by the Craft Brewers Association, IPA sales have risen 49 percent in dollar terms and now account for 23 percent of off-premise beer sales.”
Wine lovers will be toasting to the yearlong rosé rush and cheaper-than-ever malbec. Here is a look at what we can expect to be drinking in 2015.
Thank cocktail innovators like Think Food Group’s Juan Coronado for the aged cocktail trend. He’s taken to aging Scotch cocktails in things like leather for a “velvet-like and rich sensation that is incredible.” Expect cocktails like the Negroni to get the leather treatment, too. In London, hotspot bars like Silk & Grain have dedicated an entire cocktail list to drinks that have been aged or made with a spirit that has been, like rum matured in oak barrels.
Mezcal makes the move up the ladder from moonshine to artisanal this year. New Mexico-based artist Ron Cooper's Del Maguey mezcals started the trend years back. New energy in the segment has arisen more recently on the West Coast, with one San Francisco bar manager explaining that “if you don’t have mescal, you’re not really a bar,” and it has made its way east. The slow takeover includes handcrafted batches with tasting notes that rival a winemaker's any day. (Tobola mezcal, made from a variety of agave grown at high altitudes and bottled by several producers, is one to watch.)