The past few years have been something of a strange time for many industries. However, there are few instances where this strangeness might have been felt more keenly than the hospitality businesses people know and love. Various closures, modifications, or issues with supply chains have become a problem for some time, and consumers want to latch on to anything exciting that can return some of the feeling of normalcy to their favorite activities.
Cocktail trends are one of these things, and each year can bring an assortment of both brand new drinks and updated retro drinks back to bars and restaurants. Although predictions in this area can be hard to make, we’ll list a few of the ones you should expect to see in 2022. If you want to be a good bartender, it is worth it to stay on top of what kinds of things are trending in the drinks world. You’ll be ready for any guest looking for a popular mix, and you can suggest new pairings as well.
Many cocktails tend to be relatively complex affairs, having multiple types of drinks in very exact quantities. All of this would be mixed to perfection by a skilled bartender or similar artisan. As if seeking some stability, however, many consumers appear to be going for simpler drinks that are easier to understand. Three or four seems to be the maximum number of desired ingredients for many people, and drinks with even more ingredients seem to be less likely to be ordered and enjoyed. Indeed, if the ingredients are too unfamiliar to the area or clientele, several drinks might languish in obscurity this year. Additionally, the simple nature of some of these cocktails makes it easier for people to replicate their own varieties at home.
On a related note, people also want classic drinks with a twist. Retro cocktails have staying power for a reason, but patrons are still looking for an extra edge on some of the cocktails that they know and love. One of the main ways this might come about is through the use of locally sourced ingredients. Different regions may add slightly varied tastes to some of the basics you know and love, and this can give fresh, bold hints to the drinks you’ve enjoyed for years.
Improvements To Alcohol-Free Beverages
Many people enjoy mixed cocktails for the surprising, intricate flavors alone. They may have no desire to consume alcohol, or they may prefer that their drinks have just a few hints of alcohol in them. This is where new cocktails that are low in alcohol content, or are even devoid of it entirely, have come into play. As an entire industry, alcohol-free drinks don’t come close to the popularity of their spirited counterparts, but adding more of these to the cocktail lineup for 2022 can only help to increase the diverse beverage offerings available to patrons. Indeed, it could even be a good way to foster more social gatherings that could include various bars as the centerpieces of local communities, and both kinds of drinks can be had and enjoyed by all.
Health and Fitness
Drinks tend to be all about the taste, but that notion seems to be changing slowly. With recent innovations in how cocktails are made and a desire to reach a wider audience, you might see more beverages that offer a boost to your health. While this has been the province of things like shakes in the past, the opportunity to create cocktails with many healthy ingredients is ripe. Taste is still a primary concern, but this opens a whole new avenue for experimentation with how different ingredients might offer more than just a little kick of alcohol. You may even see drinks that can offer you the best of both worlds, with some natural, healthy ingredients pairing up well with some alcohols. Because of all this, you can expect to see a greater variety of vegetables or fruits in more cocktails this year, too.
Less Sugar and Drier Balances
It’s no secret that many cocktails on the menu tend to be sweet. This is all well and good, but many patrons seem to be moving toward mixed drinks that have low sugar contents. In turn, this is leading to trends that exemplify the qualities of drier drinks. There is still a great market for something sweet on the cocktail menus, but you’ll find an increasing number of cocktails that aim to please all palettes by incorporating what we might define as herbaceous ingredients into the mixtures. Some retro classics, such as the Aperol spritz, have already begun to exhibit some of these changes, and there should be more to come as the year progresses.
Bitterness Is Desirable
Following a similar path, it seems that clientele at various establishments are starting to prefer drinks that will leave them with quite the bitter aftertaste. While we can speculate as to why this is, it may have something to do with how extreme bitter drinks tend to be on the scale of flavors. A bitter mix should offer a nice kick to start the evening, and it can kick-start the system at the same time. This provides consumers with a nice rush along with a great new taste. It is possible that all of this stems from the fact that bitter ingredients tend to signify that they are risky for human consumption in the wild, but it definitely points to a trend in cocktails for 2022. Seeking a bit of excitement, there’s a growing crowd that wants to enjoy a nice mix of ingredients that offers that extreme taste.
Bubble Time Is All the Time
Most people tend to think of bubbly, airy drinks as those you should only consume at certain times of the day or on particular occasions. That trend does seem to be changing a bit, and consumers are happy to go for something light and bubbly no matter when they’re taking a sip. This offers them a break from more traditional spirits like wine, and the nature of the bubbly drinks might act as a sort of pick-me-up that gets things going. Additionally, this experimentation with bubbly drinks offers a new path for tinkering with ingredients ranging from gin or brandy to different kinds of rum, all mixed with sparkling wine for a great effect.
Drink and Food Pairings
It’s never been uncommon to pair some drinks with particular foods, but recent years have seen a rise in trying to mix certain cocktails with particular dishes, too. As another way to expand their markets, many venues offer signature mixed drinks that they can recommend with small plates of snacks. Some patrons can even go for variety plates that feature several food items, and they can do so as they work their way through an establishment’s list of recommended cocktails. This brings yet another way for people to enjoy a wide range of ingredients. Further, it may keep clients enjoying the atmospheres of their favorite hangout spots longer than if they just ordered a drink or two alone.
Tequila Is Expanding
Perhaps due to challenges with supply, people who enjoy tequila regularly are starting to branch out and try different combinations of it as a way to keep getting the drink they love. Whatever the case may be, the popularity of this beverage seems to be growing, and even patrons who might prefer other kinds of drinks are starting to be bold and try more tequila. Additionally, the process for making the drink is so varied that different brands or mixtures will have wildly differing tastes or notes. People can enjoy lighter tequilas, and they can finish things off with those that have more of a gritty, mineral-like taste instead. With this newfound popularity comes new ways of incorporating it into mixes, or changing up how it sits on the tongue.
Ice May Lead the Way
Cocktails are mostly about ingredients, but it wouldn’t be out of line to consider ice as one of those key components. Many cocktails rely on being chilled to get the full effects of the tastes they offer. Some mixologists are starting to see a demand for ice that is prepared differently, giving patrons a few options on just how they would like to keep their favorite drinks cold. Colorful ice is on the rise, with blue being a notable star here. It is possible that we’ll see blued ice overtake the more traditional clear kind as 2022’s cocktail trends continue.
Trends can change quickly. However, if you’re looking to be a great, knowledgeable bartender who is trusted by many patrons to make the perfect alcoholic drink, it is imperative that you stay updated on what is happening in the world of mixes. Our list above can show you some of the main things that seem to be growing in popularity. Some of them show no signs of slowing down, and they could continue well into the next year and beyond.