New Cocktail Trends
Certain to Take Off in 2018
There’s one thing you can say for certain about cocktail culture: It never gets old. Coast to coast, talented bartenders constantly seek inventive new ways to punch up classics as well as improve techniques for efficiency’s sake.
In 2018, get ready for an influx of new trends, a few of which have been utilized at some of the country’s top specialty cocktail bars. The Monarch, for example, has been wowing guests since debuting last summer in Kansas City, Mo.
At the helm of this ultra-glam watering hole is bar manager Brock Schulte, who’s credited as a major influence on the city’s cocktail culture scene. He’s garnered all sorts of accolades, from making it to the finals in the Diageo World Class Competition (2015) to winning the Paris of the Plains national bartending competition (2016).
For Schulte, whose expansive menu at The Monarch spans the globe, classic cocktails serve as a guide and inspiration for new elixirs. He’s a fan of the new crop of aged rums on the market, particularly when they’re applied in non-traditional fashion. He’s especially fond of the Barbados-based Foursquare rum.
“PEOPLE ARE FINALLY UNDERSTANDING THAT DRINKING PLAYS INTO A MEAL OR A NIGHT OUT INSTEAD OF A MEANS TO AN END. THIS IS A MORE MATURE, EDUCATED WAY TO APPROACHING ALCOHOL.”
- DANIEL SABO, BEVERAGE DIRECTOR THE HOTEL FIGUEROA (LOS ANGELES)
“It’s a whiskey drinker’s rum,” Schulte explains. “It’s barrel aged. It’s rich. It is dark. It’s a little bit higher proof. It’s easier to mix in a Manhattan or El Presidente-style cocktails.” He also features Foursquare in a few tiki-style cocktails on draft, including his version of the classic Planter’s Punch.
That’s already, of course, a potent drink with three different rums, but Schulte says adding the barrel-aged Foursquare gives it depth, thus modernizing it. The Monarch’s Planter’s Punch also contains offbeat ingredients, including house-made tepache (a fermented beverage made from the peel and rind of pineapples), banana mango-chile de arbol and Crane Brewing Seasonal Gose for “a bit of acidity,” explains Schulte.
As a dedicated coffee drinker, Schulte frequents Kansas City’s trendiest coffeehouses. Naturally, he’s onboard with the nitro (i.e., nitrogen infused) cold brew coffee movement that is all the rage with Millennials. “I feel personally that cold brew is the most popular buzzword surrounding coffee,” he says, adding that the trend inspired him to make his own creations—with booze. “I don’t like super acidic coffee and cold brews are typically less tannic and less acidic. They tend to have a fruitier mouthfeel and flavor. When you put it on nitro it is smooth and creamy and really, really good.”
The Monarch features several nitrogen-infused cocktails, which Schulte, which Schulte also describes as “rich and smooth and creamy.”
“The nitrogen bubbles are much like the texture of a Guinness, compared to a Miller High Life,” he describes. His favorite cold brew cocktail contains vanilla-infused Buffalo Trace bourbon, cold brew and a bitter cream float.
Additional Trends to Watch in 2018:
Cocktails on Draft
“I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them because any bar that understands their value and able to execute them well knows that you can get out so many drinks to so many people so much faster. And, as a bar manager, you can maintain that consistency and make sure that each of those drinks is perfect. Those new to the concept should do flat, stirred drinks before getting into anything that needs carbonation or agitation before serving. I highly recommend the Negroni, Manhattan, Boulevardier and Old Fashioned.”
– Daniel Sabo
“When we’re pumping through and working at such a high volume, it helps speed service while still maintaining that quality that I expect. It’s mainly for efficiency and getting the drinks out, but it also saves space so you don’t have all these individual spirits sitting in your well.”
– Ken Pritz, beverage director at River Roast (Chicago)
Low Alcohol By Volume (A.B.V.) Cocktails
“One of the things bartenders have struggled with concerning low A.B.V. cocktails is that people feel like they’re not getting their money’s worth. There’s this idea that there must be a higher-proof spirit as the base because customers want to ‘feel it.’ People are finally understanding that drinking plays into a meal or a night out instead of a means to an end. This is a more mature, educated way to approaching alcohol.”
– Daniel Sabo
“We are a family restaurant and we wanted to offer something the entire family could participate in. We launched flavored limeades, a traditional Brazilian non-alcoholic drink, in mango, strawberry and passion fruit. We add purees of strawberries, mangoes and passion fruits. They’re freshly made and non-carbonated.”
– Rodrigo Davila, director of wine and spirits for Texas de Brazil