Spring Cocktail Trends to Watch For
Spring is a time for renewal. That means the inaugural changing of the menu. Winter spices fall way to bright, floral flavors and fresh herbs. Here are the spring cocktail trends to watch for this year.
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Floral Flavor Cocktails
With everything in bloom, it’s no surprise that floral flavors are a major ingredient-du-jour. These types of flavors and ingredients have been a significant player in bar menus for a while as bars and restaurants become more seasonal with their offerings. While there are always ways to involve some aspect of floral flavors in cocktails, look for items that are specific to the spring season.
For example, St Germain should always be at hand to add a pop of elderflower to a drink but consider exploring floral-infused gins like Glendalough Gin Rose, Hendrick's Flora Adora, or Empress 1908 for an ethereal explosion of indigo to your drinks.
Additionally, chamomile, lavender and hibiscus are all common players on spring menus. These light, aromatic flavors can be infused in-house in clear spirits like vodka, gin or even in vermouth (or made into syrups) to pair naturally with refreshing spring cocktails.
How to Make it Happen:
As we said, floral flavors pair very well with most traditional spring cocktails. Lavender or Rosewater can be infused into Bellinis or other bubbly cocktails for a fresh, light take on classic spring sippers. These floral components create a brightness that provides sweet flavor without making drinks into sugar bombs, something customers will surely be looking for. For something even simpler, Jack Rudy Cocktail Company produces an Elderflower tonic that easily levels up the standard G&T.
And don't forget what may already exist in your mis. Turn a Daiquiri on its head with fresh mint or lean into a Whiskey Smash. Basil pairs with just about anything. And don't be afraid to explore more savory herbs like sage, thyme and rosemary to quickly infuse in cocktails and satisfy your guests.
No- and Low-ABV Cocktails
It’s springtime. People want to sit outside and leisurely pass the time over a few drinks. In recent years, no- and low-ABV beers have risen to prominence, and now, no- and low-ABV cocktails here, too. These refreshingly light and sessional beverages appeal to everyone: from the abstinent to the sober curious to those with a huge presentation the next morning but don't want to miss out on an evening with friends.
How to Make it Happen:
These are simple enough. Cut the booze. For low-ABV cocktails, formulate them around liqueurs, wine, or champagne instead of hard spirits. For a simple example, consider a St. Germain Fizz. Just a splash of St Germain topped off with lemon and club soda makes for a pleasantly light drink that’s easy to session. Vermouth and Apertivos are equally great choices.
Not only do these ‘less is more’ cocktails encourage people to keep ordering, but they create significantly lower pour costs which equate to higher profit margins! What’s not to love?
Look to the growing list of zero-ABV spirits on the market for zero-proof cocktails. Alternatives to gin, tequila, whiskey and wine are all options for bars and restaurants to consider adding to their shelves. Even premade, bottled cocktails such as St. Agrestis Phony Negroni are perfect options for the NA section of a spring cocktail menu.
Fermentation and probiotics have been huge on food menus in recent years. But recently, they’ve begun to spill over onto cocktail menus everywhere. Most notably, kombucha is having its moment in the world of cocktails, seemingly taking over soda for something sweet and bubbly. In fact, hard kombucha has seen huge growth over the past year. It’s become a direct competitor in the canned cocktail market and shows no signs of slowing down.
How to Make it Happen:
Aside from adding hard kombucha to your inventory list, we suggest exploring kombucha cocktails. These light, bubbly drinks pair well with warm weather and give health-conscious patrons something refreshing to drink. Be sure to keep it simple, though. If someone orders a kombucha cocktail, they probably want to taste the kombucha itself. Don’t get too messy. After all, the more you put into that drink, the more it’s going to cost you to make (from a labor perspective, as well as the simple ingredient costs).
Highballs are incredibly versatile. It’s no surprise that they’re experiencing such a revitalization. The simple combination of booze and soda leaves near-endless room for variety and is a fantastic platform for some savvy trend-stacking. Bartenders can include any spirit they wish in a highball, from aged rum to vodka or whiskey. Alongside that, the options are endless where the soda is concerned.
How to Make it Happen:
Although the perfect highball is an art in its own right, any semi-capable bartender could craft a delicious highball with their eyes closed. Integrating a highball into your spring menu is a no-brainer. We suggest looking at the highball as a ‘canvas’ that allows you to play with other ingredients. Got some fresh thyme? You’ve got a new highball. Perhaps you want to integrate the floral trend into your menu. Consider how hibiscus can play a part in a unique take on a highball.
Kegged cocktails are an oft-maligned way of serving drinks. But, like anything currently considered ‘uncool,’ it’s only a matter of time before kegged cocktails are the hot new thing. And although they are not exactly new (festivals and events are filled with batched cocktails), the kegged cocktail is finding its place in the craft cocktail scene.
Speed of service aside, there are numerous benefits to pre-batched cocktails. They expedite inventory and stock taking, reduce waste, and even save on ice and other energy-consuming products. The argument against kegged cocktails has always been centered around freshness, but we’d say bar owners just need to know what to keg.
How to Make It Happen:
As a rule of thumb, avoid kegging or batching fresh herbs or aromatics. These are generally best when served a-la-minute. But, consider batching things like Negroni's or Manhattans that can be easily dispensed without sacrificing quality. Another great way to integrate kegged cocktails is to create ‘bases’ for cocktails and finish them in the glass. For example, you can batch a measure of gin and tonic syrup. Dispense it into the glass, and then top it with soda. Just like that, you’ve got the quickest G&T in town. This type of batching speeds up service while providing a reliably consistent product.