September 26, 2017

4 Mixology and Bartending Trends You Should Know About. 

Just as with any creative medium, trends in mixology are in a constant state of flux. While the strawberry daiquiri may have been the most popular drink at some point, nowadays is different. Sugary concoctions are giving way to finely crafted and artfully conceived cocktails.  They combine innovative techniques with carefully sourced ingredients and are even promoted with poetic menu descriptions and names.

Suddenly, every component of a drink is painstakingly chosen.  It’s the mission of the bartender to create an experience for the customer that’s unlike anything they’d be able to find elsewhere. From the glass it’s served in to the ice it’s poured over, everything is important.

Let’s explore some of the most recent mixology and bartending trends. We’ll discuss how they impact the drink overall and whether or not we believe each new component is a passing fad or here to stay.

1. Chemistry Set Barware

A good mixologist knows that crafting the perfect cocktail is chemistry. It’s all about knowing how each ingredient interacts with the others. Proportions, temperature, time, and the types of tools used have a major impact on the end result. So it seems fitting that glassware inspired by chemistry labs would find its way to the cocktail bar.

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Is it a fad or here to stay?

This type of stylized barware can seem out of place in some settings and tend to do best in trendy, modern, or urban bars. While these items can be the perfect finishing touch for some establishments, the likelihood of them becoming the new norm is not likely.

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2. Smoke

You may have seen the use of wood smoke or flavoured smoke as an added element to the cocktail sensory experience.  While the aroma of smoke can prepare the pallet for woody or smoky liquors (like bourbon or scotch), some argue that trapping smoke inside glasses is gimmicky.  They say it is just for the sake of presentation—not bringing much to the table flavor-wise.

There are a handful of different techniques bartenders will use to incorporate smoke into their creations.  From trapping smoke from a smoke gun inside a lidded vessel to simply lighting a garnish on fire and then blowing it out.

Is it a fad or here to stay?

The increase of visual stimulation (provided to us by technology), means younger generations are becoming more and more driven by what they see. In order to delight the next wave of kids who are coming of age, welcoming smoke into your mixology skill set may not be a bad idea.

3. Herb Garnishes

What’s more appealing than a beautiful green sprig of freshly picked thyme? The trend of garnishing drinks with herbs is sometimes referred to as “garden to glass.” Some bars are even planting their own herb gardens, either on a small bit of land outdoors.  Some even bring it inside and have a vertical garden for the purpose of snipping fresh leaves as drink garnishes.

This approach is a cost-effective way to routinely use fresh herbs. By growing your own herbs, instead of buying them, you can save a lot of money.

Is it a fad or here to stay?

It’s tough to say with this one! While herb garnishes do look beautiful in Instagram photos, patrons can’t really consume them.  This is especially true if it’s something tough, like rosemary, leaving your guest with an awkward piece of plant that they may not know what to do with while enjoying their drink. While herb garnishes can bring a bit of flavor to the party, you’re better off making infused simple syrups or house-made bitters to deliver a full herbal taste. So, even though herbs fit into the visually appealing and sustainable trends, they’re not quite as impressive as smoke or as delicious as a concentrated ingredient like a syrup.

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4. Fancy Ice

Most mixologists wouldn’t put tons of effort into finding all the best ingredients for their drink, only to pour it over stale ice. Nowadays, the most posh establishments are crafting their ice cubes (or spheres).  This takes skill, time and care like they put into all the rest of their ingredients.

Using methods that result in perfectly clear ice cubes can dramatically improve the appearance of a drink.  This is especially true if it’s something simple (like scotch on the rocks).

While ice spheres aren’t anything new in the bartending world, they are growing in popularity as artisanal drinks call for specialty ice. In addition to these spheres having a beautiful appearance, they serve the practical function of melting more slowly to keep your drink colder for longer and prevent liquors from being watered down.

Is it a fad or here to stay?

Ice spheres aren’t really “new.” In fact, they originated in Japan, where they were carved out of ice blocks with knives. Today, there are plenty of ice moulds on the market that make it easy to offer spherical ice at your bar. Considering that this trend has both a visual impact AND a practical function, it’s probably safe to say that we’ll be seeing a lot more round ice in the future.

So are you embracing new bartending trends?

Even if you’re not trying to be on the cutting edge of all the latest bartending trends, it’s still good to stay up to date on some of the bartending techniques and supplies that are likely to stick around for a while.

By incorporating one or two new elements to your bar menu, you can get a sense for what your audience responds to.  Even if a smoking cocktail is a little too extreme for your clientele, they might enjoy their scotch with an ice sphere or a simple herb garnish.

Sometimes introducing customers to a new mixology technique can be a great experience for them.  Perhaps they’ll find a new way to enjoy their favourite drink.

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