REVEALING 2024'S TOP COCKTAIL TRENDS: A BARTENDER'S GUIDE
Ready to freshen up your cocktail menu and impress guests? From elevated martinis to exciting twists on the paloma, Liam Davy, Head of Bars at Hawksmoor, shares his predictions on what cocktails will trend this year in the UK, and how to recreate them in your bar.
Author: Liam Davy, Head of Bars at Hawksmoor.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
The martini is a long-standing classic that’s seen a recent peak in popularity, but why is it so hot right now? It appears that the growing trend for drier, umami (the savoury fifth taste) flavoured drinks has influenced a martini boom in the U.S. and the cocktail is enjoying a cultural moment on social media (particularly dirty martinis), leading to increased popularity among guests in the UK.
TOP TIPS FOR MAKING A SIGNATURE MARTINI
Whether it’s switching in a different ingredient or using a unique serving technique, here are some top tips for creating a signature martini in your bar:
- Customize each element of the drink: For example, swap out the traditional olive for a different kind of pickle or vegetable (such as a pepper or caperberry) and use some of that pickle brine in the drink to enhance the flavour as you would in a dirty martini.
- Bring theatre to your martini: capture people’s attention by changing up the way you serve or prepare your martini. For example, use a unique vessel to mix the martini in or employ a shaking technique such as throwing.
- Serve food alongside the martini serve and enhance the flavours of your serve. Classic food and drink pairings for a martini could include oysters, buttery chicken, or stuffed mushrooms.
BARS LEADING THE WAY WITH SIGNATURE MARTINIS
- The Connaught, London, no.8 best bar in the world serves has a tableside martini service, where your drink is mixed up by your table. A great way to personalise the martini cocktail for guests.
- Offering -15° martinis served straight from the freezer, the freezer martini served at Ever After, London, is definitely having a moment with guests.
- The sub-zero insulated flask martinis at Hawksmoor bars in Edinburgh and London, which are martinis served directly from ice-cold flasks, are receiving a great guest response.
HIGH-QUALITY CLASSIC COCKTAILS
Classic cocktails are predicted to experience a renaissance this year, but they won’t be just your bog-standard mojitos and Margaritas – they will contain high-quality, premium ingredients and will be created with extra attention to detail. In fact, two of the UK’s best and most decorated bars, Satan’s Whiskers in London and Schofield’s in Manchester, have moved away from offering more elaborate cocktails using rotovaps and other advanced techniques, and have returned back to basics: creating flawless classic cocktails.
TOP TIPS FOR CRAFTING HIGH-QUALITY CLASSIC COCKAILS
- Brush up on your classic cocktail knowledge, ensuring you’ve nailed the basics first.
- Master the fine details: glassware, garnish, dilution and temperature.
- Try making these types of drinks ‘a la minute’ as opposed to batching cocktails. This means that a higher level of technique is required and can be displayed to guests during service.
- Use premium ingredients including high-quality spirits, mixers and fresh produce.
Offering hyper-seasonal cocktails involves using locally sourced ingredients that are in-season right now. It’s a growing trend due to the rise of sustainability, and one that continues to be approached in increasingly more innovative ways.
Little Red Door, Paris, recently announced they will no longer create thematic menus. They have changed direction to offer six drinks that rotate throughout the year along with four hyper-seasonal ingredients.
TOP TIPS FOR CREATING HYPER-SEASONAL COCKTAILS
- Ask your fruit supplier for surplus or ‘ugly’ fruit. Many cocktail ingredients are processed (macerated, blended, juiced) meaning you don’t always have to use perfect-looking fruit. Often using ‘ugly’ and surplus fruit is both cheaper and more sustainable.
- Try different preservation techniques such as fermenting, pickling and macerating, then work out which techniques are right for your bar. Remember it isn’t always practical to have dozens of jars of fermenting fruit in your venue!
- Try some of your favourite seasonal fruits or vegetables in classic cocktails such as the negroni or a gimlet.
For more practical advice on seasonal serves, check out our article on how to craft the ultimate seasonal menu for your bar.
PALOMAS WITH A TWIST
Tequila and mezcal have seen an incredible growth throughout the past few years. As a result, we’re seeing a huge number of tequila and mezcal cocktails being added to bar menus, including the paloma. Many bars, such as London’s Side Hustle, are now using the paloma as a template to craft more creative cocktails such as their ‘El Tucán’, consisting of mezcal, genepi, celery, grapefruit, club soda and bitters.
TOP TIPS FOR CREATING A PALOMA WITH A TWIST
- Swap out the tequila for a different agave spirits such as mezcal, which will give the cocktail a smoky finish.
- Try using an alternative citrus fruit such as yuzu or mandarin to replace the classic grapefruit.
- Use a fun garnish that will enhance the flavour of the drink and give it a visual pop, such as adding spices or a fruit powder to the salt rim.
While the Bloody Mary is the cocktail that’s most synonymous with savoury flavours, more menu space is now being given to cocktails that have an umami element to them.
Bars such as Kwant, Mayfair, are exploring savoury flavours in their cocktails. For example, Kwant’s ‘Flor’ cocktail is made up of olive oil vodka, fino sherry and tomato. This is a trend that now feels part of the landscape of cutting-edge bars in 2024. The explosion of creativity in cocktail bars has led to an exploration of ingredients that haven’t been associated with cocktails, allowing bartenders to expand the classic flavour palette.
TOP TIPS FOR MAKING UMAMI COCKTAILS
- Use umami ingredients that pair with spirits, wines and liqueurs that also have an element of that same umami flavour. Such as the salinity of fino sherry or the smokiness of mezcal or Islay scotch. This way you end up with flavours that complement each other rather than clash.
- Try using cocktail ingredients like miso, tomato water and nori. Or even try using different flavourings such as soy or even fish sauce to add a salty umami hit to your cocktails.
- Be aware that most guests are not used to drinking salty/umami cocktails so be careful not to overpower your drink with these flavours. A light touch is the best way to achieve a balanced cocktail.
- When creating your own signature martini, think about how you can customize each element of the drink to make your serve stand out.
- Try swapping out the tequila for a different agave spirit, the grapefruit for a different citrus fruit and adding an alternative, fun garnish when creating a paloma with a twist.
- When creating high-quality classic cocktails, ensure you’ve nailed the basics first, then master the fine details, and use premium ingredients.
- When crafting hyper-seasonal cocktails, ask your local supplier for ‘ugly’ fruit, find a preservation technique that works for your bar, try your favourite seasonal fruit in classic cocktails.
- Umami cocktails are best achieved when you pair with spirits, wines and liqueurs that also have an element of that same umami flavour. Remember, most guests are not used to drinking umami cocktails so be careful not to overpower your drink.