What’s Gonna Be Shaking in 2024?
Q&A With Leah van Deventer, WSET Educator, bar consultant and Academy Chair for The World’s 50 Best Bars.
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
Keeping up with cocktail trends can help you understand your customers' preferences and boost your profits as you move into the new year.
We spoke to Leah van Deventer, a WSET educator and bar consultant who’s on the Academy Chair for The World’s 50 Best Bars, about what she thinks will be shaking up the African bar industry in 2024.
Read our Q&A on all the trends you should look out for, from contemporary cocktails to popular spirits.
Leah, can you tell us which cocktails will be shaking up the New Year?
Internationally, cocktails have been trending towards simpler serves, with little to no garnish, where the drink itself is the hero. In Africa, while the more cutting-edge bars follow suit, we often still lean towards flamboyant, experiential serves in cocktail bars, with all the bells and whistles.
I predict we’ll see more sophisticated, minimal cocktails gaining traction in 2024, as we catch up to our global peers.
What will be the popular spirits of 2024?
In South Africa I would say, gin and whisky are likely to maintain their 2023 ranking as highest in volume, but I believe the biggest growth will come from the cognac, aperitif and bourbon categories.
I expect cognac will do well continent wide, as it’s very much a status symbol among African consumers, particularly for bottle-service markets, such as Nigeria.
Can we expect some flavour favourites?
I’m hoping we’ll see an uptick in more local flavours, as African pride is certainly on the rise.
Top bars like “Hero”, “SinTax”, “Cause Effect” and “Talking to Strangers” – who set trends in the cocktail world – are already doing this, using local ingredients in their serves, so we might see others following suit.
Will African trends differ from global trends in 2024?
We’re generally a beat or two behind international trends, but more or less follow them – in the serious cocktail-bar space, anyway. However, some things don’t catch on; for example, while small pockets of consumers dipped into the hard seltzer craze, it wasn’t widely embraced in Africa.
The low-and-no alcohol movement is making waves globally. I don’t see this gaining too much traction in Africa. At least, not in 2024 – we’re simply not there yet. I also think we’ll stay a bit sweeter in our preferred flavour profiles, on the majority of the continent, anyway.
Can we expect some unexpected ingredients?
We might see more Asian inspired ingredients around, as globally bars like “Double Chicken Please”, “Mace” and other trendsetters lean into this flavour profile.
Alternatively, tropical fruits like banana, papaya and pineapple are picking up in popularity as a new wave of bartenders have started embracing these flavours, finding new ways to introduce them to more complex and interesting cocktails.
Many African countries also have easy access to incredible quality fruits at very affordable prices and their tropical and sub-tropical climates makes these a logical choice to bring into cocktail menus across the continent.
Which popular ingredients will keep their fame?
Coffee has been having a moment, as has tea, and I think both will be around for a while still.
What aesthetics are we loving in 2024?
We’ll be looking at minimal glassware, delicate garnishes – such as the famed citrus coins you see everywhere abroad – and clear ice, although I think we can expect less precision cuts, and a more rustic look.
What else will be trending in the New Year?
I think old-school drinkeries, the likes of “Boadas” and “Dry Martini” abroad, will become more popular with the cool kids, as people tire a bit of ultra-modern lab-driven bars and yearn for something classic and simple. Certainly, this is something I’ve noticed among more serious bar aficionados. I also think our enthusiasm for takeovers may wane later in 2024, as the novelty wears off.
- Cocktails are trending towards simpler serves with little to no garnish. Less is more!
- Gin and whisky are likely to maintain their popularity, while cognac, aperitif and bourbon are likely to see the most growth.
- Local flavours are gaining traction as African pride is on the rise. Sweet cocktails will probably also rise to fame across Africa.
- Asian inspired ingredients will make a scene in 2024, while coffee and tea will keep their spot in many cocktail recipes.
- Tropical fruits are starting to be used in new ways for complex and interesting cocktails.
- Minimal glassware and delicate garnishes, like citrus coins, will be a huge aesthetic trend, as well as clear ice with less precise cuts.
- Old-school drinkeries are making a comeback.
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