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TOP TRENDS OF 2017 WITH ALEX KRATENA

It's the start of a New Year and it’s time to look ahead to the biggest cocktail and mixology trends for 2017!

We caught up leading bartender Alex Kratena, who worked on the WORLD CLASS Future Cocktail Report to find out what trends you will be seeing this year and how to use them in your bar.

Following the busy Holiday season is a great time to have a break and recharge but it is also an exciting opportunity to start thinking of the year ahead and what new cocktails and experiences you can create for your customers.

So take a look at some key trends for 2017 and my recommendations on how you can use these in your venue!

USE LOCAL INGREDIENTS

Increasingly more bars are focusing on ingredients unique to their location, knowing their guest can’t experience anything similar anywhere else. Local is the new global, so stick to your concept, believe in it and don’t try to please every single guest. There’s no point in shipping ingredients across the globe, instead look around and use what’s in your backyard.

How to use it in your bar: It might be a garnish or a mixer made from local fruits or a herb from your garden but remember it might be familiar to you, but for a guest from far away it will be exotic. For locals your new perspective on ingredients that they are familiar with will be exciting and interesting.

NEXT GENERATION MENUS

Creative menus have now been around for quite some time, but they are not going away any time soon. From playful takes on the Oyster Card by Callooh Callay to the color-coded perfume menu at the Artesian in 2013 - where different cocktails have been coded not only by ingredients, but also by their overall flavor profile. I think some of the best examples of great creative menus is the latest list at the Tippling Club, where Joe Schoefield, emphasizes scent over spirits. Joe worked with IFF to create scented stripes that are presented instead of the actual menu. Luke Whearty of Operation Dagger and Outrage of Modesty lists main flavors, rather than ingredients or spirits.

How to use it in your bar: Be creative with your menus and excite your customer. Whether you design your menu in a different way rather than an A4 page or book, or organize your drinks on the menu by color or flavor rather than by category – start to think outside of the box and unleash your creativity! However, it is important to remember that guests have become increasingly suspicious of catchphrases and labeling that can be seen as buzzwords. For example, increasingly many more believe that using the label ‘organic’ is simply an excuse to charge more. Stop making up fancy terminology that means nothing, media might love it for a while but if your claims are not true, eventually you will get find out.

CREATE NEW EXPERIENCES AND TELL A STORY

Increasingly more bars and bartenders are using their venue and their drinks to provoke customers, leaving a stronger impression. Use your bar’s environment to its full potential and don’t be afraid to make your guest uncomfortable - people are thirsty to experience new things more than ever before. For example, during Tales of the Cocktail this year we hosted a pop-up and we made the menu from recycled paper into which we mixed plant seeds. At the end of the tasting menu we revealed it to our guests and then invited them to take the menus home and plant them.

How to use it in your bar: Ignore the traditional rules of cocktails and explore new ingredients, processes and occasions. When creating new experiences take in to consideration everything from coasters, menus, lighting, all the way to scent and music. But, whenever designing new projects it is important to keep in mind that more complex experiences can easily slip into being gimmicks. Make sure everything you do has reasoning behind it; complexity is often not complicated - let interesting stories sell your drinks. I often create a general scenario and a list of information to communicate, but let individual staff members put their personal stamp on it so the stories come naturally.

LEAVE GENDER AT THE DOOR

The days of drinks being considered 'manly' or 'girly' are over. Boundaries are blurring and as society evolves beyond traditional gender norms, people are feeling liberated with their choice of tipple. Lot of bars are quickly reacting to the behavior of their patrons and have completely thrown out preconceptions and stereotypes about ingredients and spirit categories.

How to use it in your bar: Start considering how you can get your guests to think differently about the style of drink that they will be served. You could use alternative glassware and serving vessels for different drinks or use clever or funny names to attract customers to serves they wouldn’t usually choose. An important thing to remember is to interact with the customer and try to find out what experience they are looking for. From here you could offer some suggestions they wouldn’t normally expect.

COCKTAILS AND DIFFERENT OCCASIONS

Cocktails have seen a surge in popularity among young adults in particular and an increasing number of people drinking cocktails throughout the night, as opposed to just at the start of their evening. Early afternoon cocktails, aperitif, food pairing, or a cocktail as a component of tasting menu is a great opportunity to add to your bottom line.

How to use it in your bar: As a result of this trend there has been a growth in popularity in bitter flavors, amaros, vermouths and other aromatized wines so why not try and create serves that use these ingredients. You could also create cocktails that use low alcohol or no alcohol ingredients for afternoon occasions.

AND FINALLY…

One of the findings is that nowadays most people carry out research before visiting bars, or making purchases. These customers are also much more gladly switching bars, therefore it is more important than ever to manage your online reputation and remain active on both the local and global bar scene. Be involved in your local community and add value to the international scene by organizing original and interesting events. Utilize your supplier relationships to bring new projects to life. If you got idea, tell people about it.

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