The future is a cocktail

Virtually nine out of 10 millennial drinkers (88%) enjoy cocktails when they socialise. Asia, America, Australia, Europe feature on the World’s 50 Best Bar list: the cocktail revolution is clearly gaining momentum. Bar staff are continuously striving to bring in new ideas, techniques and cultural influences, inspiring people to drink better.Cocktails have come a long…

The future is a cocktail


Virtually nine out of 10 millennial drinkers (88%) enjoy cocktails when they socialise. Asia, America, Australia, Europe feature on the World’s 50 Best Bar list: the cocktail revolution is clearly gaining momentum. Bar staff are continuously striving to bring in new ideas, techniques and cultural influences, inspiring people to drink better.

Cocktails have come a long way from being a ‘ladies’ drink. They are now enjoyed by all genders, within age group of 18-45. The straight drinks category, though, is still governed by mature drinkers and averages the age of 50 and above.

From gin to frosé to smoke-infused rye whiskies, Australia is witnessing the boom of local produce in their swankiest bars. Interestingly, mixologists now opt to infuse cocktails with fresh produce that is native to Australia, such as finger limes, wattle, or wood sorrel, to add a dash of fresh and bold flavour to their favourite mixers.

Similarly, bars in Singapore are innovating, using traditional spirits and Asian-Asian flavour combinations, such as the intriguing strawberry and kimchi. A cocktail like King & Queen is made using durian and mangosteen, considered royal fruits in Asia. Oh My Jasmine, is a floral twist on the Scotch Sour, whereas The Little India is made with ingredients typical of Indian cuisine, like sandalwood, jasmine, curry leaf and cardamom. While it is too early to comment on whether bartenders will be able to stick with local; for the time-being, consumers seem to keep coming back for more.

Regardless of the choice of the base spirit, cocktails are an art of precise balance and clean looks, a skill mastered by the Japanese. Drinking forms an integral part of Japanese socialising, from formal company gatherings to outdoor picnics. Cocktails made with freshly squeezed fruit, and various liqueurs have gained popularity in Japan for those who want to avoid beer or heavy spirits.

Bartenders are now celebrities; the bar is known by their name and thus they are under constant pressure to live up to their fame.

Chances are, even if the food is average, if drinks are exceptional, people will frequent the bar. At Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental’s F&B outlets in the hotel, a Rum Barber Pop-Up featuring high-end rums and rum-based cocktails is set up in the hotel’s barber shop.

Gin has established itself as the nectar of the year. No discussion on gin is complete without the mention of the United Kingdom: the land of London Dry, Old Tom and Sloe Gin. This year has seen an influx of flavoured gins, owing to high demand: a raspberry gin and a Blood Orange Gin alongside the existing Rhubarb & Ginger and Quince gins have made for a fresh revolution.

In California, the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco are leading the cocktail culture and beverage trends on the US’ West Coast. Encouraged by the eco-conscious state’s loyal farm-to-table food movement, health and wellness inspired drinks have emerged as pertinent accomplishments in the last year. Back in the 70s, California was the first US state to support local, and seasonal cookery.

Now, half a century later, the State is pioneering the same in the drinks movement, creating healthier recipes with fresh ingredients, some even spiked with superfood ingredients. San Diego also serves an interesting tipple mix of gin, tequila and chilli liqueur, stained midnight black from activated charcoal.

2017 saw an increasing demand for low-alcohol cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, and searches for ‘mocktails’ on Pinterest rose by 160% in 2017. It will be interesting to see on what note 2018 closes, as the trends clearly promote buying local and serving local.

Sandeep Arora is director, Spiritual Luxury Living, a spirits and whisky management company.

I hereby give credit where credit is due to the author