Zero waste, simpler drinks, vermouth…. and the year of the banana? We asked 10 of London’s top cocktail and drink gurus what they predict will be big for the 2017 booze scene.
The health trend will be permeating the cocktail market heavily in 2017. I expect to see a rise in cocktails offering lower sugar levels with lower alcohol content such as a long vermouth & tonic, sherry & soda and spritzer-style combinations. Fresh ingredients are also key, and agave plant-based spirits including mezcal, sotol and tequila will continue to grow in popularity.
Giancarlo Mancino, consultant at Rosewood Hotels & founder of Mancino Vermouth
Low-ABV cocktails (known as 'shims' across the pond). It's a trend that'll go from strength to strength in 2017 as we become more health conscious. Low-ABV cocktails really allow you to enjoy a few drinks and all the flavour without the high alcohol content. Spirits like gin, vodka and rum are replaced with vermouths like Belsazar, aperitifs like Aperol and Campari, fortified wines like sherries and ports and other herbal liqueurs. As they are loaded with herbs and spices, sweetness and bitterness, they are perfect to use as the base of any drink that will make you last the whole night.
Tabara N'Diaye, events manager at Cocktails in the City
Craft spirits and liquors
In 2017 there will be a move away from infusions, making way for craft spirits and liqueurs. Bartenders who have, over the last few years, specialised in infusing spirits are now starting to release their products to the market. 2017 will continue to see the extended use of brands like Italicus, Bold, Kamm & Sons, Cellar Door or Wolf's Nose Gin (to name a few).
Bart Miedeksza, head bartender High Water
Smaller wine lists and more natural wine
I think we will see a trend moving away from larger wine lists with more places having a small wine list like we do at Sager + Wilde. Also I think the strong growth in the natural wine market in the UK will continue. [Not a cocktail prediction, we admit, but booze related nonetheless.]
Michael Sager, co-owner, Sager + Wilde
2017 is going to be the year bars rethink their produce. The word sustainability has been batted around the industry in hushed terms for the past few years and little has changed so far — but things seem to be gaining momentum. With the launch of Trash Tiki by Iain Griffiths and Kelsey Ramage, we're going to see the bar world learn to reuse all the fresh stuff they’re throwing out each night, from citrus rinds and pulp from juicing to harnessing trash from local cafes. Ever made orgeat with stale almond croissants? Me neither, but it turns out you can. Cocktails can be a wasteful business but it looks like 2017 will hit the industry hard with ways to minimise waste and still make delicious drinks.
Siobhan Payne, festival director, London Cocktail Week
Drink combos and year of the banana
The boundaries between food and drink will continue to blur, as chefs are exploring different models and different spaces to create. Bar spaces will play host to more chef pop-ups without the need for a separate kitchen. And bartenders will collaborate more closely on these projects.
Teas, cachaca and better non-alcoholics will also appear more on menus. I'll say it every year but 2017 is definitely the year of the banana too.
Most of the forgotten classics will rise in cocktails menu all around the world, with a twist, using modern ingredients and kitchen techniques, such as the sous vide cooking style to enhance flavour nuances, without compromising quality and freshness
Simone De Luce at The Walrus Room
Sugar content in spirits will be a major talking point as well as a continued use of fresh garden ingredients. We had a great crop from the rooftop garden at the hotel this year with some ingredients such as the jasmine making it into the cocktails.
Eoin Kenny, bar manager at Ham Yard Hotel
Less is more
Bartenders are moving away from showy, complicated serves, going back to the classics and focusing on high quality ingredients and craft spirits.
Simone Deeprose, bar manager at Aviary Bar/Food Junkies TV Presenter
Mixers will make a big comeback. Quality and choice improved so much within the past two years in terms of tonic, lemonades and other softs — they will play a big part in the 2017 drink landscape.
Jean Vital, bar manager at The Booking Office, St Pancras International