The top cocktail of 2022 was the Pornstar Martini, according to one UK industry survey. However, in the US, it was the Margarita, which was voted the nation’s favourite cocktail.
Meanwhile, favoured drinks across the Mediterranean, continue to include the Agua De Valencia (similar to Mimosa), Strawberry Mojito, Sangria and Pomada.
But exciting new cocktail trends are always being shaken and stirred in bar glasses around the world. Let’s see what daring new flavours are bubbling up in 2023.
Art of the retro cocktail – subtle new flavours
The focus on flavours continues to be a big theme. The bartender trend for reimagining cocktail classics goes hand in hand with cocktail lovers wanting to taste experiences beyond traditional recipes. The art of retro cocktails with a twist means exploring subtle new flavours.
- Mezcal Old Fashioned. Here, the time-honoured method – dating back to the 1800s – of mixing whiskey with a hint of sugar and bitters is replaced by using both tequila and mezcal, instead. The combination of smoky mezcal, tequila, sweet agave and Angostura bitters feels both tantalisingly classic and fresh – all at the same time!
- Gin Margarita. Simply, gin replaces tequila as the spirit base in the classic Margarita. Here we have a different zing to the triple sec (Cointreau / orange liqueur) and fresh lime. Bartenders and mixologists figured that many gin botanicals would be a perfect match for the combined citrus flavours. This margarita also needs lots of large ice cubes and that finishing touch of salt flakes (or the spicy dried chilli and lime seasoning, tajin) around the glass rim.
- Negroni Sbagliato. Sbagliato is the Italian word for “mistake.” And refers to the idea of a lucky, but “delicious” mistake. This cocktail classic is reinvented using one-part sparkling wine – instead of one-part gin. To complete, add part vermouth rosso and one part Campari. As is customary, the drink is also built up over ice and finished with a garnish of orange peel slice.
Cocktail trends in the Mediterranean
Beyond the Negroni – both classic and sbagliato – are a new wave of creative spritzers transforming the original 1920s Venetian wine-based cocktail, Aperol Spritz, mixing Prosecco, digestive bitters and soda water.
The Italian tradition of aperitivo
Continuing the Italian theme, we see the rise of the Mediterranean aperitivo tradition.
Aperitivo – or “openness” refers to the Italian tradition of coming together and opening up when relaxing and socialising. All the while, enjoying a fresh and light spritzer cocktail. The aperitivo is intended for afternoon sipping and early evening, pre-dinner appetisers in the company of family and friends.
A Mediterranean aperitivo is low in alcohol, served with soda water, as either:
- Bitter orange or red liqueurs – such as Aperol (orange), Campari (red) and Cynar (red).
- Aromatised wines – including vermouth, chinato and americano.
Cocktail trends in South America
The trend for Mexican mezcal – the umbrella term for all agave-based spirits, including tequila – also runs alongside continuing trends in chasing exotic flavours in far-off locations. Typically, Mai Tai – the signature cocktail at a Tiki bar – made with rum, Curaçao liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime juice.
Or venturing into South America, and the dazzling array of both sweet and tangy bitter cocktails. Each Latin American country boasts its own favoured cocktail flavours, including:
- Caipirinha – the Brazilian national cocktail made with cachaça, sugar, and lime. Cachaça is the most common alcoholic spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice, also known as pinga, caninha. It can be consumed by itself or used as a base for a variety of cocktails.
- Pisco Sour – is a Peruvian cocktail blending Pisco brandy, lime juice, sugar syrup, and egg whites. Then shaken with ice, strained and garnished with Angostura bitters.
- Piscola – is a popular Chilean cocktail, this time mixing Pisco brandy with a soft drink, such as cola, tonic, Sprite, or ginger ale. A tall “highball” glass is filled with ice, and completed with a garnish iof lemon or lime slices.
- Refajo – is a Colombian cocktail, and a bittersweet, refreshing mix of Colombian soda, and pale lager. It’s also sometimes blended with Portuguese aguardiente – made from sugar cane and anise – which is 29 -60 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV). Typically, mixed in a chilled pitcher without stirring, the cocktail is served over ice and often garnished with lime and orange wedges.
World trend for ethical and sustainable cocktail experiences
This brings us to one of the biggest trends of recent years – the “authentic”, premium flavour experience. And ethical ingredient sourcing. How cocktails are made and its “sustainability” are now in high focus. In the UK, nearly half of the cocktail drinkers seek out “natural ingredients” as a key factor in choosing a cocktail.
Across 12 countries – a survey of more than 25,000 consumers also found:
- 88% felt buying ethically sourced or produced products is important.
- 83% of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for a product they were confident was ethically sourced.
- 17% are willing to pay a 50 per cent premium.