“If I’ve learned anything in the bar world, nothing ever dies,” says Kala Ellis, the beverage director of The Indigo Road Hospitality Group in Nashville. “It just cycles.” And if the resurgence of the espresso martini is any indication, she’s absolutely right. This year, what’s old was new, as dirty shirleys, briney martinis, and te fluffy, coffee-spiked espresso martinis of the ‘90s made cocktail menus across the country.
To predict what we’ll be drinking next year, we polled a range of bartenders to see what trends they think (or hope) will die off. Here’s what they had to say.
Out: Celebrity Tequila
“I hope we see an end to celebrity-backed, money-grab brands,” muses James Nowicki of Common Thread in Savannah. Adam Morgan, bar manager of Husk Nashville, agrees, citing “spirits marketed by celebrity endorsement/involvement” as a trend he’d like to leave in 2022. “Just because a recognizable face is attached to it, doesn’t make it a quality tequila. I am already seeing the general public wising up to the gimmick, so I hope it keeps trending that way.”
“Oftentimes, these [celebrity tequilas] are mass-produced and made in a way that doesn’t honor that particular spirit,” says Shannon Michelle, Beverage Director at Josephine in Jacksonville. “You have hard-working people breaking their back in the hot sun to create a tequila or mezcal and they only see pennies of the profit. It’s important to that demographic and to the integrity of the spirits themself that we support the intense labor of love it makes them. Tequila has risen in demand and to keep the supply coming, we should be ensuring proper living wages are going back into the communities that made them and not to the face of a brand.”
(Not) Out: TikToks & Digital Drinking
“I definitely think the trend of TikTok’s influence on society will continue and will grow, but hopefully we can be done with the negroni sbagliato,” says Nick Hassiotis, Operating Partner of Foundation Social Eatery in Alpharetta. “Other trends I wouldn’t mind dying off? Robots replacing people in restaurants. Yes, there is a labor shortage, but robot cooks or robot food runners are not the answer – people need human interactions.”
Out: Overly Complicated Drinks
“I foresee overcomplicated ingredients, as well as cocktails with way too many ingredients falling off,” says Natalie Newberry of The Continental in Nashville. “Less is more!” She’d also like to stop seeing the ‘same old puns’ for drink names. “Fingers crossed!”
Out: Basic Espresso Martinis
“While I do think that the Espresso Martini fad still has some gas in the tank, I’m curious to see if lovers of this ubiquitous cocktail will experiment with different variations on the classic recipe,” says Mark Tubridy, the bar manager of Baccarat Hotel New York. “A simple swap in the base spirit, brand of coffee liqueur, or variety of coffee beans used for the espresso could make for an interesting departure from the traditional recipe. Not to mention the addition of other spirits such as amari and flavored liqueurs….”
“I don’t know if any of these trends will die off…” says Brittany Park, bar manager of Brasserie la Banque and Bar Vauté in Charleston, “but I certainly hope that people will continue to be more adventurous and try cocktails that aren’t vodka based.”
Something else bartenders would like to leave behind this year? “I would be okay to see martini glassware die off forever,” says Kala Ellis, the beverage director of The Indigo Road Hospitality Group, Nashville. “People have become more accepting of the coupe glass in place of the rigid and unforgiving martini glass. The coupe holds and delivers a drink better than the martini glass, and it’s just as elegant and refined if not more so! Coupes forever!”
Out: Hard Seltzers
“Interest in hard seltzers is waning, and we are fine with it!” says Dmitri Chekaldin, owner of two Dacha Beer Garden locations in Washington. “They had a moment, but that moment will likely be over in 2023.”
“Hard seltzers are my least favorite trend,” says Scott Taylor, the beverage director of Harris’ Restaurant in San Francisco. “There is a huge variety of seltzers out there, from Topo Chico and Budweiser to White Claw and Jim Beam
“Ready-to-drink cocktails are not, and never will be, a substitute for a freshly made cocktail,” he continues. “We should have learned something from Zima’s crash from popularity in the mid ’90s.”
“One trend that I hope to fade away is the bottomless Mimosas,” says McColbert Evrard, the food and beverage director at The Kimpton Banneker. “As Michael Moriarty says, ‘Drinking is an art, not a sport.’” Instead, bartenders are increasingly excited about low-proof (or no-proof) cocktails.
“With the large influx of non-alcoholic spirits hitting the market, I think it’s fair to say we will see a dramatic increase in zero-proof cocktails on menus,” says Newberry. “That being said, I think we’ll see those zero-proof spirits being integrated into other cocktails as ways of lowering the ABV but still packing flavor.”
“The no and low trend is not going anywhere, but the amount of sweet and unbalanced alternatives that keep cropping up need to go!” says Kevin King, General Manager of Minero Mexican Grill & Cantina in Charleston, SC. “If I wanted a sugary non-alcoholic beverage, I’d just order a soda.”