The Bacardi Trade Advocacy Team lays out the top headlining cocktail trends of the year and what to expect in your glass in 2017.

The Bacardi Trade Advocacy Portfolio Team has one mission: To spread their knowledge and passion for the cocktail industry and collectively elevate the entire liquor community. As 2016 comes to a close, this team of experts has laid out the most noteworthy and impactful drinking trends at their peak that have swept through bars across the country this year and what to anticipate will make the most noise in the New Year.

From a deep-rooted interest in using locally sourced and homemade ingredients with a focus on health, to the revitalization of forgotten cocktails or once dismissed liquor categories, The Bacardi Trade Advocacy Portfolio Team has the insight on what have been the most talked about trends this year, what is here to stay, and what’s new for 2017.

Bacardi Trade Advocacy Industry Experts

Bacardi Trade Advocacy Industry Experts

Photo Courtesy of Doron Gild Photography

2016 Headlining Trends:

Hillary Choo Jaroschy

Hillary Choo Jaroschy

Photo Courtesy of Doron Gild Photography

“Fresher & Healthier is Better”

Hillary Choo-Jaroschy, South Florida Portfolio Ambassador

This past year the cocktail industry has seen a massive growth and demand for “fresher & healthier is better”. Long gone are the days of sweet and sour mix being used in every bar for speed, efficiency and flavor control. Today’s bartenders and bar managers are no longer afraid to create housemade juices, syrups, shrubs, sodas and are using more or almost exclusively fresh, health conscious ingredients. They are embracing this idea and taking it to the next level not only to ensure that whatever makes up their drink is delicious and fresh, but that those ingredients are better for the body as well.

Colin Asare Appiah

Colin Asare Appiah

Photo Courtesy of Doron Gild Photography

“Vodka IS BACK”

Colin Asare-Appiah, East Senior Portfolio Ambassador

Vodka has been making its way back into serious cocktails on bar menus this past year in a way no one saw coming. Gone are the days where the majority of bartenders looking down on this clear spirit. They are embracing it as an excellent ingredient choice, one that is flexible, approachable and most importantly, finally recognizing that the public wants it in their drinks.

Adrian Biggs

Adrian Biggs

Photo Courtesy of Doron Gild Photography

“Frozen Chic”

Adrian Biggs, Director of Trade Engagement

Frozen drinks have always been a fun way to imbibe but in the recent year, folks have been upping their Frozen game and translating these concoctions into expertly prepared cocktails. Cocktail bars around the country are fully embracing the idea of frozen by transforming upscale drinks into refreshing and complex libations utilizing tools like liquid nitrogen, turbo icemakers and of course the classic slushy machine.

Chris Hopkins

Chris Hopkins

Photo Courtesy of Doron Gild Photography

“Banana is the New Black”

Chris Hopkins, National Accounts Portfolio Ambassador

Since early in the year, Banana has been making its way onto cocktail menus across the country. Whether it be the actual fruit pureed, as a liqueur, or spirit, it’s in in your drink. One of the biggest reasons for the banana focus in cocktails is the tiki renaissance that we’ve been seeing over the past few years. With the resurgence of interest in tiki all year round, and because of the year-round availability of the bananas, bananas cocktails are appearing on drink menus all over the states.

Areina Thomas

Areina Thomas

Photo Courtesy of Doron Gild Photography

“Low ABV, Yeah You Know Me”

Areina Thomas, San Francisco Portfolio Ambassador

2016 brought a significant rise in appreciation for aperitif/aperitivo style cocktails as people are now enjoying the things once believed to only live in their grandparent’s liquor cabinets. Where there was once a void, there is now a growing taste for fortified wines and liqueurs, as they have grown tremendously in popularity through their increased variety, availability, and overall delicious flavor. Cocktails that are lower in alcohol content have become more widely appreciated and are changing drinking culture as we known it. Well-known cocktail bars around the country have elevated the standard of lower ABV cocktails, taking Sherry and Vermouth and opening people’s eyes to a world of cocktails that are nothing short of delicious. There’s another plus, low ABV cocktails won’t put you down for the count regardless of whether you are enjoying one at lunch or late night at your favorite bar. People are taking heed from the basic principle of the aperitif/aperitivo, which is to slow down and embrace time spent with others, allowing for more quality time with friends.

Movements & Trends to Come in 2017:

“A RUM Revival”

Colin Asare-Appiah, East Senior Portfolio Ambassador

Often seen as a warm weather spirit, or to be sipped only while on a sandy beach watching the sunset, rum has faced a stigma in the past with very little consumer awareness or interest existing outside of “occasion based” drinking. Luckily, the tides seem to be shifting with a new wave of a demand for expertly prepared tiki inspired cocktails and bartenders are seeking out rum brands that have an authentic story and unique taste that give them reason to include them on their back bar and on their cocktail menus.

“A New Look for Punch”

Colin Asare-Appiah, East Senior Portfolio Ambassador

The trend of Clarified Milk Punch is in the midst of its second historical revival, and most of the world is rediscovering it in either technique or spirit. Milk Punch dates back to 17th century England when the punch was the preferred tipple of diplomats, royals and the everyday drinker. With the influence of chef driven techniques elevating cocktail making and with access to more diverse ingredients and advanced technology, the quality of Milk Punch today is better than ever. Gareth Howell and Eamon Rockey who have been pioneering the process and create some of the best Milk Punches around delivered successful seminars at this year’s 2016 Tales of the Cocktail and at the USBG NE Regional Conference touting the Milk Punch as a big trend to pay attention to this year.

Jaymee Mandeville

Jaymee Mandeville

Photo Courtesy of Doron Gild Photography

“Guilty Pleasure Drinks”

Jaymee Mandeville, West Senior Portfolio Ambassador

There was a time when 70s, 80s and 90s style cocktails were a no go in craft cocktail bars. They were looked down upon for their call of artificial ingredients or thought to be too sweet and unsophisticated. Bartenders have recently begun to revisit these decade old cocktails (Pina Colada’s, Appletini’s, Sex on the Beach) and re-imagining them with fresh, quality, housemade ingredients transforming them into delicious, complex and well-executed drinks. Craft cocktail bars around the country are stepping up to the plate and showcasing their adaptations on these classics and we have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of this trend in the coming year.

Matt Tiddes

Matt Tiddes

Photo Courtesy of Doron Gild Photography

“Everyday Beverages Reimagined”

Matt Tides, Chicago Bacardi Portfolio Ambassador

Bartenders of late have been exploring everyday beverages & indulgences and transforming them into innovative, progressive cocktails – a trend that is popping up all over the country. Coffee cocktails have been leading the charge this past year, but coming into the New Year, everything from tea, soft serve, matcha to kombucha to milkshakes will be making more noise this year as a larger number of bartenders start altering them into one-of-a kind libations.

Dan Long

Dan Long

Photo Courtesy of Doron Gild Photography

“Take Me to the River: Health Focused and Inspired Bartender Activities”

Dan Long, Los Angeles Portfolio Ambassador

Bartenders are taking charge of their health and wellness and are turning to the brands they love to help them. The nights of consuming one too many cocktails at industry events will never go away, but brands are exploring new avenues to educate their trade audience, and bartenders are feeling great about it. At Bacardi we have organized Backyard Hikes where we explore the outdoors, community building commaraderie amongst the bartending community. In 2016 we hosted these in Los Angeles, Chicago and Puerto Rico. Watch our for new destinations in 2017!

Duane Fernandez

Duane Fernandez

Photo Courtesy of Doron Gild Photography

“Libations of Luxury”

Duane Fernandez, Texas Portfolio Ambassador

In a time where exceptionally rare spirits regularly grace bar shelves with their presence, bartenders are breaking free from the notion that these spirits must be sipped alone and without interruption from additional spirits or modifiers. Ultra Premium Scotch Whisky, in particular, has been used more and more in cocktails. With delicate attention to detail and respect for the liquid coming from these revered, nearly sacred bottles, there is a new trend that has taken flight, where bartenders have begun featuring these spirits on premium and super premium cocktail menus. Rather than leaving the bottles to gather dusts, bars are presenting these cocktails as a beautiful way to enjoy what might be a once in a lifetime cocktail.

“Opting for Aquafaba”

Areina Thomas, San Francisco Portfolio Ambassador

With cocktails like the Ramos Gin Fizz, the Clover Club, the Rattlesnake, and the beloved Whisky Sour, egg whites have been an essential ingredient to their recipes. It wasn’t up until this year that bartenders thought about making these cocktails without the use of egg whites. This came about with the discovery of aquafaba, the byproduct of cooking dried chickpeas or legumes in water, resulting in unique brine that has emulsifying and foaming properties. Bartenders have found that the aquafaba adds body to cocktails, offering a familiar velvety texture while also allowing for a creamy head that is similar to that found on egg white cocktails. Aquafaba is finally an ingredient that offers a beautiful mouthfeel, without the off-putting smell of eggwhites, to be enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike. While aquafaba may not entirely replace egg whites in cocktails, it is surely proving to be a delicious alternative.