Cocktails are a great marker of the times we live in and fascinating trends to follow for those mixologists serving on the front line as well as those at the front of the line at the bar! So whether you're looking for cocktail menu ideas for your bar or restaurant or perhaps you're looking for ideas for your own weekend tipple, we've got you covered in our yearly round-up of the most popular cocktails.
This year our cocktail shakers are going to be filled with blasts from the past (the 90s to be precise), new takes on the classic Negroni, and a certain je ne sais quoi from the cocktail-drinking experience. We’ve spoken to the EHL mixologists to gather the cocktail trends filling our cups in 2024. These are the drinks you’ll be cheersing this year!
1. Spicy drinks
Savory and spicy cocktails are becoming increasingly popular, as people are looking for more complex and interesting flavors in their drinks. Popular savory cocktails include the Bloody Mary and the Dirty Martini, while spicy cocktails include the Jalapeño Margarita and the Ginger Basil Smash.
Spicy cocktails have become a hit with the social elite, with the Picante becoming an emblem of the swanky members-only club Soho House. There is a long list of spicy cocktails to try, some of the more popular ones are Spicy Margs, Picantes, Bloody Maria’s, or perhaps you’ll prefer a Cucumber Wasabi Martini to knock your socks off!
2. Throwback to the 90s
The 90s called and it wants its drink back… the ‘Tini. The espresso martini continues to be a firm favorite among those wanting a little pick-me-up during an evening out. Fresh takes on the coffee-based cocktail will include using local high-quality cold-brew coffee, adding subtle notes such as vanilla, and switching out the vodka for scotch.
The Apple Martini is also making a huge comeback, a sour cocktail that will be made from fresher ingredients in 2024 than in the 90s. And if you have a ‘salt-tooth’ then perhaps the briny Dirty Martini with olive juice will be more your thing.
3. Twists on the Negroni
The Negroni is a classic cocktail that has experienced a steep rise in popularity over the last few years. Balancing sweet, bitter, and botanical flavors, there’s no wonder why people have taken to this Campari-based Italian cocktail into their hearts. In 2024 however, Negroni lovers will experiment with new twists on the old classic.
Substituting just the gin for prosecco creates a low-er alcohol version known as the Negroni Sbagliato which is light and sweet. Another recipe substitutes the gin for another 2024 favorite, Mezcal. Making for a smoky, bitter, and sweet drink, called a Mezcal Negroni.
4. Fancy Ice cubes
A trend for mixologists and the home bar alike! Long gone are the small square ice cubes we’re accustomed to, 2024 is the year that we get creative with ice. From giant cubes to specialty shapes, to herb or fruit-infused beauties. Ice is more than for merely keeping your trip cool, it’s a way of decorating your cocktail and adding even more flavor. So treat yourself to some quirky molds and experiment with adding flavors like lavender, thyme, lemon, cucumber & mint, or coffee to your ice cubes.
@kami.larae My freezer drawers are broken.. they haven't worked in over a month..coffee and berry juice spilled all over the garage freezer.. slushy melted boozy ice.. colorful juice drops all over my living room floor.. real life is messy.. not the perfection we all see in videos #ice #icedrawer #restock ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim
5. Experiential Cocktails
Ever heard the phrase “eating with your eyes”? Turns out we drink with them too! The experience-seeking culture of Millenials and Gen-Z’s with their insatiable appetite to capture unique moments for their social media has led to the trend of cocktails becoming experiential. Cocktails have always been a thing of beauty in their presentation, but now mixologists must also think about the performance and producing a ‘wow’ moment for the drinker.
Be it the captivating view of the mixologists at work, or the cocktail itself, which can be achieved by mastering molecular cocktail making. Molecular mixology is the practice of mixing drinks using science to manipulate ingredients on the molecular level. It was inspired by molecular gastronomy, which employs similar techniques to food.
6. Low-and No-Alcohol Cocktails
Similarly to EHL's List of Drink Trends 2024, cocktail trends also have a growing consumer market for delicious low-abv and virgin options which are just as satiating as their alcoholic counterparts. Expect to see a growing list on the non-alcoholic section of the cocktail menu and bartenders are putting much more thought and creativity into their taste and presentation.
According to the WHO, over half the world's population (57%) abstains from alcohol. This percentage is more like a third of the population in Western countries, but significantly, this cohort is growing.
Jane Danger, a member of the national mixology team at Pernod Ricard USA told the Zoe report " What started as a ‘Dry January’ [fad] has turned to a consistent ‘Damp Living’ lifestyle,” she says. “Consumers are looking to find convivial moments in moderation throughout the year, especially as the weather warms up in the spring and summer and daytime drinking occasions are more common.”
7. Spiked Slushies
French syrup producer Monin has named slushies, Tequila and Mexican-inspired drinks as its top on-trade trends for 2024. In a poll for Monin’s 2022-2023 Summer Drinks Trends Report of UK-based consumers and hospitality leaders. They found that "a Frozen Cosmo Slushy suggested as a possibility for dominating the vodka-based version of the cocktail, a Frozen Piña Colada fronting the rum-based category, and a Frozen Strawberry Margarita presented as a trend for the Tequila-based slushy serve.
8. The mixers you use matter
In 2024, bartenders are paying more attention than ever to the mixers they use in their cocktails. This means that we can expect to see more house-made syrups, shrubs, and bitters on bar menus. Bartenders are also using more unusual mixers, such as kombucha and fermented juices (another nod to the general drinks trends). For example, the Turmeric Tonic is a refreshing cocktail that uses turmeric syrup and tonic water.
These are just a few of the top cocktail trends for 2024. With so many new and exciting flavors and experiences to try, there's something for everyone to enjoy. So get ready to shake up your cocktail routine next year!