Editor’s note: As so many alcohol trends start at bars and restaurants, we occasionally cross-post content from our on-premise sister publication Cheers.
New Year, new predictions for the beverage industry. The “trendologists” at AF & Co., a hospitality- and restaurant-consulting firm based in San Francisco, have put together their determinations of what’s hot and not for 2019.
The theme of this year’s trend report is “Do the right thing.” From eating clean to implementing sustainability initiatives, embracing global ideas and supporting good causes, “there’s a renewed energy to do the right thing for yourself, others, and the world at large,” the report says. “The hospitality industry is leading the charge in creating the world we want to live in.”
Bars and restaurants are looking to ways reducing food waste and make their operations more sustainable. Today’s guests care that operators don’t waste ingredients—they want to know how and where products are grown.
For instance, one upcoming trend identified by AF & Co. is pea milk. This plant-based “milk,” made from ground yellow peas, is positioned as a healthy and more sustainable alternative to nut milk. Farming peas, providers say, is more earth-friendly than growing almonds or raising dairy cows.
As for some of the more spirited trends in beverages, high-alcohol kombucha, aloe liqueur, sake cocktails and Tiki drinks are expected to take off or pick up. Unsung wines and wine regions, including Georgian wine, Lambrusco and South African wines, will be big in 2019, AF & Co. predicts.
Here’s a closer look at a few of the other beverage trends that the company expects to see in the coming year.
Time for tea
AF & Co. anticipates a rise in more-exotic teas such as moringa tea (a popular superfood), cheese tea and mushroom tea. Guests are expecting more from tea programs, prompting the rise of tea sommeliers and elaborate tea offerings.
For example, Little Fluffy Head Cafe in Los Angeles features cheese tea on its menu, while ROOH in San Francisco has a tea sommelier.
Turning lemons into lemonade
Lemonade is more popular than ever, and creative infusion drinks are trending. These include creamy lemonade, creative infusions, such as cucumber-mint lemonade with red hibiscus flower tea, lemonade cocktails and activated charcoal lemonade.
For instance, the menu at the 28-unit California fresh restaurant chain Lemonade includes a maple activated charcoal lemonade. Interval cafe in Milwaukee offers Brazilian lemonade with fermented lime juice, coconut milk and espresso, while Stand Coffee in Brooklyn has an Arnold Palmer iced coffee lemonade.
A Little Clarity
Clarified beverages have been exploding onto the cocktail scene. The process uses a culinary centrifuge to clarify beverages, leaving behind all of the flavor and a clear, smooth beverage with no cloudiness. The Spinzall, a popular culinary centrifuge, has boosted the presence of clarified cocktails.
A number of bars and restaurants offer clarified cocktails. The Los Angeles outpost of cocktail bar Employees Only, which opened in April 2018, has the Hope Monkey cocktail (shown atop), made with Kaffir-lime-infused gin, clarified lime cordial and house absinthe bitters.
Tattersall Distilling in Minneapolis offers a clarified Bloody Mary. And Spork in Pittsburgh has “Piña” cocktail made with clarified pineapple-infused coconut water, piña Pelotón De La Muerte mezcal, pineapple shrub and a pepper tincture.
Pops of color
Blame Instagram and other social sharing sites, but colorful beverages and drinks in unexpected hues are big. From black chardonnay to orange wine to butterfly-pea-tinted blue cocktails, unique colors will continue to make a splash.
At the other end of the spectrum, look for more black cocktails as well, thanks to bartenders reaching for the superfood activated charcoal. For example, Solviva at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, has the Charcoal Botanical Collins, while Jimmy at The James in New York has a Batman cocktail that’s made with Blackwell rum, activated charcoal, pineapple juice, lime juice, agave and mint.
Melissa Dowling is editor of Cheers magazine.