Five cocktail trends to look out for in 2019, according to the US’ biggest drinks distributor

Whether it’s canned wine, motherless meat or sustainable serves, the food and drinks industries are obsessed with predicting the future.

In the UK, wine supplier Bibendum has tipped Uruguay, Canada and Croatia as countries to watch in 2019, as well as indigenous grapes from smaller regions in Chile and Argentina. Our own editor Lucy Shaw, meanwhile, predicts that cruelty-free meat and fermentation will be the hot topics in food this year.

But what about cocktails?

Southern Glazer’s, the US’ largest drinks distributor, has come to the rescue. A team from the firm visited 80 bars and restaurants across five cities last year, tasting some 400 cocktails in the pursuit of drinks wisdom.

“What we know is that consumers now expect more complex and layered flavours in cocktails,” Brian Masilionis, director of on-trade national accounts at Southern Glazer’s, said. “However, while they want to be surprised and delighted, they still want to stay in their comfort zone.”

The group has identified five key trends that will become priorities for mixologists in the US and beyond this year.



(photo: MaximFesenko/iStock)

Multi-sensory experiences were one of the trends identified by William Grant & Sons in its own market report last year, and now, texture is fast becoming a talking point in the on-trade.

Incorporating different textures can make a cocktail “feel substantial” to consumers, according to the distributor.

The most obvious way to adjust a drink’s texture is with ice. Large, hand-carved blocks can minimise dilution and “can also be branded or stamped,” it said.

“Medium sized cubes continue to be used for a variety of all-purpose cocktails, and shaved or nugget ice is being used in large part to often dilute boozy, tiki-styled cocktails.”












The healthification of drinks has shown no signs of stopping just yet, and bartenders the world over have been incorporating vegetables into their serves.

But it’s not simply a case of making cocktails healthier. Bartenders in the US have been increasingly using spirits that “have vegetal characteristics, such as Green Chartreuse or its milder, slightly sweeter, lower-alcohol cousin, Yellow Chartreuse.

“Aquavit, a spirit often infused with caraway and dill, is also being used to add vegetal flavour.”























Sweet liqueurs might be faring well in the off-trade, but when it comes to ordering at the bar, bitters are in.

Overall, the on-trade appears to be moving away from overly-sweet serves, according to Southern Glazer’s researchers, and bitters are being incorporated due to their ability to “tone down and balance drinks that are too tart or sweet.”

“Angostura bitters, traditionally used as an accent ingredient, is also making its way to the forefront as a major ingredient in cocktails.”

Unusual ingredients are also becoming more popular. Last year, Jameson launched its own bitters made with seaweed in the on-trade, which Brendan Buckley, Irish Distillers’ innovation director, said was rolled out to capitalise on the fast-growing market for Irish whiskeys in the US on-trade.

“It’s no secret that part of Jameson’s success in the US and around the world has been down to strong brand advocacy among the world’s best bartenders,” he said. “We are committed to developing exciting new concepts that ignite the creativity of these industry leaders.”
















“When used in cocktails, wines reduce the need to add excessive amounts of alcohol (that can make a drink too boozy) and can add a softer sweetness than syrups,” Southern Glazer’s report said.

“These include fortified wines like ports and vermouths; subtle nutty or creamy sherries; crisp and clean red and white wines; and sparkling wines for bubbly texture.”

A number of new vermouth labels have entered the market in the past 12 months. Spirits giant William Grant & Sons launched its own vermouth in July 2018 in order to capitalise on the growing trend for less alcoholic cocktails. Virgin Atlantic has also partnered with non-alcoholic spirit maker Seedlip to offer a menu of lower ABV serves in-flight, two of which use vermouth.





















Coffee (and tea)

Irish Distillers had produced just 3,000 bottles of Jameson Cold Brew. (Photo: Edith Hancock)

Coffee in cocktails is the trend that refuses to die, but tea leaves are also on the rise thanks to their “smoothness, earthiness, subtle smokiness, and other flavour tones—as well as for their strong backbone, which stands up to more assertive spirits.”

Again, Jameson is taking note. the Pernod Ricard-owned whiskey label launched a coffee-flavoured whiskey drink in Ireland last year, with a view to rolling the product out in the US in 2019. Fine wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, meanwhile, rolled out its own-label coffee liqueur in October.


One Response to “Five cocktail trends to look out for in 2019, according to the US’ biggest drinks distributor”

  1. Ben Abdelmalek ABDERRAZAK says:

    bonjour ,
    nous aussi , nous sommes distillateurs en Eau de vie de figues ( BOUKHA) qui est une excellente base de mixologie pour les cocktails que peut conférer de nouvelles textures et qui répondent aux nouvelles tendances.
    cordialement ,

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