Cocktail Trends for 2018

Weeds with your whiskey, natives in your Negroni — the cocktail trends for 2018 will be foraged and probably fermented.

Reduce, reuse and recycle has been the mantra for many in 2017 and the cocktail and bar industry has not been exempt.

Niall Maurici is the bar manager for an award-winning venue in Kingston and said the push to ban plastic straws was just one of the waste reduction trends he had seen take off this year.

“The big buzzword has been sustainability,” he told Ryk Goddard on ABC Radio Hobart.

“That’s probably across a lot of industries, but in the bar world particularly this year it’s been a big trend — bars trying to reduce their waste and repurpose their waste.”

As well moving away from one-use plastics, finding ways to reduce the waste from cocktail making had been big for 2017, Mr Maurici said, and was likely to expand next year.

Jars of food waste that are being turned into fermented drink tonics sit on a wooden board.

“In bars we use a lot of ingredients but we throw a lot away as well,” he said.

“Part of trying to reuse those ingredients has been fermentation; using a lot of our waste to make interesting drinks.”

Mr Maurici said, for example, his bar had been using the leftover bits of lemon to make their own fermented lemonade.

“We’ve been making quite a rustic-style finished lemonade with baker’s yeast and water,” he said.

“It’s very lightly alcoholic; you can use it to add different textures to your drinks.”

Native plants and foraging ‘the next big thing’

Making waves on the bar scene in 2017 were revivals of old drink recipes rather than new creations.

“Different flavours, shrubs and sweetened drinking vinegars, they’re all … quite ancient techniques that have fallen out of favour and we’ve been rediscovering them again,” Mr Maurici said.

White, spikey-looking flowers on a pale-green shrubHe said the next big thing would be using foraged plants in drinks and working with native species.

“The coolest of cocktails appearing on menus are things that incorporate natives, foraged ingredients.

“It all started with … what can you get out of your garden?

“Every bartender, I reckon, has grown some rosemary in their time or pulled some mint out of their own garden, but that’s now expanding.”

Mr Maurici said drinks using plants often considered weeds, such as nasturtiums and oxalis (wood sorrel), were expanding the flavours in drinks.

the heart shaped leaves of the wood sorrel plant.

“You can take a really familiar classic recipe and by adding a native to it you create something quite new and unfamiliar, I think that’s the coolest trend.

“So you’ll see native myrtle, mountain pepper, kunzea, things like that popping up in drinks menus.”

2017 the year of gin … and bad Negronis

Gin has exploded in production and popularity in 2017 with more than 20 different gin makers in Tasmania alone.

But the difference in the gins and their flavour profiles often lead to imbalanced cocktails, Mr Maurici said.

“There’s a plethora of different gins, but unfortunately that brings with it the problem of imbalanced drinks.”

According to Mr Maurici, 2017’s most popular drink, the Negroni, was the cocktail most likely to fail as a result of these different gins.

“It’s probably the most ubiquitous, popular cocktail today; everyone’s making it.

“More often than not it’s too sweet, too bitter or muddy and overpowered by the ingredients.

“Please, bartenders out there, if you’re making a Negroni, taste the drink and adjust the flavours.”