Happy Christmas from the BartenderHQ Podcast – Drinks Trends 2017-18

drinks trends

Happy Christmas! You’ve made it! On today’s show we’re back with me, David Eden-Sangwell and Samuel Boulton, the Vermouth Ambassador to talk drinks trends.

The Vanguard Bar, Birmingham

We start off with a quick update of Sam’s Vanguard Bar project which will be opening early in 2018 when he returns from Japan. Due to some delays with building works at the site the venue won’t be open for Christmas, but will open fully in January after successful pop up style testing nights in December 2017. The Vanguard will feature modern cocktails and Mead to a soundtrack of chilled hip-hop.

Vanguard Bar Lady

Drinks Trends 2017 Prediction Review

After a thorough search of the first couple of results on Google, we’re looking through 31Dover.com‘s Drinks Trends for 2017 post from the beginning of last year. Its always tricky to get right, so we’re seeing how they did in retrospect. The following is the text from their article which we’re discussing, so you can read along and find all the products that we’re chatting about.


There’s a couple of factors at play here to suggest it’s going to be a big year for British booze. Firstly, there’s been a steady increase in sales of English fizz, with the category emerging as one of the most exciting and promising developments in the wine world. Chapel Down are set to replace Bollinger as the official sponsor of the Oxford & Cambridge boat race, rumours are circulating that Nyetimber have some tricks up their sleeve and Gusbourne are going from strength to strength.

With Brexit too, and potential price increases on imports, there’s opportunity for British brands to make some noise with a twist on tradition. Already Tarquin’s Cornish Pastis, Dark Matter’s Scottish Spiced Rum and Somerset Cider Brandy are competing with traditionally imported product.


2016 saw a huge increase in sales of flavoured spirits. Warner Edwards Rhubarb Gin saw a sales increase of over 700% on 31Dover.com, and their new botanical release, Melissa Gin was launched to great acclaim. The flavour of the summer, Pink Grapefruit, was imagined as a new Gin by Chase Distillery and a Vodka by Ciroc.

For 2017, new flavoured variants will be in abundance – but not just white spirits and citrus combinations. From beetroot, pomegranate and aloe vera, to cola & apricot and elderflower & grape, the flavours universe is expanding in every direction across all categories.

Just-drinks commentator Richard Corbett describes flavours in soft drinks as “the key focal point of innovation, created in response to broadening consumer tastes and expectations”. As customers become more adventurous, with palates opened up to world cuisine, so too will drink offerings become more exotic, unfamiliar and exciting.


Of all the flavours, we’re predicting that coffee will be the stand-out star for 2017. We’ll be introducing V Gallery Coffee vodka – unbelievable neat, or with a splash of tonic, and Pirate’s Grog Ei8ht Coffee Rumis already on site (and it’s awesome). Made with cold brew coffee, it’s leading the way for spirits bottled with cold brew as part of the mix – not ‘infused’ but rather prefab bottled cocktails.

It’s likely this will translate in bars too. Other than the Espresso Martini, we’ve little new coffee creations so in 2017 we can look forward to mixologists putting a coffee-spin on flips, sours and swizzles. “Coffee is less stable than tea and must be brewed to release its full spectrum of flavour, but its mixability should not be overlooked. Whether steeped in a French press, pulled as an espresso shot, or made into a syrup or liqueur, coffee is a challenging ingredient to incorporate into cocktails,” wrote Jim Meehan in The PDT Cocktail Book. Keep an eye out then for Coffee Negronis, Coffee Cosmos and Coffee Daiquiris… coming to a bar near you!


Drinkers are demanding “a multi-sensory experience in alcoholic drinks” – in the same way they can experience with food. And the brands are responding.

Food and drink pairing now goes well beyond wine. Brands are supporting spirits pairings which customers can replicate at home. Rebecca Quinones, global brand ambassador for Ron Zacapa, says food pairing is playing a key part in the brand’s strategy in the US. “We’re also partnering with chefs from key markets in different cities and doing a lot of food pairing to show Zacapa’s versatility,” she explains.

Whilst wine and cheese will never grow old, popular new spirit and food pairings for 2017 will include Tequila with oysters, Gin with a prawn cocktail, Whisky with beef, Rum with pork, even Sherry with French fries and, naturally, Vodkas with caviar. Pairing specific cocktails with food is also becoming increasingly common as brands explore in more depth the relationship between food and drink – across all categories, beyond wine and beer.


It started with Frose in summer 2016, and it’s only just beginning…

We predict a big freeze in 2017 as people start to play with what’s possible. White wine, white spirits, syrups, liqueurs – watch this space. Booze is about to get colder.


Ready to drink cocktails saw a steady increase in sales on 31Dover.com last year, but as the time-poor drinker becomes aware of high-quality, easy, immediate drink solutions we predict the likes of Tails and Casso cocktails will be packed in many a summer picnic.

Liquor.com agree, highlighting the expectant nature of millennials in particular meaning they don’t want to wait around in a bar for cocktails when they can grab a ready-mixed on the go to sit and sip in the sunshine.


Drinks brands have upped the ante with their non-alcoholic and low ABV offerings. Dry January 2017 has seen year-old Seedlip – the world’s first ‘non-alcoholic spirit’ propelled into the spotlight. Low ABV drinks such as Belsazar Vermouth proved popular in the summer of 2016 and the trend is likely to come into its own in 2017 – we’ll be sipping Rose Vermouth and Tonic should the British summer ever come to fruition…

Low ABV drinks are the best way to start a meal and they excuse early-afternoon (late-morning?) drinking in a way that, say, a Scotch on the rocks does not! So we think that we’ll be taking a leaf out of our European counterparts and enjoying Aperol Spritzs rather than double-shot G&Ts… at least, some of the time…


Herbaceous, vegetal flavours are going to be BIG in 2017.

Whilst sugar and citrus make up the base of most great shaken cocktails, these two elements along with sweet fruit flavours have dominated classic cocktail combinations and spirit flavours for too long now. More savoury flavours have been slowly creeping into the cocktail shaker, inspired by the the umami of a Bloody Mary and experimental mixologists such as Rich Woods and Ryan Chetiyawardana.

Cocktails with hints of truffles, mushrooms, celery and carrot are not uncommon and as the exploration of botany flavours continues, this will slowly spread across the drinks industry as 2017 ticks over. And not just in cocktails. We’ve already two gins that think they’re vegetables: Celery Gin from Rutte and a watercress gin from Twisted Nose.

So, see ya later sweet fruits, we’re looking out for cocktails and spirits featuring the likes of roasted grapes, salt-roasted plantains, smoked tomato water, puréed red peppers, snap peas, corn and even fermented seaweed…


We’ve had molecular cocktails and (as above) savoury cocktails are becoming ever more popular – but a trend is emerging for ‘closed-loop’ cocktails that are made with ingredients that traditionally people would throw away….

The movement is being championed by the aforementioned cocktail mavericks Ryan Chetiyawardana of White Lyan and Dandelyan, and Rich Woods of Duck & Waffle. These renegade bartenders upcycle ingredients others would bin: Ryan has turned lemon husks into a sweet falernum syrup used in a gin sour and Rich released a daring cocktail menu last summer featuring banana skins, tomato stalks, avocado stones and even burnt toast.

By controlling every part of the production process we’re able to significantly reduce waste,” says Chetiyawardana. His Moneypenny Martini featured coffee oil extracted from used coffee and a coffee distillate from leftover coffee grounds. Across town in the Heron Tower, Rich Woods  agrees “It’s not just about throwing liquid in to a glass, it’s conscious drinking – from nurturing the growth of roots and shoots to lowering waste by harnessing flavours from produce that society tells us is past its best”.

Will this sustainability-driven “root to leaf” movement make it’s way into at-home cocktail creations? Perhaps not in 2017, but as we become more aware of our waste, this is the start of a trend that will grow over the next few years for sure.


And finally, the Gin revolution very much continues.

Sure, we could say this is the year for Craft Rum, for Tequila and Mezcal to finally make their mark – but it’s not. Sorry.

Gin continues to go from strength to strength with delicious new craft creations from all over the world offering playful and exciting new botanical combinations. And we, just like all of you, still can’t get enough of good ol’ Mother’s Ruin.

Our Drinks Trends 2018 Predictions

  • Simplicity of Serves – Removing needless garnishes and accompanying “accessories” to the cocktails, getting back to great flavour combinations where if there is a garnish, it enhances flavour.
  • Lower ABV drinks will continue to build and become more mainstream as cocktail bases.
  • Further growth in consumer demand for products with provenance and seeing behind the scenes of production. Distillers and brand owners to become more well known as people and show the faces behind the products.
  • “Sam’s Dream” – Mead to be the best selling drink – at least in his own bar!
  • “David’s Dream” – Mezcal to become known of by the average Joe – not a go to drink but at least join the normal people’s consciousness.

What are your Drinks Trends predictions for the coming year?

BartenderHQ 2018 – The Masters Series

In 2018 Sam will be taking the lead in producing some of the most in-depth training available on the internet for bartenders with 90min -2 hour deep dive podcasts throughout the year. We’re looking to kick off with 8-12 episodes in 2018, for example Sake, Grappa and more niche products. If you have any thoughts on what you’d like to hear about, let us know on Social!

Help Me Out!

As you know, I’m now working with Catalyst PLB as the Spirits Development Manager – I’d love you to check out and follow our social media over there too if you’d be interested in what we’re doing – Catalyst PLB on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

drinks trends

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