Gin, creative cocktails highlight 2016 trends list

Staying on top of trends is an constant task for hotels, and that applies to beverage trends, as well. Several industry participants are predicting what the next big things are for 2016, among them Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.

Gin is the spirit of the moment, closely followed by rum and bourbon, according to Kimpton's bar gurus. Rosé and sour beer are on the rise, and the Bamboo Cocktail will be the classic cocktail comeback of 2016. Bartenders are also mixing it up with mismatched vintage glassware, herbs and florals, unique ice cubes, shrubs and house carbonated spirits.

According to Andrew Freeman & Co., a number of trends will impact hotel restaurants and bars next year.

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  • Mocktail offerings are popping up all over America’s food cities from San Francisco to New York. They target consumers watching their diets, designated drivers, pregnant women, and even “foodie” children. Some chefs have experimented with pairing an entire meal with mocktails, which gives them a unique opportunity to blend ingredients that complement the food without the overpowering strength of alcohol (or the cost).
  • Restaurants and bars across the country are getting creative with Kombucha juice. The popular earthy drink is being incorporated into cocktails to create more botanical and fruitful alcoholic beverages. Favorite cocktail drinks are being enhanced by the trend with new concoctions like the kombucha rita. Breweries are even getting in on the idea too, working alongside popular Kombucha drink companies to introduce new beer blends to its consumers.
  • Bubble mania expands from champagne and sparkling wine to sparkling water and fancy house-made sodas. Restaurants and breweries are embracing this new preference by introducing their own house-made sodas and producers are creating their own alcoholic and non-alcoholic brews by infusing them with ginger and other botanical flavors.
  • The popular morning drink continues to evolve with the popularity of nitro-coffee. Coffee shops and restaurants alike are expanding on the trend, incorporating coffee into alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic coffee beverages by infusing new techniques and flavors to create balanced and “treatful” coffee drinks.
  • Martinis and Gin & Tonics will never go out of style, but bartenders are putting a creative spin on the classic old school drinks with barrel-aged gins on the rise. Aged in whiskey, brandy or rum barrels, these gins are infused with tastes of botanicals and sweetened with hints of vanilla, maple, and brown sugar creating a gin that is easy to sip and is the perfect complement in any number of cocktails.
  • Tropical cocktails are making their way back into the mainstream. Umbrella-decorated drinks are on the rise and are bringing a little more flair to your glass. Restaurants are recreating some of the popular cocktail drinks from the original tiki days and are putting a fresh and creative spin on them with high-quality ingredients and fresh-squeezed juices.
  • Pairing wine with food is an old-standing tradition, but this tradition is being made anew with cocktails now being paired in multicourse meals. Bartenders are creating drinks with flavors designed to specifically complement dishes. This new trend allows bartenders to highlight signature drinks and bring a new level of balance to main course food offerings.
  • The Beyond Zero icemaker, a new innovation that freezes alcohol, is putting a cool spin on your favorite cocktail drinks.
  • Instagram-worthy garnishes from gold-dusted flowers, dehydrated fruits, sugar stirrers and designer straws are growing in popularity and giving restaurateurs and hoteliers equal opportunity to add pizzazz to their beverage offerings.
  • Although Bloody Mary’s have always been popular, Freeman expects to see more and more creative presentations of this fan-favorite. From inventive garnishes, new components, to larger-than-life carts at posh brunch spots throughout the country, they continue to evolve and grow from their traditional spicy tomato juice and vodka recipes.
  • Matcha is taking the world by storm. With its hint of sweetness and its many health benefits people are going crazy for it. In the past year alone, Matcha sales have gone up by nearly 55 percent. Botanical drinks are also giving drink connoisseurs something to talk about. With people looking for healthier food and drink alternatives that are less sweet, people are turning to plant-based beverages. From teas to smoothies to your favorite cocktail drinks, people are asking for fresh plant-based ingredients. Mint, ginger and everything in between add a bit of freshness and flare to our favorite drinks.
  • An innovative and effective way to pour wine is now gaining in popularity. More restaurants and wineries are now offering wines on tap. Pouring from tap, rather than going through the traditional process of popping open a stubborn cork helps to keep things moving. The ability to keep the wine in kegs increases preservation time.
  • White wine, particularly moderately oaked, will continue to rise. Even traditional red wine drinkers are exploring more white wines. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris show double digit growth and Chardonnay, America's No. 1 selling varietal, continues to rise. French Chenin Blanc is gaining popularity and the dry and off dry Rieslings from Germany and Austria are continually the most prized. Winemakers are using more oak and less interventionist methods like native yeast in their wine.
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