Reinvented cocktails, fermented beverages to be popular in 2017

HOTEL MANAGEMENT recently took at look at food trends that are predicted to be hot in 2017. This week, it’s all about the beverages.

Consulting group Andrew Freeman & Company forecasts six main trends that hotels can expect to see guests increasingly request.

Year-Round Rose

“Rosé is no longer just a spring/summer offering, it is being featured throughout the year as a sound wine for food pairing,” according to AF&Co. expert Carolyn Wente. “Rosé continued strong double-digit category growth all year. Both retail and restaurant lists have expanded their rosé offerings, and we think this is a trend that will continue and prove that the category is finally here to stay.”

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Wine Flights

Flights, which typically are offered in 2-ounce pours of three different wines, allow the sommelier and staff to both introduce and educated their guests on what they consider some of the finest wines on the market. Guests are able to experience the wines in a casual yet highly informative format. Wine flights allow staff to curate unique combinations based on almost anything, such as regions around the world, obscure grape varietals and wine styles.

The Cocktail Consultant

While this trend isn’t an actual drink, AF&Co. foresees the rise of “the culinary consultant” who is taking bar programs ad training of bar staff to a whole new level. Food is no longer the main or only attraction; the cocktail menu is a big draw and has a point of view as strong as what’s coming out of the kitchen.

Reinvented Cocktail Recipes

Bartenders are now taking classic cocktail concepts and essentially making them their own. The cocktails are recognizable, yet there is something significantly unique about them. These bartenders are reinventing old recipes to showcase specific nuances, esters and textures that they feel best express their connection to the cocktail.

Coffee on Draft

AF&Co. expert Luigi Di Ruocco of Mr. Espresso is predicting draft lattes and more nitro coffee kegs and taps. These are not easy to pull off logistically, but there is a strong desire for independents and chains to offer a more boutique experience.

Canned Wine

Over the past few years, AF&Co. has seen alternative packaging for wine on the rise due to more casual consumption and a desire for recyclable and sustainable footprints. Kegs were predicted to be the wave of the future for serving wine in restaurants, but adoption has been slow due to cost of installation and infrastructure for delivery with wholesalers. New distribution methods are afoot, so kegs may begin to gain traction.

The company also predicted overall winners for the year in several categories.

Wine of the year: Natural wine. Natural wine is minimally processed, additive-free, and generally produced without adding or removing anything. According to NPR, natural wine “can be darker than usual, a little fizzy, cloudy or with good-sized clumps of yeast floating about.”

Beer of the year: Sour beer. Sour brews are taking the beer scene by storm. Restaurants and bars are welcoming entire menu sections devoted to the super-sour brew.

Spirit of the year: Sake. Craft sake breweries and bars are opening all over the U.S., educating customers on the intricacies of the spirit.

Beverage of the year: Switchel. A staple thirst-quencher amongst farmers for hundreds of years, Switchel is a slightly vinegary drink typically seasoned with ginger and sweetened with molasses, honey or maple syrup. It’s is gaining popularity as a healthy sports drink alternative.

But Andrew Freeman isn’t the only group anticipating what patrons are focused on this year. Smart Meetings is predicting that experimental cocktails will trend higher in 2017, with these five variations leading the charge:

Fat Washing

One of the hottest trends in cocktails is fat-washing alcohol by adding a liquid fat such as melted butter or bacon grease to infuse the spirit with savory flavor. Fat-washing with alternative fats, including milk, coconut and peanut butter, is on the rise.

Pairings

In 2017, interesting new food and beverage pairings, from oysters and gin to sherry and fries, will emerge to compete with wine and cheese.

Culinary Twists

Cocktails with a culinary twist are predicted to be a hit at events, thanks to unique ingredients with innovative cooking methods, including roasted grapes, smoked tomato water and even pickling brine.

Fermented Beverages

Bartenders are incorporating fermented beverages ranging from Kombucha to kefir into creative cocktail creations such as a cranberry and tangerine Kombucha cocktail.

South of the Border Ingredients

Mezcal, serrano chili syrup and other ingredients and flavors associated with South-of-the-Border cuisine will be featured prominently in cocktails.

And last but not least, a study from Evergreen Packaging and EcoFocus Worldwide also reveals a growing theme expected to impact the industry in the coming year: naturally functional beverages.

Consumers are increasingly looking to beverages to play new roles in their diets and health routines, according to the study. Drinkable breakfasts and the "snackification" of beverages are fueled by consumer interest in nutrition and performance drinks that act as meal replacements and guilt-free snacks.

Industry leaders should expect consumers in 2017 to demand beverages that work harder, whether for refreshment, satiety, energy, immunity boosting, sleep aid, blood sugar management, or a host of other functional benefits now associated with these multifunctional power beverages.

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