Whether the occasion is an after-work happy hour, cheering on your favorite sports team, celebrating a friend’s birthday or just another day, cocktails always have been a way to enhance the experience. As the beverage industry progresses, a cocktail isn’t just a cocktail and a bartender isn’t just a bartender anymore. More recently dubbed mixology and mixologists, new craft trends are fueling a different kind of cocktail experience.

Mixology is the combination of spirits and ingredients that make balanced artisanal cocktails, says Craig Welsh, head bartender and mixologist at Miami-based restaurant Boulud Sud.

People are becoming more health conscious every day and watching what ingredients they are putting into their bodies, resulting in a trend toward healthier, more fresh and locally sourced ingredients, Welsh says. With the high demand for low-sugar cocktails, mixologists are using unique ingredients from the kitchen, including seasonings and herbs that were not used in years past, he adds.

“[For example,] ingredients such as turmeric, chorizo and endive now are showing up across the country,” he says. “I feel brandy and Armagnac are making a case for top spirits of 2019 because of the demand for complex spirit-driven cocktails.”


Creatively designed cocktails

As alcohol brands recognize the trend toward artisanal and unique cocktails, they too are creating more complex and spirit-driven recipes. Tequila and its “brother” varietals increasingly have become more popular in cocktail formulations and National Brand Ambassador for Milagro Tequila Jaime Salas has wasted no time in creating.

Fashioned by Salas, using 1.5-ounces of Milagro Reposado is the El Color Rojo cocktail. Salas combines the reposado with 1-ounce fresh lemon juice, 0.2-ounces of rosé wine, 0.5-ounces of light agave nectar and 0.5-ounces of Crème de Cassis. After adding ice, shaking and straining, Salas tops it off with a blackberry and raspberry garnish.

Another interesting cocktail created by Salas is the Matcha Made in Heaven. Matcha Made in Heaven includes 2-ounces of Milagro Silver, three-fourths part matcha green tea syrup, three-fourths part lemon and half an egg white. The cocktail is designed to be built in the glass and topped with micro mint lime, he says.

Alcohol brands also are creating for when you need a refreshing beverage on a hot summer day. Hendricks Gin recently released its Midsummer Solstice Gin to the U.S. market, while also launching a new cocktail by Sebastien Derbomez. The Midsummer Spritz features 1.5-ounces of Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice, 0.5-ounces of elderflower liqueur, topped with soda water and fresh lemon. Derbomez suggests finishing it off with a flower and cucumber garnish.

Another brand playing in the refreshing summer cocktail field is CÎROC with its new Summer Watermelon Vodka. The Watermelon Colada features 2-ounces of CÎROC Summer Watermelon, 1-ounce of pineapple juice, 0.5-ounces of Crème of Coconut, 0.5-ounces of lime juice and Peychaud bitters. It is designed to be served with rocks of crushed ice and topped with a watermelon triangle, the company says.

The industry also is trending toward low- or no-alcohol craft beverages, experts say. These no-alcohol beverages now are dubbed mocktails and increasingly are becoming popular. “I believe mocktails compliment what we do,” Boulud Sud’s Welsh says. “Utilizing syrups for mocktails as well as cocktail programs has always been important to me. We are giving people healthier options to boring old soda.”

Marnie Rae, founder of National Mocktail Week realized that creative and delicious, yet zero alcohol “adult beverages” mainly were not an option in bars and restaurants. She then took it upon herself to create a movement to make mocktails a new standard.

One of her specialties is the Frozen Avocado “Margarita.” This mocktail is made by combining one ripe, peeled and pitted avocado, two cups of ice, 4-ounces of fresh lime juice, 4-ounces of fresh orange juice, one-fourth cup of fresh cilantro leaves, one-fourth cup of fresh basil leaves and a pint of salt. Blend until smooth and top with a lime garnish, Rae suggests.

As new trends and ingredients continue to pop up, mixologists also will continue to create new and exciting beverages the industry has not yet seen. BI