One of the more interesting and, dare I say, fun parts of starting a new year is looking at beverage data.
I’m not talking about which spirits categories are dominating (whiskey and tequila, anyone?), craft brewer sales (5 percent growth by volume in 2017), or which domestic red wine varietal is number one among consumers (it’s Cabernet Sauvignon…it’s always Cabernet Sauvignon).
That information is certainly valuable and can help you make smart menu programming and inventory decisions. But what I’m talking about are the predictions made by industry experts in the know.
We’ve shared predictions made by Bacardí brand ambassadors, which include drinking with a social cause, a focus on fun, an Irish whiskey boom, and consumer interest in Italian spirits. Cocktail competitions can also provide insight into cocktail trends, as Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS has proven since 2009. We looked at three trends in October of last year that were highlighted during the World Class Global Final Berlin 2018, one of which was the impact of social media on the industry.
This time, we’re checking out what beverage predictions bar pros across the pond and down under have made. Diageo Bar Academy turned to Jon Hughes, Alex Kratena and Tim Philips (presented in alphabetical order) for their 2019 beverage trend predictions. Hughes holds the title of group operations manager for three fantastic bars in Edinburgh, capital of Scotland: Bramble, the Last Word, and Lucky Liquor Co. He predicts that low-ABV cocktails will rise in popularity this year. He explained on the Diageo Bar Academy website that lower-strength drinks address the increasing value placed on consumer and staff self-care. Such cocktails require a bartender to focus on flavor and understanding spirits that have traditionally played second fiddle to higher-proof counterparts, says Hughes.
Kratena has earned a long list of accolades throughout his career. He helmed London’s famed Artesian bar, founded drinks industry collective and non-profit P(OUR), and is slated to open Tayēr + Elementary with Monica Berg this spring in London. He predicts hyper-locality will be a trend in 2019. As he wrote on the Diageo Bar Academy website, “Sourcing ingredients locally isn’t a choice anymore, it’s a necessity.” Concern for the environment, a desire to bring an end to exploitative product gathering and production methods, food scandals, and a search for local and regional identities by both consumers and bartenders are driving the hyper-local movement, according to Kratena, and I’m inclined to agree. Kratena points out that sourcing hyper-local products can be hard work, but it’s well worth the effort.
Read this: World Class Cocktail Trends for 2019
Philips is nearing two decades in the industry, during which he has become the most decorated bartender in Australia. During his career he has tended bars in Melbourne, London, France and New York City, to say nothing of his guest bartending appearances. Philips is the co-owner of Dead Ringer and Bulletin Place in Sydney. His prediction is also a call to action: sustainability. In his opinion, one that certainly carries weight, our industry has made progress in becoming more sustainable. However, Philips isn’t shy in saying that we have a long way to go, nor should he be. He points to consumer interest in supporting greener businesses, and that it has become easier to run a greener operation: “It’s simple: use as much as you can and compost what you cannot,” he writes.
What’s notable about these forecasted trends isn’t just that they’re very likely accurate—they were made by recognized bar pros. What’s striking are the inferences of these predictions. First, sure, different countries and different societies value different things. And yet, we’re all much more alike than we may think. Second, the argument can certainly be made that the internet and prevalence of social media has made the world smaller. And third, each prediction has health- and ethics-based implications, signaling a shift in the industry.