What will be trending in 2018? We looped back with our experts to get their industry predictions.
2018 will see more health-inspired drinks on the menus. Not just changing the color with charcoal, but using more superfood ingredients like Turmeric, infusing antioxidant-heavy ingredients (blueberries and ginger) and using coconut water instead of syrupy sodas. 2018 is the year of “we are what we drink!”
Regional Director, Emerging Craft Brands
Breakthru Beverage Group
Frosé, and Beyond!
Negronis, Old Fashioneds, Whiskey Smashes—2018 will see a lot of really good frozen cocktails pulling through those machines.
- Jill Sites
Beer in cocktails will take a different twist, with beer serving as a modifier rather than just another ingredient. So, a hoppy IPA can be a replacement for a bittering ingredient or a citrusy lime pilsner in a Gin Fizz. People may not have figured out how to wrap their arms around beer cocktails just yet, but I think 2018 will be the year.
- Jill Sites
Vintage Wine: 2014 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
The 2014 vintage in Oregon was almost uniformly perfect. In the Willamette Valley, an early start with months of warm, dry and consistent weather led to an early harvest of perfectly ripe grapes. The resultant wines are powerhouses of red fruit intensity balanced by good acidity. Since the conditions were so excellent, this is a large harvest and wines should be readily available. It is not often that high quality and high yields occur in the same vintage, so take advantage of this bounty.
Vice President of Luxury Wines
Accounts are striving to promote service along with high-quality drink programs. Draft cocktails are a great way for an account to showcase hand-crafted, balanced cocktails with speed and consistency, along with cost savings. In 2018, I see professional bartenders striking a balance between high-quality and great service.
Mixologist and Field Sales Manager
New England-Style, “Hazy” IPAs
I believe we will continue to see the debate rage on regarding New England-Style, or “Hazy” IPAs because it is a brewing trend that is extremely polarizing.
Fans praise New England Style IPAs as an innovative expression of IPA that showcase hop aroma, hop flavor and mouthfeel over the hazy appearance. Detractors cry foul on the cloudy appearance and sometimes gritty mouthfeel.
Despite the debate, the truth is that there is strong consumer demand for this unofficial beer style, particularly at the local level. It is a juicy, hoppy brew that is meant to be consumed as fresh as possible, and it plays perfectly into the wheel house of small, nimble breweries who can react quickly to trends and are not tied into massive production runs. Regardless of the appearance, if it tastes like hop juice, it will likely sell. Quickly.
Certified Cicerone® and Craft Beer Specialist
Irish Whiskey/Scotch Whisky
While American whiskey continues to enjoy its considerable boom, I see 2018 as a year that Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky show increased traction in the U.S. market. Single malt Scotch set record export sales in 2016 (after years of decline) and Irish whiskey exports are expected to double by 2020, so I think U.S. consumers and industry professionals alike are expanding their whiskey horizons and the distilleries overseas are ready to meet the demand. One thing I hope to see is the continued growth of specialty cask finishes which have proven to work exceptionally well with Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey.
Beverage Development Specialist
French Sparkling Wines
I believe sparkling wine consumers will evolve towards French sparkling wines, especially the $15-$30 category. Prosecco introduced us to affordable bubbles, and now we will progress to a higher price. French sparkling wines provide pedigree, credibility and image to compel trials above $15 but below $30.
Vice President of Wine
Simple Classic Cocktails
During recent years, I’ve seen drink menus skew towards more esoteric, awe-inspiring, Instagram-able cocktails. I think consumers are beginning to experience palate fatigue from the complicatedness and 2018 will show a return to more focused, streamlined cocktails with fewer ingredients. If it’s any indication, a 2017 survey of the World’s 50 Best Bars ranked the Old Fashioned as the #1 classic cocktail and it doesn’t get any simpler than whiskey, sugar, water, and bitters.
- Mike Henderson
Agave, Agave, Agave
The thirst for authentic agave spirits was a dynamic trend for 2017, and I don’t expect it to slow down in 2018. Be it tequila, mezcal, or even more obscure indigenous Mexican spirits such as raicilla or sotol, we saw an increased demand and sell-through almost across the board. From well-established brands to first-time market entries, it’s a good time to be drinking and selling these spirits. I think today’s consumer really seeks out authenticity and tradition, and those are hallmarks of these categories.
Beverage Development Specialist
Bartenders and trade are looking to add products made locally to their menus. This is nothing new, but they’re also looking for a story behind their cocktails. This past year, the Rickey was huge in DC because there is a great story behind it—it originated in DC, which resonated in this market. Bartenders found ways to make an updated twist on the cocktail.
Trade Marketing Manager
Consumer Demand for Craft
For so many categories, consumer demand for craft is driving the growth. Coffee, snacks, cereal—the craft iterations of the categories are thriving. Craft spirits is enjoying this same surge. People enjoy the unique, authentic and premium qualities of craft.
Regional Director Emerging—Craft Brands
Breakthru South Region
2018 will be the return of the chic dive bar! They’ve always been a great neighborhood hangout, but now many are adding craft beer and craft cocktails to their menus.
Account Development Specialist
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