It’s a new season and a new year, and that means one thing: trend prediction. At Provi, we talk a lot about how the industry is at the mercy of customers’ ever-changing palates, and today, we’re going to dive a little deeper into that. Not only are we going to give you the lowdown on the latest-and-greatest that Spring 2020 will have to offer, but we’re also going to provide tips and tricks that turn those trends into profits. So, enough talk -- let’s get into it.
Spring has sprung, and so it’s no surprise that floral flavors are going to be a major ingredient-du-jour. These types of flavors and ingredients have been quietly popping up on bar menus for a couple of years in their own way. St Germain has been huge for a while now, and floral-infused gins are equally on the map now. Expect the industry to double down on this sensation this year, as these light aromatic flavors pair very naturally with refreshing spring cocktails. Chamomile, Lavender, Rose, and Hibiscus are all going to be common players on cocktail menus this year.
As we said, floral flavors pair very well with most traditional spring cocktails. Lavender or Rosewater can be infused into Bellinis or other bubbly cocktails for a fresh, light take on classic spring sippers. These floral components create a brightness that provides sweet flavor without being making drinks into sugar-bombs, something customers are surely going to be looking for in 2020. For something even simpler, Jack Rudy Cocktail Company produces an Elderflower tonic that easily levels up the standard G&T.
It’s springtime. People want to sit outside and leisurely pass the time with a handful of drinks. Customers want to enjoy themselves at a nice, slow pace. In recent years, Low ABV beers have risen to prominence, and now, low ABV cocktails are next up. These light, refreshing drinks encourage guests to order three or four, while still enabling them to walk upright at the end of brunch.
These are simple enough -- cut the booze. Formulate cocktails around liqueurs, wine, or champagne instead of hard spirits. For a simple example, consider a St. Germain Fizz. Just a splash of St Germain topped off with lemon and club soda makes for a pleasantly light drink that’s easy to session. Not only do these ‘less is more’ cocktails encourage people to keep ordering, but they create significantly lower pour costs. And we all know what that means: higher profit margins! What’s not to love?
Fermentation and probiotics have been huge on food menus for a couple of years now, and that’s no secret. But recently, they’ve begun to spill over onto cocktail menus everywhere. Most notably, kombucha is having an absolute moment in the world of cocktails, seemingly taking over soda for something sweet and bubbly. In fact, hard kombucha has seen huge growth over the past year. It’s become a direct competitor to the canned cocktail market and shows no signs of slowing down.
Aside from bringing in hard kombucha (which you definitely should), we suggest building some cocktails around kombucha. These light, bubbly drinks pair well with warm weather and give health-conscious patrons something refreshing to drink. Be sure to keep it simple, though -- if someone orders a kombucha cocktail, they probably want to taste the kombucha itself. Don’t get too messy. After all, the more you put into that drink, the more it’s going to cost you to make (from a labor perspective, as well as the simple ingredient costs).
Highballs are so versatile, it’s no surprise that they’re experiencing such a revitalization. The simple combination of booze and soda leaves near-endless room for variety and is a fantastic platform for some savvy trend-stacking. Bartenders can include any spirit they wish in a highball, from aged rum to vodka or whiskey. Alongside that, the options are endless where the soda is concerned.
Although the perfect highball is an art in its own right, any semi-capable bartender could craft a delicious highball with their eyes closed. This means that integrating a highball into your spring menu is a no-brainer. We suggest looking at the highball as a ‘canvas’ that allows you to play with other ingredients. Got some fresh mint that’s not looking so great? Infuse it into soda, and boom, you’ve got a mint highball. Perhaps you want to integrate the floral trend into your menu… consider a hibiscus highball.
Kegged cocktails are an oft-maligned way of serving drinks. But, like anything that is currently considered ‘uncool’, it’s only a matter of time before kegged cocktails are the hot new thing. And although they are not exactly new (festivals and events are filled with batched cocktails), the kegged cocktail is finding its place in the craft cocktail scene.
Speed of service aside, there are numerous benefits to pre-batched cocktails. They expedite inventory and stock taking, reduce waste, and even save on ice and other energy-consuming products. The argument against kegged cocktails has always been centered around freshness, but we’d say bar owners just need to know what to keg.
How to Make it Happen:
As a rule of thumb, avoid kegging or batching fresh herbs or aromatics. These are generally best when served a-la-minute. But, consider batching things like Moscow Mules that can be easily dispensed without sacrificing quality. Another great way to integrate kegged cocktails is to create ‘bases’ for cocktails and finish them in the glass. For example, you can batch a measure of gin and tonic syrup. Dispense it into the glass, and then top with soda. Just like that, you’ve got the quickest G&T in town. This type of batching speeds up service, while providing a reliably consistent product.
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