10 International Drink Trends
1. Bespoke Glassware
At many bars, glasses have become as one-of-a-kind as the cocktails in them. Acclaimed Danish designer Cecilie Manz created special flutes and wineglasses for Copenhagen's Nimb hotel bar (their shapes were inspired by the tulips in the city's Tivoli Gardens). And the Artesian bar in London's Langham Hotel uses glasses designed by John Jenkins, including a Victorian seltzer glass and a "fat cocktail" glass that holds a pint of liquid.
2. Drinks As Herb Gardens
For plenty of mixologists, the more herb sprigs in a drink, the better (extra credit for using micro-herbs, or for growing herbs at the bar, as Adam Seger does at Chicago's Nacional 27). Angus Winchester smacks a mint sprig over his Gone Native.
3. Super-Spicy Cocktails
The newest ingredients in cocktails: chiles. That means fresh chiles muddled into a drink or added as a garnish, a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and even chile pastes and hot sauces mixed into cocktails, such as the Indonesian sambal oelek that's stirred into the Wild Colonial.
4. Colder-Than-Ice Spirits
Elite mixologists like Hidetsugu Ueno of Tokyo's Bar High Five use spirits at different temperatures—sometimes colder than ice, sometimes not—to change the viscosity of the drink and add texture. Accordingly, some new bar refrigerators have a range of below-freezing zones.
5. New Rising-Star Spirits
Genever, a centuries-old Dutch spirit, is replacing vodka in drinks like the Vanilla-Berry Crush. Bartenders are sourcing more sophisticated mezcals, tequila's smoky cousin, as distilleries buy agave from remote regions of Mexico. Mezcal is a frequent substitute for tequila in cocktails like the Maguey Sour. And boutique distilleries are making small-batch pisco, Peru's national spirit; mixologist Hans Hilburg of El Pisquerito in Cuzco highlights it in his Cholo Fresco.
6. Tiki's Comeback
Tiki is back, and bartenders are taking it seriously, sourcing excellent rums from specific Caribbean islands and South American countries. Jeff Berry, who has chronicled tiki trends for nearly two decades, includes several outstanding tiki recipes (like the Kon-Tini) in the Rum chapter.
7. Avant-Garde Bar Tools
Mixologists are adding ever more unconventional tools to their bar arsenals. They're using atomizers filled with bitters or an intense spirit to flavor a glass or garnish a drink (as in the Alejandro) and cream whippers and nitrous oxide chargers to create flavored foams for topping drinks (like the sweet blueberry foam on the Wormwood Candy).
8. Bitters In Any Flavor
In the last few years, the array of exotically flavored bitters (super-concentrated solutions that flavor drinks) has exploded. Look for more drinks with celery bitters or even the once-elusive Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters (bittermens.com). Bars such as Melbourne's Der Raum even make versions of 19th-century bitters, like the cardamom-spiked Boker's.
9. Micro-Batch Mixers
Drink specialists don't make syrups and bitters just for their own drinks anymore; they're selling them to the public. Jennifer Colliau of the Slanted Door in San Francisco offers her terrific orgeat (almond-flavored syrup) at smallhandfoods.com.
10. The Return Of Liqueurs
With the renewed interest in old-school spirits like pimento dram (the rum-based St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram is a new version of it), mixologists are rediscovering liqueurs. These range from the now-ubiquitous St-Germain elderflower liqueur to fruit-flavored ones, like apricot.