If your favorite bartender looks a little bleary-eyed tonight, that's because the tenth annual Tales of the Cocktail the conferencecumfestivalcummulti-day drinking party that's become central to the spirits business wrapped up in New Orleans this past weekend. While there, we took the opportunity to ask the people on the front lines what big booze movements they see coming over the next days, months, and even years. Read on to see what they had to say.
Aaron Polsky, Amor y Amargo (New York)
"I want to see the paradigm shifted from the classics to something completely new. Flavorful, non-alcoholic liquids used as modifiers in cocktails."
Abigail Gullo, SoBou (New Orleans)
"I like to use alternative sweeteners. Everything from homemade infusions with spices, herbs, and fruit to maple, agave, honey, and even local syrups like Steens Cane Syrup here in Louisiana. It’s like a rich demerara syrup with a hint of molasses."
Alba Huerta, Anvil Bar & Refuge (Houston)
"I'd like to see all of us embrace the service side and continue to have a drinking culture that enjoys quality and sustainability. But overall to have a good time."
Audrey Saunders, Pegu Club (New York)
"Are people talking about fun? Because we feel strongly about fun."
Chad Solomon, Cuffs & Buttons consulting
"I feel like all the things I've said in the past, I'm still waiting for them to happen. Like tech and aroma. But in particular, overproof cognac. With the reintroduction of overproof cognacs, we can now revive classic cognac cocktails which have been shortchanged in the latest cocktail revolution."
Damon Boelte, Prime Meats (Brooklyn)
"I want bartenders to talk to customers again. I would like to see the new guard of cocktail bartenders start to realize that they are still bartenders and treat their customers like customers. Go back to the Golden Rule, treat others as you want to be treated." Or, he adds, "Fucking cocktail trucks!"
Gary Regan, cocktail legend
"What I've seen this year more than anything else is 'throwing' cocktails. It's a Spanish innovation, where bartenders pour from the shaker to the glass at a height of maybe three to four feet. It aerates the drink a little bit and it's showy as all hell."
Jay Kosmas, Employees Only (New York) & Marquee Grill & Bar (Dallas)
"In terms of trends I think the cocktail has arrived — it's in every city in this country. And now we have to remember to take what we've learned here and make it accessible to those who those who have not experienced a proper cocktail."
Jim Meehan, PDT (New York)
(With Dushan Zaric, Employees Only and Macao Trading Company) "Nineteenth Century cocktails! We've done the twentieth century; we've done tiki and all that. We're going old school. We're going medieval. Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon [of the Merchant in Northern Ireland] are opening a place here and we’ll see what they do ... We have Pok Pok. We have the Experimental Cocktail Club from Paris. And now we’ll have the Dead Rabbit from Northern Ireland. So we're getting the international imports."
Johan Ekelund, Happiness Forgets (London)
JH: Ladies drinking bourbon! Grub Street: We already do that. JH: Not in London.
Jon Lermeyer, Florida Room (Miami)
"I'd like to see bartenders, particularly the ones who attend Tales — the real mixologists — learn more about wine."
Lu Brow, Bar Chef consultant for Commander’s Palace (New Orleans) and the Brennan Family
"I'd like to see clean and simple and fewer ingredients."
Mathew Resler, Empellon Cocina (New York)
"For people to stop paying attention to who pours it, but to pay attention to what is in the glass. I have had amazing cocktails at the 'best' cocktail lounges across the country and I've had shit cocktails at the 'best' cocktail lounges ... the same can be said for dive bars."
Maxwell Britten, Maison Premiere (Brooklyn)
"Low-proof cocktails featuring things like amaros."
Michael Neff, Ward III & The Rum House (New York)
"I would like to see people be braver behind the bar. Mixologists need to learn how to be bartenders."
Naomi Schimek, The Spare Room (Los Angeles)
"What I would like to see in the coming year is a greater awareness of the importance of sustainability. I would like to see more brands take a stand against using pesticides and genetically modified crops in their spirits."
Sabrina Kershaw, Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar (Boston)
"People are still looking to the classics for inspiration and putting their own spin on it. It's okay to have a blended drink or a blue drink on the menu. Have fun with it. Tiki is back and I'm so happy. Who doesn't like an umbrella in their drinks?"
Tristan Willey, Booker & Dax (New York)
(With Dave Arnold) "Higher accountability in terms of ingredients. With such knowledge floating around now about sustainability and quality of ingredients people know. They're not ignorant about it anymore. They spend more time at the farmers' market than ever before."
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