These cocktail trends are heading for your glass


The Tahona Society’s Collective Spirit Project competition kicked off last month at Living Room in Maboneng. With a full day’s program, the event was jam-packed with inspiring and educational presentations from brand ambassadors and expert bartenders. Winners of the competition will be announced soon and we’re eagerly awaiting the results!

World renowned bartender and International brand ambassador Simon Kirstenfeger presented top hospitality and cocktail trends from around the world which placed a heavy focus on sustainability and wellness.

Here are the highlights from his presentation, along with cocktail inspo for you to drink the trends.

1. Local produce, lower carbon footprint

Hand-crafted syrups, preserves, infusions, and tinctures are taking centre stage as bartenders look to make the most of in-season local produce instead of sourcing expensive imported produce which comes at a huge cost to their carbon footprint.

Try this: Mexican Fruit Cup with Seasonal Fruit

2. Revival of classic cocktails

From retro to tiki, cocktails are undergoing one revival after another, but classic cocktails still have a strong place on the menu and are not in danger of dying out any time soon. The classic cocktail revival is thriving with the focus shifting to high quality ingredients and authenticity.

Try this: Classic Old Fashioned Cocktail

3. Healthy alternatives

Herbs, fresh vegetables, and teas are entering the cocktail world so don’t be surprised when you spot a healthier Beetroot Bloody Mary or sugar-free drinks on the menu.

Try this: Blueberry and Basil Gimlet

4. Food pairing

Not just for the exclusive domain of sommeliers! Bartenders are spending more time researching flavours and ingredients, leading to a richer drinking and dining experience. Look out for cocktails and food pairings that tell a story about the ingredients with both educated and brave pairings!

Read this: Reconsidering the Cocktail’s Seat at the Table

5. Low ABV drinks

Younger Millennials and Generation Z are moving towards lower alcohol drinks and I’m glad to see this trend taking off. Expect to see alcohol-free or low alcohol cocktails crafted with as much care and attention to detail as the classic boozy kind. Cobblers, spritzers, sugar-free, and low alcohol RTDs are this Summer’s biggest (and most responsible) hit.

Try this: Aperol Spritz recipe

6. Bottle aged cocktails

Bottle aged cocktails are still a fairly new concept in South Africa. I first encountered a bottle aged cocktail at the Pan African Rum Festival and was pleasantly surprised. Bottle-aged cocktails tend to be smoother, richer, and spicier. They also tend to more complex.

Read this: The Difference between Bottle-aged, Barrel-aged and Steel-aged cocktails

7. TapTails

Cocktails on tap is another trend that I am living for this Summer. These are perfect for when all you want is a simple cocktail without the theatre of the bartender preparing each ingredient, just pour and go. Where to find a draft cocktail? Try Baha Taco in Norwood for the fresh G&Ts.

Read this: Easy-to-make pre-batched cocktails

8. Coffee and teas get in on the action

Think tea syrups, cold brews, and infusions. With bartenders becoming more educated about their ingredients, and the introduction of healthier cocktail mixers, be prepared to see more teas and coffees entering the cocktail menu.

Try this: Jasmine Tea Margarita

More about the competition:

Instead of coming up with a theme for yet another cocktail competition, The Tahona Society by Altos Tequila invited bartenders from around the world to come up with an idea that will benefit bar staff, customers, the community and the environment. The challenge was to design and enact a project big or small for better sustainable bar practices, local community interaction and bar staff well-being.

A completely new approach to bartender competitions, this is the next step in the Tahona Society’s mission to educate bartenders and create an opportunity to get the industry involved in a project that reflects Altos’ policy of We Care – Our People, Our Planet.

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