Cocktail Trends for 2008
by Christopher Hicks
(Colorado Springs )
The busy season is finally here and it is up to us, the cocktail professionals, to once again come up with a bevy of refreshing libations to please the palate and satiate the thirst. What cocktails will we market to draw the aimless wanderer into our pubs and lounges? Which trends in the business are ultimately going to succeed this season, and which are doomed to failure? These are the questions discussed herein.
One trend that I have kept an eye on is that of prepackaged alcoholic energy drinks. Ginseng, Guarana and Taurine are turning up everywhere these days; in vodka (Zygo energy vodka, malt liquor (Joose Tropical Malt Liquor), and even in Bloody Mary mixes (Hot-D Bloody Mary mix)! I’ve had the misfortune to have sampled a variety of these new items and while alcohol content and the energy was there, the actual taste of the items has been sacrificed in lieu of marketability. So far the concept itself seems to have been enough of a draw for sales, and there isn’t enough competition for taste to really come into play. I like the concept quite a bit, but it is a trend that can go either way depending on whether or not there is a push for the development of higher quality beverages. As a gimmick it can certainly be something worth incorporating into your bar service. The various energy vodkas in particular, while not very good on their own, can be used as an ingredient to add a little extra boost to traditional libations, such as the cosmopolitan.
As always fresh ingredients are a highly sought after commodity, and with the growing season swinging in to full gear, bar chefs, mixologists, bartenders, and cocktail enthusiasts are swarming the finer food emporiums looking for that one great item that will add just the perfect amount of flavor to a given cocktail. Infusions have been huge in the past few years and I don’t really see the horizon on this trend yet. I, myself, am in the process of three infusions to create Huckleberry Liqueur (Huckleberry Martini), Rose Petal Liqueur (Red Rose Martini), and Ginger Cachaca (Ginger Caipirinha). Infusions are fun to create, easy to do, and can see a huge return on profits.
More than anything we, those who tend the bar, are always in friendly competition, striving to do what no one else is doing, to use what no one else is using, and to create what no one else has thought of creating. Here in “The Springs” I have seen a boost in margarita sales with the addition of Prickly Pear nectar and Prickly Pear sorbets added to the recipe. According to Par Avion Finer Food Emporium, there has also been a boost in the sale of agave nectar. Last season Caipirinhas made a pretty huge splash at my bar, and this year we hope to continue on that trend by incorporating a lot of infused Cachacas to create a variety of flavored Caipirinhas such as raspberry, peach, and the aforementioned ginger.
With the Colorado Springs smoking ban in effect, patio areas have become almost a necessity to any good restaurant or bar. This translates into a larger volume of sales in the frozen drink arena, as patrons sit in the warm sun and soak up the rays with friends. Cocktails such as the Bahama Mama that had been slowly fading into obscurity, are now finding a new crowd of people eager for something frozen to cool off with. Classics such as the daiquiri (passion fruit daiquiri), margarita (apple margarita), and especially the colada (raspberry pina colada) have been incorporated and infused with large variety of supplemental flavors.
It has been a long and dreary spring season and quite frankly most of us are hungry for warm weather and sunny skies. So whether we are using gimmicky alcohol, infusions, retooled classics, or creating something entirely new, this promises to be a great year for the Colorado Springs Food and Beverage Community.