Cocktails, like fashion, tend to run on a cycle. What's popular one decade becomes outdated the next—only to reemerge years later with a new twist. (That very trendy gimlet you've been ordering used to be seen as an old lady's drink.) So we wanted to know: What's going to be the It cocktail next?
We talked to the crème de la crème of bartenders, mixologists,and beverage experts to get the scoop. The consensus? Old-fashioned cocktails are still having their heydey, with low-alcohol spritzes and tiki drinks making a big comeback. And when in doubt? Order a good daquiri.
Here, a guide to the emerging cocktail scene—you can consider this your boozy version of runway trends. (But honestly, much more useful, right?)
1. Low-Alcohol Cocktails and Spritzes
"Low-alcohol cocktails are gaining popularity as they focus on flavor over potency," says Pamela Wiznitzer, USBG NY President and Creative Director at Seamstress, NYC. "The 50/50 Manhattan is delicious, and definitely a version of the classic you can expect to see more of. I use Maker's Mark Bourbon, which is sweet and balanced from the use of red winter wheat. Pair it with sweet vermouth in a 50/50 proportion."
Wiznitzer recommends: The 50/50 Manhattan
1 ½ parts Marker's Mark
1 ½ parts sweet vermouth
2-3 dashes bitters
Natural Maraschino cherry for garnish
To make: In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients over ice and stir. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a cherry.
"I loving the farm to glass movement and low-alcohol cocktails that coming onto the scene," says Stephen Warner, Head Bartender at Lo Spiedo. "Fresh and refreshing, you can enjoy a few without worrying about a hang-over the next day. Something I enjoy is a garden spritz of fresh cucumber juice, cantaloupe juice, Art in the Age Sage Liquor and a splash of sparkling white wine."
Warner recommends: Stephen's Spritz
1.5 oz each cucumber and cantaloupe juice
1 oz Art in the Age Sage Liquor
Splash of sparkling white wine
To make: Pour liquor and juices on ice and top with a splash of sparkling white wine.
"I'm noticing more and more people ordering Bitter ingredients," says Natasha David, Bartender at Nitecap. "I think people are growing tired of overly sweet cocktails, and crave something savory. A lot of it comes from the changes in our food culture. Look at what kind of lettuces are now just common place—arugula, radicchio—all bitter. I also think drinking culture in general is taking a little shift—you have much more people starting the night off with something light, like an Aperol Spritz or Campari Soda and then on the opposite end of that, people are coming in after dinner ordering Negronis or Amaros neat."
David recommends: Aperol Spritz
3 parts Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 part soda water
Slice of orange
To make: Pour all three over ice, garnish with orange.
"I believe the next big drink people will be ordering is the Americano," says Brahm Callahan, Beverage Director for Himmel Hospitality Group: Grill 23 & Bar, Post 390, & Harvest. "It is essentially the Negroni, without the gin. It is a nice appertivo drink, to start any meal. Additionally, it has alow alcohol contentallowing for the diner to have multiple Americanos before feeling the effect. This drink is also a favorite of mine because it is a stimulant for the digestive system. I see people ordering this drink frequently in the future!"
Callahan recommends: The Americano
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
Splash of Soda Water
To make: Pour the Campari and vermouth over ice, add a splash of soda.
2. Tiki Drinks and Daquiris
"I would have to say a Jungle Bird cocktail would be my 'it' cocktail right now," says Bill Brooks, beverage director at Resto and the Cannibal. "It definitely hits that tiki theme that everyone is riding. With the Campari, you also get the cross over from everyone doing frozen negronis all summer long."
Brooks recommends: The Jungle Bird
1.5 oz black strap rum
.75 oz Campari
.5 oz lime
.5 oz simple syrup
1.5 oz pineapple juice
To make: Combine all the ingredients and shake, serve over crushed ice in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a thick slice of pineapple.
"I believe the next big cocktail people will be ordering is an authentic tiki cocktail," says Kim Haasarud, brand mixologist for Omni Hotels & Resorts. "The tiki drink trend is exploding, as we see more homemade syrups being used in these cocktails as opposed to artificial syrups. An example of a popular Tiki cocktail is the Eastern Sour."
Haasarud recommends: Eastern Sour
1 ½ ounce Bourbon
1 ½ ounce Orange Juice
½ ounce Simple Syrup
1 ounce Lime Juice
½ ounce Orgeat
To make: Shaken all ingredients and strain into glass, and top with bitters. Garnish with orange slice.
"One of my fellow bartenders calls this summer The Summer of the Daquiri and I think he's right," says Michael Longshore, head bartender at Vaucluse and Altamarea Group. "Daiquiris are riding the coat tails of the tiki movement, but their appeal is (possibly) further ranging because of their simplicity. They're the plain cheese slice of drinks—it's really hard to have a bad one, and a great one is sublime. They're easy to make, easy to drink, and most bars have the top shelf (dark rums, aged rums, maraschino for a Hemingway) to make things interesting for the connoisseur."
Longshore recommends: The Daquiri
1/2 oz sugar syrup
1 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz light rum
Can be made tall or short, double-strained, blended, or served over crushed ice.
"The industry darling right now is the daiquiri," says Anne-Louise Marquis, brand ambassador for Grand Marnier. "Not the frozen kind you get on Bourbon street in a grenade—but the proper one- balanced just right. There are lots of variations."
1.5 oz white rum
.5 oz Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach
1 oz lime juice
.5 oz simple syrup
Shake and strain. Serve up.
3. Old-School Cocktails
"A big trend right now is a drink called a Boulevardier," says Keith Nelson, Beverage Director for Tao Downtown, Tao Uptown, Arlington Club, Lavo Italian Restaurant. "This is a modern twist on what is usually a stuffy bitter drink for older people. Brown spirits are huge right now, and the variations are endless for this cocktail. There are also more high quality vermouths in the market right now than ever. A great one that I use frequently is Carpano Antica."
Nelson recommends: The Boulevardier
1 part Campari
1 part Vermouth
1 part Whiskey
To make: Stir together.
"Classic cocktails reinvented have become increasingly popular," says Sarah Landry, Beverage Manager at The Florentine. "I see the Tom Collins making a much deserved come back. Right now at the Florentine for fall, we are doing our take on the Tom Collins–the Trip Home, using Hendricks Gin and a house made rosemary and clove simple syrup."
Landry recommends: The Trip Home
2 oz. Hendricks Gin
1 oz. Rosemary & Clove Simple Syrup
.5 oz Lemon
Soda to top it off
To make: Combine gin, rosemary & clove simple syrup, and lemon; shake and strain over ice in Collins glass; top with soda. Garnish with a lemon peel with cloves, if desired.
"I think reinvented classic cocktails with long forgotten spirits are going to be big–my favorite being the Vieux Carré," says Cody Goldstein, Head Bartender at Upholstery Store: Food and Wine. "The cocktail typically uses a mix of rye and cognac but I love the use of an extra añejo tequila here. Specifically, I'm using QUI Tequila, which is the first platinum extra añejo, which results in a brighter cocktail – both in color and flavor. While it's hard to predict the future, I'm definitely seeing the use of 'old-school' spirits in cocktails already and they're only becoming more popular. Reaching into your liquor cabinet and using things like Jägermeister, Benedictine, and Limoncello is a good place to start…or try the classic or reinvented version of the Vieux Carré."
Goldstein recommends: The Vieux Carré
¾ part QUI Tequila
¾ part cognac
¾ part sweet vermouth
¼ part Benedictine
1 dash Peychaud Bitters
1 dash angostura bitters
Lemon twist, to garnish
To make: Chill a coup glass in the fridge. Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir for 10 seconds and strain into the coup glass. Zest lemon over the glass, rinse the rim with peel and drop in cocktail.
"The old fashioned has made a huge come back in recent years and like the Negroni, a lot of bartenders are starting to play with variations...barrel aged, smoked, etc.," says Vincent Mauriello, Gerber Group's Managing Partner and Beverage Program Coordinator for NYC's The Roof, Whiskey Blue, Whiskey Park, Irvington, and Mr. Purple. "Since añejo tequila has very similar characteristics to bourbon, a tequila-based variation works very well. There also happens to be some great anejo tequilas coming out these days. We will be featuring this cocktail at our bars this fall."
Mauriello recommends: The Tequila Old Fashioned, AKA the New Fashioned
2 oz Casamigos Anejo Tequila
1 teaspoon Demerara syrup
2 dashes of angostura bitters
2 dashes of regans Orange bitters
To make: Stir and strain over 1 large cube of ice. Garnish with a lemon and orange peel.
"Out with the sweet, in with the spicy. Adult beverages should not taste like candy, which is why this new twist on the Moscow Mule will have all the grown-ups talking," says Jason Kupuski, Head Mixologist for Queen of the Night. "The unique mix of Fernet and Ginger Beer will enhance any meal and stimulate your taste buds, making each sip better than the last."
Kupuski recommends: The Queen's Cure
¼ oz Absinthe
1 oz Fernet Branca
¼ oz Cinnamon infused Simple Syrup
2 oz of Ginger Beer
½ oz Lime Juice
To make: Rinse your highball glass with absinthe and leave the remainder of the liquor in the glass. Fill your shaker half way with ice. Add the Fernet Branca, Lime Juice and Cinnamon infused Simple Syrup to the shaker and shake till you have a even consistency. Add two ounces of ginger beer and lightly stir cocktail. Garnish with a lime.
Note: Fernet is an Amaro — Italian for "bitter"— and resides in the same family as Averna and Campari. The molasses-hued liquid's secret blend of approximately 40 herbs, spices and fungi like saffron.
"Cachaca helped bring attention to Latin American spirits other than Tequila, specifically Pisco. Pisco isn't new, but with everyone loving to revive old school cocktails, the Pisco Sourcould make a big comeback," says Kyle Kensrue, Certified Cicerone and General Manager at Randolph Beer.
Kensrue recommends: Pisco Sour
2 oz Pisco
1 Egg white
3/4 oz Simple syrup
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
To make: Vigorously shake and strain contents in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes, then pour into glass and garnish with angostura bitters and cinnamon.