Aperol Spritz? That is like SO last season. 2014 probably saw you creaming over craft beers, falling deeper in to your love affair with burgers and thinking you were on trend sipping Spritz’ al fresco.
But just like fashion, a new year brings new things - so it's out with Old Fashioneds, over with secret stairways to speakeasies and no more long waits at the bar whilst the barman overcomplicates your drink.
It's 2015, and we say try something new this year.
From getting your smoke on with some mezcal to Vermouth becoming a 'thing' and subbing out booze altogether, faux-style (WHAT?), we’ve got the low down from London’s biggest boozehounds on what's hot for 2015:
BarChick Says - We’re suckers for mezcal and can’t get enough of tequila’s sexy smoky sister. Mezcal is big news on menus right now and what used to be an unknown spirit is getting worked into some good sh*t. Kick off your new habit at 184 Hackney Road and El Nivel who specialise in the stuff, and if you want to get naughty with it, it’s El Camion all the way. Don’t know what it is? No sweat, we’ve got an idiot's guide so get swatting up.
Bartenders Say - Jesse Estes from El Nivel and Ocho Tequila explains the recent boom: “We've got more and more great brands getting imported into the UK and you can get a hold of excellent products (like QuiQuiRiQui Matatlan or Del Maguey Vida) without breaking the bank. Mezcal is somewhat of a 'Marmite drink' - either you love it or you hate it - but those that have discovered it and loved it seem like true converts.”
Vermouth and Aperitif Cocktails:
BarChick Says - Vermouth is a fortified wine, made using botanicals including roots, barks, flowers, seeds, herbs and spices. So after our love affair with the Negroni last year as well as the botanical drinking boom this one doesn't surprise us. Vermouth has low ABV (that’s alcohol by volume aka booze percentage) but a seriously punchy flavour, so it's great to sip neat as an aperitif palate cleanser and to compliment bitter cocktails.
Bartenders Say - Ali from Hawksmoor saw this one coming: “I strongly believe Vermouth and aperitif wine cocktails will be making a big step forward this year. Cocchi and their recent success, especially in global finals such as World Class, I believe it featured in around 75% of the finalist’s drinks.” Bruce Govia from Opium suggests that we’ll see “cocktails with lower ABV on menus with Amari and Vermouth taking centre stage.”
BarChick Says - Want to be healthier but giving up drinking always seemed so damn hard? Help is here in 2015 with mega faux-tails hitting menus - and we’re not talking tacky mocktails, these are (almost) the real deal. Peg & Patriot have created gin-tasting faux-tails by distilling the spirit and collecting the by-product aka basically booze flavoured water. Cocktail Trading Co are also on it, serving non-alcoholic cocktails built on standalone flavours - they can be paired with alcohol but aren’t built around a spirit base. We dig it. There’s homemade ginger beer, cordials and tonics also making a wave in the bar scene right now showing that there is a whole lot of fun you can have in bars aside from the booze!
Bartenders Say - Olly Brading from Cocktail Trading Co says “Non-alcoholic cocktails that have the same amount of thought, effort and consideration put into their flavours, presentation and theatre of serve as alcoholic drinks”. With Dominic Whisson from The Savoy’s American Bar suggesting that “a number of artisanal soft drinks companies are popping up which I think could redefine the "spirit n' mixer".
BarChick Says - Pre-batched is big news. White Lyan kicked off by pre-bottling their cocktails, won a sh*t load of awards for it and now it seems the rest of London are following suit. It’s genius really - bartenders love to explain what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, they strive off geeking out, so it seems the perfect solution to fill their out-of-hours cravings. Best of all? That means no queue at the bar for you baby, all the hard work has already been done behind the scenes. Grab that bottle and go.
Bartenders Say - JJ Goodman from LCC is all over it, “the battle of the premixes has commenced and the standard is out of this world!”. Jesse Estes from El Nivel explains why this is great for us drinkers, “we'll see less complex drinks going out due to an increased focus on the guest and customer service above the focus on the cocktails themselves. Because of this, I think we'll continue to see a significant amount of bars pre-batching their cocktails”.
BarChick Says - We’re over the dry ice and theatrical cocktail making, but we still want to have fun (always). Lounge Bohemia started this a few years ago with their eccentric bubble bath drinks, perfume bottles, candy floss and toothpaste tube serves, followed last year with the awesome Bump Caves throwing in some “drug” related tipples. Now others like Shrub and Shutter and Cocktail Trading Co are on it and playtime just took on a whole new meaning.
Bartenders Say - Mike Pendergast from East London Liquor Co thinks this is the perfect excuse for experimenting: “I've done some sinister things with things like Chambord and crème de banane this year. I really hope more bartenders can shake off the ideas of what "you can and can't use" and start having more fun with the drinks and serves.”
So there you have it, quite a lot to look forward to we’d say. You heard it here first.