Cocktail Trends 2017

Beverage Trend Forecast: Cocktail Trends for 2017

The buzz around cocktails continues to grow and has expanded outside of trend-setting cities like New York and San Francisco. With the growth of cocktail culture, the perceived cocktail snobbery of hip speakeasies and exclusive bars has begun to subside. Cocktails are becoming more approachable again with amazing concoctions being stirred and shaken in every type of bar and restaurant around. The cocktail trends in 2017 will continue what has already begun: high-end cocktails without the pretension. 

Service Will Shine

Cocktail Trends 2017

When cocktails took off a few years ago, one of the flaws associated with high-minded drinks was bad service. Terms like mixology and speakeasy became dog whistles for hipster service and cold-shouldered barkeeps. The perception that your bartender was a very serious person who cared more about resurrecting dusty cocktail recipes than providing hospitality wasn’t true in all cases.

But cocktails are now fun again. And good service is back at the top of your local bartender’s to-do list. Taking your job seriously is a good thing. Taking yourself too seriously is not. And with a emphasis on good service again, the knowledge and expertise that serious bartenders have can be shared with guests and leveraged to create a great experience.

Pre-batching Cocktails

While the theater of mixing drinks is great for customers, waiting 15-20 minutes for a drink is never fun. That’s why more bars and restaurants are pre-batching their cocktail ingredients to speed up service. Pre-batching cocktails is a smart move, especially in restaurants. And as more restaurants build high-end cocktail programs, you will see more bar managers electing to pre-batch their cocktails to expedite service. Timing in restaurants is crucial, and drinks must be made quickly in order to keep the flow of service intact. You can’t wait 15 minutes for a cocktail if you’re food arrives in 10 minutes.

Looking for new ideas for your beverage program? Download Uncorkd’s ebook How to Increase Beverage Sales by Modernizing Your Bar.

Good Ice

Cocktail Trends 2017

Photo by Adrian Flores

A slow-building trend in cocktail bars is an obsession with ice. But before you scoff at the idea of an “ice program” and label it cocktail snobbery, there is smart science driving ice programs. The ice you mix a cocktail with or use to chill your drink ultimately dilutes your drink and will affect the flavor and full experience of the cocktail. It stands to reason that ice matters.

One of the first ice programs to gain notoriety in the cocktail world was started at The Aviary in Chicago. The Aviary actually has an ice chef on staff. And they aren’t the only ones. Cocktail havens GreenRiver and The Sixth, both in Chicago, have in-house ice programs now, too. And while full-on ice programs won’t be a staple in every bar across the country,  a new appreciation for ice will make an impact in the industry. There are even ice companies who supply bars with cocktail ice.

There is also a lot of fun you can have with flavored ice and how that can affect a cocktail. At The Sixth, they serve a cocktail called Silly Rabbit that uses flavored ice cubes representing different pieces of Trix cereal.


Glassware is a big deal for beer. Certain beers call for specific glassware to be served in. And cocktail bars have long been serving libations in ornate glassware. It’s like bringing out the good China for a holiday meal. Martini glass have been swapped out for coupes and other stemmed ware like Nick and Nora glasses.

But cocktails bars are also using kitschy glassware that brings some goofy fun to cocktails. Often reflective of the drink being served, the glassware is an extension of the drink. Take a look at this cocktail served in a snow globe.

House Made

A cool, DIY-trend taking over the bar scene is bars making their own bitters, sodas, and tonics. This is a great way for bartenders to get creative and potentially cut costs.

You’re only limited by your imagination when you make your own flavors in house. Though making your own tonic can be labor intensive at times, the results are worth it. Experimenting with spices and fruits will give you different flavor profiles and unique pairings. Creating tonics with specific liquors in mind builds a stronger connection between a liquor and its mixer. It’s a great way to take something simple, say, a gin and tonic, and put a unique twist on it with a flavored tonic.

Looking for new ideas for your beverage program? Download Uncorkd’s ebook How to Increase Beverage Sales by Modernizing Your Bar.

More Beverage Trends to come

Read our Wine Trends for 2017

Read our Beer Trends for 2017

This was the second article to highlight Uncorkd’s Beverage Trends Forecast for 2017. Look for our next segment on restaurant technology trends for 2017.

Kyle Thacker