Evolution of cocktail, coffee cultures

Consumers’ increased concern with the healthfulness of their food has extended into the cocktail arena, where guests are seeking lower alcohol by volume (ABV) cocktails, cocktails made with heathy ingredients and antioxidants, as well as well-made non-alcoholic cocktails. In yesterday’s feature on 2022 menu trends, the discussion focused on food topics such as fine vegan and vegetarian cuisine, as well as exotic yet local cuisines. Today, our attention turns to beverages.

Contributed by Jeanette Hurt

“We’re seeing more of a wellness mindset and a more mindful approach to cocktails,” said Jonathan Knudsen, principal of The Gilded Group, a restaurant group which recently partnered with the Selina Chelsea hotel in New York to launch its F&B concepts. “There are a couple of aspects to this, including lower calorie or lower sugar, being mindful of the mixers used in cocktails that highlight natural, unrefined sugars or ingredients like monk fruit, which is a great, zero calorie sweetener.”

This consciousness extends to ready-to-drink beverages as well. “We are seeing ready-to-drink beverages continue to gain popularity,” said Dana Pellicano, vice president of food and beverage global operations for Marriott International. “Many use high quality ingredients and have low or no-ABV. Marriott created a custom, canned cocktail, the Cara Cara Spritz for a recent event in Orlando that the attendees loved.”

At the Fairmont Taghazout Bay, the signature mocktail menu has been created with the same care as the signature cocktail menu. “We want to make sure that our guests (who don’t drink alcohol) have the same experience as those who drink cocktails,” said Francis Desjardins, the hotel’s general manager.

Mindfulness also extends to wine drinking, said Jans Clemens Wiese, owner of Ciasa Salares, a luxury hotel in San Cassiano, Italy. “Guests are much more interested in the winemaking techniques and the sustainability behind the wine,” Clemens Wiese said.

Guests are also more willing to step outside of their comfort zones. “The biggest trend is the curiosity, to try something they’ve never had before,” Clemens Wiese added. “In the past, I’ve never had a French wine drinker enjoying wines from the south of Italy, for example. This summer, I found I could propose pretty much anything, and the guest would be excited to try new things.”

Martin El Sucio at Selina in New York City includes: blanco tequila, mezcal, lillet blanc aperitif, orange bitters, spritz of housemade olive oil roasted garlic mezcal and a house pickled beech mushroom.

Wine consumption has also increased. “Consumption has grown dramatically,” Clemens Wiese said. “I’ve had many, many tables of four this summer who consumed at least three bottles of wine for dinner, and normally, it would only be one or two.”

Mindful or not, alcoholic consumption is up, and hotels can capture this with mindfully created cocktail menus with creative signature drinks. But the challenge, said Bradley Moore, vice president of food and beverage operations for Evolution Hospitality’s Taste & Theory Group, is that often these drinks take too much time, manpower and bar know-how to make and keep up with demand. The solution, he says, is batched cocktails. “We’re consulting on two rooftop bars, in Dallas and in Atlanta, and I will tell you, the majority of signature drinks are batched,” he said. “We don’t have the skillset or the number of associates to be able to offer the US$14 cocktail guests are seeking without batching, and guests do not know that the cocktails are batched.”

“It’s about how can we streamline but still offer the quality?” added Angela Kuzma, vice president of lifestyle for San Clemente, California-based management company Evolution Hospitality, which operates the Taste & Theory Restaurant Group.

Healthy or healthier drinking also extends into tea and coffee. As far as teas go, “matcha has been there and been done,” Knudsen said. Instead, loose-leaf teas from South America like guyausa are going to be trending.

With coffee, it’s not just for breakfast anymore. “Coffee has become a 20-hour-a-day thing,” Moore said. “I was just at a hotel that had unfortunately closed their coffee outlet at noon, and I counted how many people walked up to the door for coffee. We’re not listening to our guests about this.”

Coffee bars, Moore said, aren’t just about coffee. “They’ll serve juice, sandwiches, and at night, they might serve beer, wine or cocktails,” he said.

Coffee also caters to the post-millennial customer, Kuzma said. “This next generation takes their social responsibilities very seriously, and they look at how alcohol impacts their welfare,” she said. “Instead of having a beer with friends, they’re sitting around and having a cup of coffee.”

1 comment
  1. Dennis Marzella
    Dennis Marzella
    November 3, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    I would like to encourage this trend. There are several excellent 0% alcohol wines and spirits. I recommend Fre brand wine. Also Lyre’s, an Australian company, has a complete line of spirits that parallel the usual classifications. Kentucky 74 nice bourbon alternative. Frequently, sell out. Also, excellent 0% beers. Favorite is Heinken. Have not seen any 0% wines or sparkling in hotels or restaurant. Never seen classic cocktails 0%. Huge opportunity.