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Lost in Catering Mike Palmer
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TEA EVERYWHERE

Tea is trending up this year and we’re seeing it appearing all over the place.  To some extent its been hanging on to coffee’s coattails for some time, but 2015 will see tons more pr for the drink as some of the big brands such as Starbucks dive head first into the space.


And you don’t need to restrict your thinking to the gool ol’ cuppa. No surprise that we’re already seeing more tea based cocktails being poured and we’re not talking Long Island here.  Jasmine, hibiscus and green tea are being mixed with gin, aperol, even tequila.  Absolut have released a Wild Tea variant, and most of our upscale cocktails venues are featuring a huge variety of tea cocktails; delicate clean flavours and spurious anti-hangover claims are keeping the momentum up.  For a great list check out the Bar Chick website.


As well you might want to think about iced tea variants to jazz up your soft drink selection, this summer the high street coffee gang will be maxing out their selections, get in first.  Bubble tea, which popped up last year, has stayed relatively niche, but green tea in smoothies is increasing its presence, might be worth a thought.

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“Why oh why didn’t I invent Pinterest?”.  We know.. we were thinking the same thing.

Face it.. just recently you’ve become a little more breakfast buffet than supper club. 

But don’t panic, it’s a quarter-life crisis, you’ve just got to get yourself back on track.  And we can help.  Below, the drink trends that you’re going to see a whole lot more of over the coming year. 

Get yourself back in on the ground floor..

LONDON BAR + DRINK TRENDS 2015

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COLA BEING REPLACED

This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, but flavour and health trends (that NYC jumbo soda ban has had an effect) are meaning that people are increasingly likely to choose an alternative. That’s why Coke has bought most of them!  Starbucks have launched new soda’s across the US too (plus secret carbonated coffee).. here soon.


So it might be time to have another look at your soft drink selection. Coke themselves have released a new beverage dispenser allowing customers to pimp their Fanta or Coke with flavours such as vanilla, peach or raspberry. It’s on trial in selected Burger Kings now. Increasingly, Vitamin Water and associated products are being favoured. And this year we’ll see a lot more H2O cocktails in various forms - basically water and juice variants which are refreshing but give other benefits, generally health.  This means cucumber water will get traction, coconut water will break out of the supermarkets (where its already big), there’ll be more homemade fresco’s (crushed fruit with mineral water) and expect a lot more wellness drinks. Coca Cola is launching Beautific Oenobiol, a new line of "beauty drinks" which the beverage company claims will help consumers lose weight and provide other well-being benefits.

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HIP HOPS:  CRAFT BEER STILL TRENDING

We don’t often witness people paying more for less these days, with craft beer many do so gladly.  You won’t have missed the rise and rise of craft beer, and if you’re able to avoid a tied drinks deal, you might want to think carefully about how you can embrace this.  Trends for higher flavour, local production and artisan ethics are driving customers to pay more for their beer and we’re seeing a lot of craft only pubs and mini chains opening on the back of the revolution such as The Draft House, Brewdog and Craft Beer Co.  Mitchells and Butlers urban professionals pub brand ‘Castle’ got busy taking away the classic nightmare tied-pub range in favour of an interesting mix of fruit. wheat and American craft beers. Volumes rose.


INTEREST ALERT: One off shoot is that because the price and often alcohol content are ramped up, we’re seeing a lot more half-pints being poured. Therefore, it might be time to upgrade your glassware. As well, watch out for a lot more Scandinavian beer, which is ready to pounce off the back of the Nordic food renaissance.


Where should you try this magic?.. The Draft House are enjoying a roll out with a number of unusual/difficult to find products across their pubs..  Lowlander in Covent Graden is the Belgium specialist and Rich and the gang will help you out with a huge range of fantastic (if pricey) delights, try the Southampton Arms for independent UK brewers. Scottish brewer BrewDog have opened a few across town, give Cask a go in Pimlico and the Craft Beer Co in Clerkenwell.  In Dalston check out Dukes Brew & Que.  Finally, Powder Keg Diplomacy in Clapham is worth a trip as is the Earl of Essex in Islington and the tiny Rake in Borough.


CRAFT CIDER??  Where craft beer leads, cider is sure to follow (with whackier fruit mixes first!). Watch out for the same phenomenon happening for all the same reasons.  It’s the natural next step for the drink. Watch out too for the multi-national brewers upping their craft credentials, even changing packaging colour to darken the appearance. (but not changing the beer).

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MICRO DISTILLERY

Curious local spirits were once the preserve of the cheap 80’s French ski holiday.  Thankfully no longer!  This trend is quietly making its way into the mainstream for all the same reasons as craft beer.  A few years back, Gordon Browns attempt to liven up a particularly dull Budget by relaxing the insane rules around distilling liquor did not, as it turned out, prevent boom and bust.  But it did kick start a small group of passionate ex-Diageo entrepreneurs to bring local Gin back to the masses.  Lots of reasons why this has resonance - mainly anti-corporate/heritage/local/ingredient sourcing. 


So we’re seeing Black Cow Vodka from Dorset, English Whisky from Norfolk, organic vodkas from Sweden, English Oak Smoked Vodka, English Breakfast Marmalade Vodka.. you name it.  Chase and Sipsmith’s have really kicked this off and are getting a lot of recognition.  There’s a host of new distilleries being started across town and wait for a few distillery pubs - mainly because we’re about to start one!


Watch out as well for a return to those ski-trip cocktails.  Where Campari and now Aperol have forged a path, we’re beginning to see people embracing Charteuse and artisan vermouths, still quite niche but worth a thought.

drinks trends 2014
drinks trends

High demand in emerging markets for the big brand stuff has meant the not-strapped-for-cash champagne houses have been steadily inching the prices up. Plus, lets face it, we all suspected they were spending a little bit too much on the advertising!  Growing in popularity are the grower champagnes, which take us back to the notion of wine produced by the same people that own the vineyards. You guessed it, it’s the artisan trend again.  We’re seeing more and more operators moving their lists to growers.  Look up Bubbledogs in London as a good example.


TIP - Look for ‘RM’ in tiny letters at the bottom of the bottle (Récoltant-Manipulant), the proof they ‘manipulate’ their own vines. The brands will have NM (Négociant-Manipulant), sourcing grapes from a number of growers to produce a wine under their own label.

GROWER CHAMPAGNE

cocktail trends 2013

Watch out for more savoury cocktails that are finding a toehold.  Over the last year the Pickleback has taken most of the blog space and these continue in that direction.  Very high flavour, light vinegar chasers or Thai drinking vinegars are on the way.


We’ve seen this coming for a while with people moving beyond sweet and salt, more home pickling etc and Thai and Korean flavours on the up.. palates are more accustomed to it. Lookout for more fermented ingredients and juices, and products labelled as rotten.  Sure, this ain’t going to hit Little Chef or Garfunkels for some time, but you cutting edge guru’s might want to feature.

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HARD SOFTS

As re-imagined junk food continues to cross over into casual dining, (look out for 80’s snacks coming along for the ride!), you might want to turn your thoughts to what should be served alongside. Some of our more progressive operators are pimping the traditional liquid accompaniments, making the whole experience altogether more adult. 


Boozy riffs on classic childhood brews aren’t new, but they are enjoying a renaissance – Calpol shooters anybody? Examples include The Diner who allow you to pimp your shake with a 35ml shot; MeatMarket, in Covent Garden. serve the shakes soft and hard or you can slurp on a Miami Nice, a slush puppy w attitude; at MeatLiquor sit back and enjoy your Lagerita. 

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ICE

It’s not just about the liquid.  Not so long ago ice was considered a luxury, and it still can be.  Many upscale bars have been hacking chunks off ice blocks for some time, and it’s beginning to spread. Gives good theatre and looks great on your front bar; and it melts more slowly which is kind of the main point, after all its supposed to chill your drink not water it down. So look out for serves of slow-melt extra large ice chunks, hand-cut rocks and unusual shapes like stars and hearts.  Y9u just know bars serving glacier ice is coming next, right.


Some, like Bar Boulud, are adding interest in the form of edible flowers or fruit encased in the liquid and watch out for ice suppliers beginning that product line-up. Pollen Street Social also pimp the ice, serving their Negroni with a huge Campari and blood orange ice ball.  The other advantage with spheres is that they de-frost more slowly. Video fans check this out..

cocktail trends 2013
Lost in Catering London Drink Trends
cocktail trends lost in catering
Lost in Catering London Drink Trends
Lost in Catering London Drink Trends
Lost in Catering London Drink Trends
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BOTTLED COCKTAILS

It was only a matter of time before this cocktail trend came back. We’re not talking about shop bought margherita mix here, but high quality, ready to go batch made classics.  Lets face it, maintaining consistency when serving large quantities of cocktails can be fairly tricky.  Training bartenders is killer expensive; the length of time for each serve can be horrific, especially on peak session.  A number of commercial bottled products are available although many have failed to achieve any level of cut-through, presumable because they’re not that great.


In the US we’re increasingly seeing a new cocktail trend forming.. its becoming common to find operators bottling their own drinks ahead of service.  It’s not all about efficiency and consistency though. In fact, the origins began this time around in 2011 when Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon began the trend by ageing their Negroni in a bourbon barrel.  As well as imparting a depth and smoothness to the drink it has kickstarted the volume cocktail movement which has continued since.  It’s worth a thought, SoulShakers, the London based cocktail consultancy work on a number of projects, look up John Salt in Islington for some great examples.  And check out the range at Goodman’s new steak and crab venture.. batch cocktail all the way.

Lost in Catering London Drink Trends
Lost in Catering London Drink Trends

Last time you headed for a wine bar yuppies were wrestling their massive cell phones and Sade was blasting out of the speakers.  You might even have been sporting a shoulder pad.  Well the great news is that wine bars are back and this time around we’re seeing Brooklyn inspired rooms (surprise!), small lists changing often, an absence of pretension, no starched cloths, no lecture from the sommelier and a focus less on heavy-handed education and more on satisfaction, so no extensive tasting notes, no poncy language. 


The heroes begin with Sager & Wilde in Hackney, CVS in Seven Dials, the Zetter in Clerkenwell, L’Entrepot in Hackney, Vinoteca, or the growing band of 28-50’s in London.  We’re likely going to see the trickle down from this influence wine menus across the sector - here’s a masssive lecture which I wrote on it recently.

SECOND WAVE WINE BARS

Lost in Catering London Drink Trends
Lost in Catering London Drink Trends

COLD CRAFT (JUICE)

Keep your eyes out for green juice (vegetable) which is rising in popularity.  The driver here is both health and lack of sugar, and that’s a winning combination for an increasing number of customers. We’re seeing a number of operators featuring juice menus at lunch to drive volume. Hotels are increasingly using the empty lunchtime bars as juice bars, and its quite a nifty way of dialling back your alcohol messaging to drive trade with the fruit masking beer fonts and back bar signalling.  Some hotels like the Mondrian are offering detox bundles but its not widespread yet. 


So juice in general is on the up, but not all juice.  HPP or cold pasteurised is making an appearance.  The benefit here is improved flavour and higher nutrient count, and it gives you an angle. The supermarkets are only just picking up on it.  And then there’s the opposite approach, playing on the current nostalgia trend which means featuring anything from Tropicana to UmBongo.  Look out for Roots & Bulb, Lovage at the Ace Hotel, Shoreditch and a LOT more coming.

ABOUT MEcontact_me.html

I’m a menu and concept developer, living in Brighton and working with the UK’s top restaurant brands. I’m in London most days and this blog is about news, drink and food trends from the bar and restaurant industry and my daily exploration around the City. More about LiC..

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Many of the trends above appear in a LiC article in the Caterer & Hotelkeeper, the UKs biggest circulation trade magazine for teh hospitality industry.http://www.caterersearch.com/Home/

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See, the problem here is that in practice this is actually really hard to do.  I mean if you want to do more than one.  Nevertheless, If you haven’t already, the chances are that you’ll start seeing this house-carbonated cocktail trend pretty soon.  There are so many reasons why you want to do this; drinks become more aromatic, lighter, more intense.   Bottled, carbonated cocktails are spreading. Flat Iron in Soho have a range planned and this trend is hitting bars from San Francisco to Chicago so it won’t be long until this spreads. 


Depending on how fizzy you want it to you can either add carbonated water (or flavoured waters), or better still, add CO2 directly to the drink and avoid the dilution. A quick Google search can show you the way.

CARBONATED COCKTAILS

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