Cocktail Trends: What’s Hot in Mixology in 2023




Iconic Liquors in Popular Culture

It’s a Friday evening. You’ve just clocked out of work, shrugged off the day’s tensions like an unwanted cloak, and you’re about to head to your favorite watering hole. As the doors swing wide, the clinking glass and low hum of friendly chatter hug all your senses at once. Now, what’s the first cocktail you order?

Is it the classic Old Fashioned, the hip Negroni, or something you’ve never tried before? Sure, we all have our go-to drinks, but don’t we also crave to taste what’s casting a spell in the world of mixology? Well, pops your cork, doesn’t it?

Ah, allow me to pour you a stiff one as I spill the tea on the most intoxicating trends bubbling up in mixology these days. From “farm-to-glass” approach, the resurgence of retro libations, to the fascination with international flavors, are sure to shake up your cocktail selections.

Key takeaways of this tantalizing topic are:

  • Thrilling tale of time-travel: Rise of vintage cocktails
  • The irresistible allure: International flavors dominating the scene
  • It’s more than a drink, it’s an experience: Immersive cocktail experiences
  • Got it from my Momma: Homage to traditional recipes with a twist

So, sit back, relax, and sip on these latest trends on the cocktail menu. Bottoms up, my friend! No need to rush, we’ve got the whole night to blend in with the mix. Cheers!

The Rise of Craft Cocktails

Cocktail Trends: What's Hot in Mixology Right Now - 2023
Cocktail Trends: What’s Hot in Mixology in 2023 10

As someone with a seasoned history behind the bar, pouring out drinks and stirring conversations, I’ve witnessed first-hand the meteoric rise of craft cocktails. This trend’s phenomenal ascent, much like a bourbon’s slow journey from barrel to bottle, is hardly a flash in the distiller’s pot. It’s a blend of cultural shifts, meticulous crafting, and sheer consumer delight.

The craft cocktail wave has washed over our taste buds and drenched us in a cocktail renaissance not seen since the days of Prohibition. A pinch of nostalgia, a season of experimentation, and a garnish of sophistication – this cocktail trend’s making a splash, and how!

The appeal is all too clear. From the ice block patiently sitting in your Old Fashioned to the zest of citrus dancing on your palate as you sip a carefully caramelized Lemon Drop, every craft cocktail tells a story. When was the last time a can of beer had a conversation with you, eh?

The imbuing of local flavors and ingredients has put the ‘craft’ back in cocktails. Yesteryear’s bar-goer is today’s discerning drinker, seeking and appreciating the nuances of contrasting tastes, local spirits, and adventurous garnishes.

Yet, much like a cocktail that needs the perfect balance, the rise of craft cocktails is multi-layered. Yes, we are charmed by the artisanal quality, compelled by the authenticity, and mesmerized by spin-offs of classic recipes. But it’s also the human touch – the expertise of a well-versed bartender, the idiosyncrasies of a neighborhood bar, the communal thrill of sampling something unique.

A far cry from premixes and assembly line bottled cocktails, the craft cocktail trend celebrates the art of mixology, the symphony of flavors mingled with deftness, flair, and creativity. It’s an immersive experience, where every sip becomes an act of appreciation, every clink of the glass an affirmation of sophistication.

Innovative Flavor Combinations

Innovative Flavor Combinations
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When it comes to the art of mixology, innovative flavor combinations can be as exciting as a firecracker on the Fourth of July, and sometimes they can quite literally feel like it’s raining sunshine. Innovation in cocktail flavors is not just mixing a couple of spirits, fruits, and some ice in a shaker. No, it requires culinary creativity, an understanding of flavors, and, of course, the spirit – a bit like a kid let loose in a candy store.

One trend that intrigued me like a mystery novel is the use of savory elements in cocktails – think bacon-infused bourbon or a jalapeno tequila. It’s like chasing the end of the rainbow, with each sip revealing an unexpected pot of gold – sweet, spicy, fruity, and smoky, all harmonizing together like an exceptional symphony. It’s surprising, but oh, so right – the cocktail equivalent of a plot twist that you didn’t see coming but utterly enjoyed.

And let’s not forget the rise of the herbaceous cocktails! Timeless classics are getting a spring-fresh makeover. Imagine a classic gin and tonic, only jazzed up with rosemary and fresh grapefruit, their fragrant notes making a tangy tango on your tastebuds. The depth and complexity these fresh herbs add are like layers of a best-seller, accentuating the flavor profile of the spirit and mixer – it lends a whiff of the unexpected, heightening the overall drinking experience.

And speaking of the unexpected, the incorporation of exotic fruits and floral flavors is another delightful trend, a ballroom dance where the dancer spins and twirls with graceful unpredictability. Mangoes, lychees, passionfruit, and hibiscus have found their way into the mixologist’s shaker, making the cocktail landscape as colorful as an artist’s palette.

Now, speaking from personal experience, there is one innovative combination that stole my heart like Romeo did Juliet’s. Imagine, if you will, a whiskey-based cocktail, infused with the sweet warmth of honey, the playful tang of fresh lime, bristling with a hint of ginger and a dash of chili. It was like falling in love with every sip, a beguiling dance of flavors that flirt and seduce, leaving a lasting impression.

In conclusion, mixology is heading to uncharted territories, pushing boundaries just like a daring novel trying to break free from its stereotype, dousing customers with a kaleidoscopic gust of flavors. It’s exciting, adventurous and most of all, intoxicatingly delicious. So next time you sit at a bar, don’t just go with the tried-and-true, be venturesome, let your taste buds embark on an exhilarating journey as narrated by your enlightened bartender. Cheers!

Cocktail Garnishes as Art

Cocktail Garnishes as Art
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Gone are the days when a simple umbrella adorned our beloved Pina Colada. Step right up to the new era where cocktail garnishes have become an artistic revolution. As the curtain lifts, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world where bartenders are akin to artists, painting their masterpieces with the ingredients in their palette. So let’s shake, stir, and pour ourselves into the world of ‘Cocktail Garnishes as Art.’

In an era where consumers are snapping pictures of their favorite foods and beverages for social media as a pre-meal ritual, it’s no surprise that bartenders are upping the ante when it comes to the presentation. The cocktail world has been bitten by the creativity bug, and the result is a slew of insanely artistic garnishes. Picture this: A cocktail adorned with an intricate sugar sculpture, or maybe a Bloody Mary showcasing a miniaturized garden of vegetables skewered on a kebab stick. Sounds crazy, right? But it’s becoming more and more common in the spirits world.

In my personal experience working with an upscale lounge, there was a distinct shift in emphasis towards garnish artistry. We found that customers were enticed by the visual charm of these garnishes, making it an intrinsic part of their cocktail experience.

Now let’s dive deeper. Here are a few of the trendiest and most artistically alluring garnishes you’ll find:

  • Miniature Sculptures: Who’d have thought that your cocktail might come adorned with a sugar or chocolate sculpture? It’s a delicious and visually stunning trend.
  • Edible Flowers: They’re easy on the eye, add a wonderful aroma, and some even add a unique flavor profile to the drink.
  • Flaming Citrus Peels: Nothing screams dramatic like a flaming cocktail. It not only dazzles you visually but the flame can also caramelize the sugars in the peel, enhancing the flavor.
  • Ice Art: Ice isn’t just to chill your drink anymore. Expect to see shapes, colors, and even herbs frozen inside for a dynamic and changing flavor profile.
  • Dehydrated Fruits: Sustainable, long-lasting, and bursting with concentrated flavor – they pack both an aesthetic and flavor punch.
  • Vegetable Carvings: From simple radish roses to more complex designs, you can eat your veggies with your cocktail!

Remember, behind every garnish there’s a metaphor playing out, the foreshadowing of the flavor about to explode on your palate. Each garnish, each addition conceives an imagery, as intricate as the lines of your hand, engaging your sense of sight and smell before drenching your taste buds with an experience of their own.

From my perspective, this fusion of bartending and art is a symbolic reminder that life’s pleasures are not just about consumption, but about experiencing an array of senses in harmony. And while it may seem a tad over-the-top, isn’t that the beauty of art and creativity? It’s unpredictable, captivating, and at times, a little eccentric – much like a great cocktail garnish!

The Influence of Local and Seasonal Ingredients

The Influence of Local and Seasonal Ingredients
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Jazzing up the drinks scene, aren’t we? I’ve always found it fascinating how trends in the cocktail world are evolving. It’s like watching a kaleidoscope of flavors, where the only constant thing is change. Currently making a big splash are local and seasonal ingredients. Yes, my friend, the bar scene has succumbed to the allure of the farm-to-glass movement. And boy, isn’t it a sight to relish?

Cocktail artists these days are hell-bent on adding a novel twist to their drinks. It was just yesterday when I was at my friend John’s bar in downtown Boston. He served me this delightful whiskey sour. However, instead of the traditional recipe, he replaced the lemon with local cranberries. The tartness of the cranberries, coupled with the rich, warm tones of whiskey, made an explosive match. Taking a sip felt like a stroll in a cranberry farm during a chilly fall evening. It was an experience – nay, a celebration of local flavors. Never before had I tasted a whiskey sour so close to the heart and soul of Boston!

Seasonal ingredients, too, have invaded the mixology scene with full force. It’s all about paying homage to the changing rhythm of nature. When spring arrives, it reflects in the cocktails with the abundance of lavender, cherry blossoms, and spring berries. In summer, it’s the freshness of watermelons, peaches, and mint that takes front stage. Autumn brings apples, pears, and pumpkins in trend. Winter, on the other hand, ushers in the flavors of citrus, rosemary, and warming spices. Each season adds a unique stroke in the masterpiece that a cocktail is.

Working with local and seasonal ingredients is like dancing to the tune of nature. It’s painting a picture with the colors that nature is generously offering at the moment. It’s a blissful blend of tradition and innovation.

Now, isn’t that a marvel? Being able to taste the rhythm of the seasons and the blessings of nature through our drinks? And let’s admit it, there’s a certain charm in waiting for your favorite season to enjoy its signature cocktail. The anticipation itself becomes part of the experience.

So there you have it, the dazzling world of cocktails with the hearty touch of local and seasonal spins. With every swig, they take you on a journey, a journey of tastes and experiences that connect you deeper to the land you call home. It’s a shift from the global to the local, from the artificial to the natural – a trend, I must say, worth toasting to.

Low-ABV and Mocktail Options

Low-ABV and Mocktail Options
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With the dawn of a new age in bartending, we’re observing a fresh and exciting trend-wave gliding onto the scene— Low-ABV cocktails and the much adored Mocktails.

Interestingly, let’s raise a glass to these underdogs, the less boozy yet immensely flavorsome concoctions, that have been revolutionizing the cocktail market of late.

The low-ABV cocktails are an incredible option for all those folks who adore the art and craft of cocktails but prefer to tone down the alcohol quotient. These drinks, often made with vermouth, sherry, or the lesser-known amari, still pack a punch, offering a flavorful symphony without the hefty alcohol content. Remember that the idea behind these Low-ABV champions is to nurse a drink, relishing the company and conversation, instead of knocking one out too soon.

As for Mocktails, they’ve always enjoyed their own fair share of limelight, but lately, they’ve ascended to a whole new level. They cater perfectly to those who skip alcohol altogether but still yearn for the creative mixology’s experience. Mocktails these days are art in a glass, centering around intricate layers of non-alcoholic flavors that delight the senses as any traditional cocktail would. As they say, all the fun, minus the hangover!

Here’s a sneak peek into some of my favorite low-ABV and mocktail options:

  • Vermouth Spritz: A refreshing blend of vermouth, soda water, and a slice of citrus. This low-ABV cocktail is light, easy, and ever so pleasing.
  • Sherry Cobbler: Yes, sherry isn’t just for cooking! A cool blend of sherry, sugar, and fruit tastefully introduces you to the delightful world of low-alcohol cocktails.
  • Virgin Mojito: A mocktail classic. The tantalizing taste of fresh lime and mint, sweetened to taste, creates a refreshing and appetite-awakening option.
  • Non-Alcoholic Mulled Wine: This one’s a personal winter favorite. Infusing spices, fruits, and berries into a combination of cranberry and grape juice, this mocktail is a winter warmer worth trying.

Trends like these make it clear that the magic of the cocktail world is not purely about the spirits, but more about how these spirits (or lack thereof) are conjured up in a glass. After all, a bartender isn’t just a purveyor of alcoholic beverages, but more of an artist, engaging with flavors, and creating masterpieces that drink-lovers savor.

At the end of the day, whether you’re a deep-end diver or a water baby, there’s a drink for everyone! Cheers to that!

Unconventional Glassware and Presentation

Unconventional Glassware and Presentation
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Something magical happens when the stirring spoon twirls its way around the glass, like a prima ballerina engrossed in the dance of her dreams. Truly, every well-crafted cocktail is a virtuoso performance in a glass! The revolution of this art form, however, isn’t just limited to the dance between the spirits, mixers and garnishes.

Lately, the craft has been imagining the unimaginable, entering new frontiers through unconventional glassware and presentation. It’s like the entire cocktail world broke free from its cocoon and is now stretching its resplendent wings!

Why was the cocktail glassware ever confined to the norm of a boring and predictable few, anyways? Ever wondered? Spirits are like souls – they need space to breathe, room to move, and an expressive body to narrate their story. So, why trap them in the same ol’ shapely decanter? Movement is all about breaking free, and boy, are we witnessing a seismic shift in this tantalizing world of liquors, bitters, and sugars.

Now, don’t you blink in surprise if you see your cocktail served within the hollows of a gleaming brass pineapple or peering out of a porcelain skull! It might even be snuggled smartly inside a quaint birdcage or nonchalantly decorated with a flaming cocktail umbrella. These containers, novel yet rich with a myriad of possibilities, are just as essential as the drink they hold.

Allow me to let you in on a secret. In my days behind the bar counter, I once served a cocktail called ‘The Whispering Wind’ in an old gramophone-shaped glass. It was a thing of sheer wonderment, where patrons got a kick from not only sipping this unique spirit-blend, but also from interacting with its fascinating vessel. The synergy between the drink and the receptacle was akin to a symphony in a sea shell – captivating, intriguing, and melodious!

It’s a fantastic trend, breaking all the norms and the boundaries, but with a sense of purpose. Creativity with glassware and presentation dances lightly on the fine line between legendary and lunacy, but each daring leap captures the spirit of a renaissance in the cocktail realms.

Like a well-seasoned cocktail itself, this trend is shaken and stirred with the right amount of zing and flair. Striking a balance is key, though; the challenge lies in ensuring that the unorthodox doesn’t overshadow the narrative of the cocktail itself.

Experimentation with Smoke and Infusions

Experimentation with Smoke and Infusions
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Smoke and infusions, ah! They are changing the game in the cocktail world. Smoke gives cocktails a flavorful depth, an element that jolts your taste sensors into action. Imagine sipping a smoky negroni—the zesty bitterness of Campari and gin mingling with the woody, earthy tones of smoke. It’s like an adventure for the palate!

Are you asking, “Why smoke?” Well, my friend, if you’d tasted a cocktail that’s been kissed with that perfect hint of smoke, you’d be asking, “Why not?” Here’s the thing: smoking a cocktail isn’t just about the flavor; it’s about the visual flair, the intrigue, the show – it’s a wild ride!

The current cocktail climate is all about throwing caution to the wind and giving into the whimsy of creativity. I once observed a seasoned mixologist meticulously torching a maple wood plank, capturing the wafting smoke in a glass dome before revealing a beautiful whiskey cocktail infused with a delicate trace of smoke. Such a spectacle! It’s not just about giving your tastebuds a kick; it’s also about entertaining your eyes. It’s no less than a theatrical performance, with the cocktail glass as the stage.

Infusions, on the other hand, are like the risk-takers of the cocktail world, daring to venture where no bartender has dared to tread. You’ve got everything from the comforting familiarity of fruits and herbs to the bold unpredictability of spices, the sweet decadence of chocolate, the heat of peppers—anything and everything can become a part of your mixologist’s palette.

While working in a quaint, high-end bar in New York City, I had a memorable encounter with a customer who was an infusion enthusiast. He wanted to brave the realms of unusual combinations. He challenged me to whip up a pepper-infused gin cocktail. Oh, the madness! But the result? An explosion of flavors- the fiery audacity of the pepper playing a tantalizing tango with the cool, earthy gin. Unforgettable, to say the least!

Smoke and infusions – these are the mavericks of mixology, pushing boundaries, creating experiences, searing memories onto your tastebuds. To be part of the evolving cocktail narrative, you’ve got to be bold, innovative, and willing to explore. After all, what’s mixology if not art in a glass? And art, as they rightly say, thrives on experiments.

So, the next time you’re chilling at your favorite bar, dare to invite smoke and infusions to your table. Be prepared to be wowed by the artful blend of tradition and innovation. You might just witness a captivating cocktail drama unfold right before your very eyes! Cheers!

The Revival of Classic Cocktails

The Revival of Classic Cocktails
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Ah, the intoxicating world of classic cocktails. These are timeless drink recipes that have weathered the storm of passing fads and hotshot newcomers. Today, they’ve made a grand return to the spotlight, enchantingly suggesting that all that glitters is not just 24 carat gold-infused vodka and glow-in-the-dark mixers.

Despite the endless parade of mixes that dance across the world’s bars and clubs, it’s like we’ve gone full circle. Familiar names such as the Old Fashioned, the Martini, and the Manhattan are resurfacing and gaining admiration from the millennial crowd. Picture it—the great comeback story of the libation world, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of forgotten liquor cabinets.

Their revival isn’t a mere dash of nostalgia, it’s more than that. Classic cocktails are stirring up memories, possibly of a grandfather’s favorite evening pastime or a scene from a classic film. They have a timeless appeal, just like a black and white photograph, stirring up romanticism and elegance. In their simplicity, they reflect the concept that sometimes, less is indeed more.

Strolling into a bar and ordering a Whiskey Sour, for instance, takes you back to an era where cocktails were not just drinks but symbols of sophistication and status. In a way, you become a living metaphor of the past, sipping on the edge of tradition and modernity.

This rise of classic cocktails isn’t just about the drink itself. It’s also about the experienced bartenders that bring them back to life, adding their personal twists while maintaining the integrity of the cocktail. A well-crafted Daiquiri is pure poetry in a glass, each ingredient reverently blended, like lyrics in a songwriter’s soulful ballad.

It’s true what they say; classics never go out of style. In our fast-paced world, these reinvented classic cocktails, filled with lively flavors and deep history, help us to pause the swirling chaos of our lives, even for just a moment. There is allure and magic in simplicity. When stirred with the right ingredients, these age-old recipes create an experience, a story, a timeless delight.

So, the next time you’re at a bar, try out a Negroni or a Sidecar. They are not just drinks; they are time-traveling vessels, carrying within them tales of old-world charm and class.

From my personal experience, understanding and appreciating classic cocktails is much like listening to an old vinyl record – it’s about the full-bodied sound, the slight crackle, and the warmth that digital cannot replicate. It’s the charm of the tried and tested that is seducing patrons and bartenders alike across the globe. In short, the revival of classic cocktails is not just a trend; it’s a toast to our past, and quite possibly, a peek into the future of mixology.


In my years of experience behind the bar, I’ve seen cocktail trends come and go, but the emphasis on quality and creativity that we’re seeing in mixology right now is something that truly excites me. From the reemergence of forgotten classics to the quirkiest innovations like edible garnishes and flavored ice cubes, the cocktail scene is changing the way we drink. It’s shaking up old traditions and keeping both bartenders and drinkers on their toes.

What I love about the current mixology trends is that they are driven not just by novelty, but by genuine passion for craft and quality. The newfound respect for classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned or the Negroni, for instance, is not just a trend; it’s a return to basics, a love for the classic combination of flavors that have stood the test of time.

At the other end of the spectrum, innovative measures like the use of organic, locally-sourced ingredients or artisanal spirits show how bartenders today are pushing boundaries and elevating the entire drinking experience.

In conclusion, the cocktail world has never been more adventurous and diverse. From home bars to high-end establishments, people are no longer satisfied with just a simple ‘Jack and Coke’. They want their drinks mixed with the elegance of a ballroom dance – full of craft, finesse, and perhaps a sprinkle of surprise. As a bartender, I’ve never been happier to shake, stir, and pour. Here’s to the future of mixology – may it bring more flavor, creativity, and shared moments over perfect blends. Cheers!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some emerging cocktail trends right now?

The current cocktail trends are quite varied. People are steering towards wellness drinks, concoctions with low-alcohol or non-alcoholic options are becoming particularly popular. Additionally, rum-based cocktails and mezcals are gaining ground. Another fascinating trend is the resurgence of vintage drinks. Bartenders are reviving forgotten recipes, adding their contemporary spins to classic combinations.

Are there any new trends in cocktail ingredients?

Absolutely, and it’s quite exciting! More bartenders are using exotic ingredients, such as kombucha, elderflower, and yuzu. House-made syrups, bitters, and infusions are also very popular. People are veering towards fresh, organic, and local ingredients with creative use of spices, herbs, and teas.

What is mixology and how does it influence cocktail trends?

Mixology is the art of preparing cocktails and akin to the culinary world’s gourmet cooking. It goes beyond just mixing drinks, it’s about creating unique flavors, aesthetics, and experiences. Mixology heavily influences cocktail trends— innovative bartenders constantly experimenting with ingredients, presentation, and service styles fuels the emergence of new trends.

What is the comeback of vintage cocktails all about?

Vintage cocktails are making a huge comeback. Bartenders are now delving into history books, revisiting classic drinks like the Old Fashioned, Negroni or Martini, and adding their modern interpretations. This trend pays respect to the cocktail heritage while meeting the demand for something both familiar and new from patrons.

Are non-alcoholic cocktails becoming more popular?

Yes, they are. The ‘sober-curious’ movement is growing, and bartenders are responding by crafting sophisticated non-alcoholic options, not just simple substitutes. These ‘mocktails’ display all the creativity, complexity, and flavor balance of their traditional counterparts.

What is the importance of unique glassware in current cocktail trends?

Unique and distinctive glassware has become increasingly important in the cocktail scene. The right glassware can enhance a drink’s overall presentation, aroma, and even taste. Dramatic vessels are serving as a point of intrigue and delight for customers, thus making the cocktail experience more memorable.

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