Cocktails made from marijuana in L.A., drinks served in conch shells in New York and bars championing the cause of conscious drinking in London—these are some of the 2017 global bar and cocktail trends revealed today by Time Out, the leading global media and entertainment brand that inspires and enables people to make the most of the city.
Over recent months, Time Out hosted its annual Bar Awards in nine cities around the world, celebrating this year’s best bars, mixologists and drinks as voted for by industry experts. In the process, the latest bar trends exciting drinkers and bartenders across the planet have been uncovered.
Joel Meares, Global Editor-in-Chief of Time Out, said: “For locals and visitors to cities from New York to Sydney, our global bar and cocktail trends are the ultimate guide for where they should be drinking this year and what must not be missed. The international bar scene never stops surprising us with its passion and creativity, and the innovations we have seen in 2017 demonstrate that bartenders seem to be getting more inventive with cocktails than ever before.”
Time Out’s five bar and cocktail trends of 2017 from cities around the world
1. Culinary & quirky ingredients: from cauliflower, black pudding and ice cream to weed
Bartenders aren’t shying away from popping into the kitchen to get what they need for their creations. This year has seen cocktails made from cauliflower, carrot, beetroot or black pudding (at Peg+Patriot, Time Out London Bar Award winner as ‘Most Creative Drinks List’’), coconut foam and patchouli perfume (at Red Frog, Time Out Lisbon Bar of the Year) or ice cream (Prohibition Creamery, award runner-up as ‘Best Single-Focus Bar’ in Austin).
Some mixologists take libations to the next level with CBD marijuana-infused cocktails (Gracias Madre in L.A.) and soju-pop rocks cocktails that come served in a watermelon—once the soju is poured over the watermelon a little fireworks show can be enjoyed (Hanjip in L.A.). Meanwhile, Sydney bars are really starting to get on board with using native Australian ingredients in their cocktails, including lemon myrtle, finger limes, pepper berry and wattle seed from acacia trees.
2. Spirits du jour: tiki, mescal, gin and natural wines
New York is seeing a revival in bespoke takes on spirit-mixer classics, with high-minded versions of rum and cokes, whisky-sodas and gin and tonics popping up around town; there has also been a resurgence of rum, boosted by the tiki-bar boom of the past few years, as well as a solid showing from the natural-wine movement in the city’s outer boroughs (we’re seeing the same trend in Chicago, where natural wines have been seen on menus around the city again and again). In Lisbon, tiki drinks have been reinvented, while cocktails made with tea also emerged as a trend. Mescal is alive and well in Chicago (two mescal bars were nominated for a Bar Award there: Mezcaleria las Flores and Mezcal Bar at Quiote), while wondermint malted shakes and shots of Angostura bitters on draft delight cocktail lovers (at Bar of the Year Best Intentions). In London, Italian-leaning aperitifs are as popular as ever (at Bar of the Year Bar Termini), gin is still the spirit du jour and whisky is on the rise (Best New Bar Swift has a whisky library). In Melbourne, hot apple cider is all the go for this windy city in winter.
3. Theatrical presentation: from origami animals, cans and conch shells to tiny plastic sharks
A lime wedge doesn’t cut it in Miami, where bartenders are really pushing the envelope when it comes to over-the-top presentations, experimenting with different glasses (or tubs), bespoke ice cubes and garnishes. It is not unusual to find origami animals or even a tiny plastic shark in a drink these days.
In Lisbon, glasses have been traded in for tin cans, and in Sydney, Continental Deli Bar Bistro is also canning their cocktails, serving a Mar-tinny, Can-hatten and Cosmopoli-tin. New York impresses with cheeky cocktails presented inside perfume bottles, lightbulbs, conch shells and boba-tea cups. The Aviary in Chicago (Most Creative Drink List award winner) offers a cocktail that is served inside a sphere of ice, which guests can crack open with a slingshot. However, an undeniable bar trend in London is the move away from gimmicks and themes, with bars serving up drinks in pared-back, sophisticated settings.
4. Where to drink in 2017: from local neighborhood to red light district
Ever-trendy East London took out more Bar Awards nominations than any other borough, and Soho and Dalston regained their status as go-to bar destinations in this city. In L.A., some of this year’s best bars are from Eastside neighborhoods; in particular, downtown L.A. was very well-represented in the Bar Awards, which comes as no surprise as the neighborhood continues to grow and expand its nightlife offerings. And while Miami South Beach still rules the bar scene in SoFlo’s biggest city, great neighborhood bars are finally a thing for locals all over Miami in areas like Little Havana, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and Kendall.
Five of nine Time Out Chicago Bar Awards winners are located in the northwest neighborhood of Logan Square, showcasing the sheer number of new bars in the area as well as the quality of work emerging from that neighborhood. In Austin, this year’s nominees revealed a noticeable concentration of bars downtown and in East Austin. Lisbon is home to Pensão Amor, located in the old red-light district with a menu paying homage to the prostitutes that used to work in the area.
5. It’s not just what’s in the glass that matters: theatrics, matched snacks and sustainability
Some London bars now serve beverages with sustainability on the agenda, championing the cause of conscious drinking. Austin bars love to incorporate live music, and a key trend there has been theatrics, as with the Roosevelt Room’s Black Pearl (which includes charcoal powder and liquid silver, served in a treasure chest) or Kemuri Tatsuya’s Puff Puff Pass (a sunshine mixture of sweet potato shochu, aged rum, grapefruit and five spice bitters served in a ceramic blowfish with a handle fin).
In Melbourne, Boilermaker House will not only match a craft brew to a nip of firewater, but they also include a matched snack with each order, perhaps a slice of salami or a little cheese. And Lisbon finally allowed itself to be conquered by cocktails—where at first the locals couldn't let go of their gin and tonic, they’ve now slowly embraced innovation and delight in bars getting more creative.
The best bars in some of the world’s greatest cities – winners of the Time Out Bar Awards 2017
● New York: Bar Goto
● Chicago: Best Intentions
● Los Angeles: Everson Royce Bar
● Austin: The Roosevelt Room
● London: Bar Termini Soho
● Sydney: This Must Be the Place
● Melbourne: Whisky & Alement
● Lisbon: Red Frog