From rotovaping and fatwashing, to fermentation and non-alcoholic distillates, bartenders are becoming ever-more scientific in their quest to invent the cocktail of the future. Globetrender spoke to three world-renowned mixologists at the Patrón Cocktail Lab at London Cocktail Week about the recipes and techniques they are working on, the trends they are watching and the drinks they are most proud of.
Chris Hysted-Adams from Black Pearl in Melbourne
There are new explorations of familiar flavours, which is very very cool to see. For example, how can I explore the combination of coconut and pineapple? Is it now incredible with tequila? And can the pineapple be tepache [fermented]? It’s great seeing new incarnations of classic combinations.
The box we all used to think within has now been broken. Cocktails are headed in myriad different directions. It’s a really exciting time to be a cocktail drinker and bartender. Are the ingredients in a cocktail going to be hyper local? Are they going to be rotovapped [using a unique evaporation process] into something we’re not familiar with? Or are they going to be wildly exotic?
Tequila is on trend now. Here at Black Pearl we’ve recently created a cocktail called “25 Pesos”. It’s a coconut oil washed Patrón Silver tequila, cognac, local muscat, a hint of maraschino and chocolate bitters. It’s a hit and offers our guests a new kind of tequila experience.
[According to Serious Eats, to fat-wash alcohol, you add a liquid such as sesame oil or melted butter to a spirit at room temperature. You let it sit for a few hours, then chill everything in the fridge or freezer until the fat solidifies and can easily be skimmed off. The spirit retains the flavours of the fat even after you’ve done the skimming.]
With the growth in “conscious sobriety”, using spirits to “season” cocktails is something the guys at This Must Be The Place in Sydney have been doing since they opened, and is a great way to introduce spirit-like flavours into otherwise low-alcohol cocktails. It’s very clever stuff.
Alex Lawrence from Dandelyan in London
It’s hard to quantify what trends are emerging sometimes as we’ve seen some of the same trends continue to grow over the last five years like low ABV cocktails and sherry.
In terms of innovation and what’s new, I think that fermentation is a hot topic. This is interesting as it’s actually quite a dangerous trend in the wrong hands. But we love to experiment with fermentation at Dandelyan.
Sustainability is still on point – it would be great to see this become the standard as opposed to just a marketing trend.
We’re also coming away from liquid being a selling point and returning to hospitality – which shouldn’t be a trend but it is – and it’s nice to see that classic bars such as Swift are focusing on this.
One of greatest pieces of advice I have been given is “you’re not going to be a good bartender or good at your job unless you ask the question ‘why’ of everything”. Why do I have to shake a cocktail when maybe I could use a spindle mix? It’s about new methods, quicker service and refining even the most basic of things.
There will be less mystic-ness around bartenders too as we’re not creating magic, just creating an experience. That said, challenging the status quo will be the next big thing.
In terms of conscious sobriety, we’ve been doing well thought-out, non-alcoholic drinks since the day we opened. Actually, it came to fruition around six months in.
The fact that it is a trend is important as it starts a conversation that does need to be had. It should have been mandatory from day one for low-abv, non-alcoholic versions of cocktails to be on the menu, so you don’t have to drink something that’s going to make you feel drunk.
Dandelyan often uses non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip in its cocktails. Try “Seedlip Spice, roasted sweet potato, off-cut cordial and grass” or “Salt-baked pomegranate, mulberry leaf, white tea and cardamom”.
Jose Luis Leon, Limantour in Mexico City
For me, simplicity of presentation and a deeper focus on the final flavour are key at the moment. Many bars work behind a curtain but the final product that the customer receives must be elegant and simple.
I see now in London and in big cities that we are steering towards shorter cocktails, elegant drinks, deep flavours, and a concern for the environment.
Low AVB cocktails are taking center stage and will continue to do so. Paying more attention to the customers and their needs will be how cocktail bars respond.