Let’s Drink to That
As the seasons change so should your bar menu. Take Stock presents a few of the new trends that could
shake up your drinks’ list this autumn. Get mixing!
Forget the Long Island kind – teas are making their way out of the kitchen and into the bar. Absolut Wild Tea launched in 2010 and the taste for tipsy tea soon gained momentum. With fresh aromas and floral notes, tea cocktails provide a light, pleasant alternative to some of the stronger, smoky drinks that have proved popular of late – old-fashioneds, negronis, et al. Tea can be infused into the spirit or brewed, chilled and added to the shaker. Operators to have capitalised on the trend include Caravan with its Rooibos Iced Tea and the Gilbert Scott Bar, London with its flowery Ginger Jasmine.
Some things get better with age. But who knew that included cocktails? Aged cocktails – mixed drinks that are placed in barrels for a few weeks to alter their character and flavour – are all the rage. Silk + Grain, recently opened in east London, is so confident that the trend is here to stay it specialises in
them. Restaurant manager James Urquhart says, “Aged cocktails are destined to be the next big thing because they really raise the bar. Our cocktail-making process begins months before the serve, allowing ingredients to come together over time in vessels that enhance the flavour, appearance and texture
of the drink.” Classics, it seems, are given a new lease of life with the ageing process when combined with the natural flavours of oak, vanilla, caramel and spice from charred oak-aged barrel. James adds, “Even metal ageing and bottle conditioning has created cleaner, more mineral takes on classics.”
Do we ever lose our sweet tooth? Lisa Yearwood, head of marketing at Drake & Morgan bars and restaurants, doesn’t think so. “I’ll always choose an after-dinner cocktail over a dessert,” she says.
“But why make it such a difficult choice? The public has developed a taste for a product that combines both and we’ve introduced two dessert cocktails that do just that on our latest menu — one inspired by crème brûlée and the other by tiramisu. Our tipples always have a sense of fun about them – so we’re
confident that these will be a huge success with our customers.” El Pirata Detapas, the Spanish tapas restaurant in London offers a Toblerone cocktail – Baileys, Frangelico, Kahlua and honey – whilst Smiths of Smithfield, London has been serving its Espresstini, Peach Melba and Strawberries &
Cream cocktails as desserts for years. Interestingly, at significantly higher prices than its traditional puds.
Once a late-night party only drink, the tequila shot is hot again with more bars and restaurants taking the spirit seriously. Thanks in no small part to more credible Mexican restaurants, from popular chains
such as Wahaca to fine dining destinations such as Peyote in Mayfair. Agaveria El Nivel recently opened in Covent Garden to offer a true taste of quality tequila and mescal; Casa Negra, London serves dozens of interesting varieties alongside carafes of sangritas. Naomi Sharpe, Casa Negra’s pr and marketing manager, said, “It’s amazing to see such a range of 100% agave tequilas becoming the norm in bars. Being able to find all my favourite tequilas, such as Herradura, Ocho and Tapatio all in one place, with
bartenders who know how to use them, is a far cry from the dusty bottle of ‘gold’ on the back bar taken with lime and salt that we used to be limited to.” But hold off on the margaritas and long drinks: tequila today is about quality and not quantity.
Get it bottled!
Bottled cocktails are on the rise. We’re not talking sweet, sickly sips aimed at students but high-quality, batch-produced classics that just happen to be served ready-made. Not only can they taste great, but they cut down on expensive training and long waiting times at the bar. Take Whyte Lyan in Hoxton,
where every cocktail is made by their master mixologist, bottled and chilled prior to service.
Customers don’t have to be seasoned wine experts to enjoy and explore different wines. Just look at the trend away from Pinot Grigios and Chardonnays towards more complex grapes such as Riesling or Lebanese and Corsican reds. Proof that there’s a demand for discovering off-the-beaten vine wines is
Newcomer Wines in Boxpark, and Sager + Wilde in Hackney, specialising in premium and rare wines in equal measure.