As we enter into the most festive season of the year and approach a new one, it’s out with the old and tired and in with the new and exciting. In the bar industry, this means welcoming new bartender trends, tastes, and perspectives on mixology, flavor profiles, and presentation.
To identify new trends in bartending that are set to shake up the industry in 2024, Broken Bartender turned to its co-founder Danil Nevsky, known in the industry and on social media as “The Independent Bartender.”
The founder of Indie Bartender and the second most influential person in the bar industry in 2023, Danil is all about pushing the limits of the hospitality industry.
Recently, Danil launched the world's first fully independent and anonymous global bartending competition—which received 1,800 applicants in its first year—aimed at funding independent bartender projects and supporting bartender-built brands.
Ambitious and unfiltered (just like Broken Bartender’s cheeky clothing and accessories designs!), Danil is an industry trend-setter mixologist who also happens to think trends are bullshit.
In his own words, Danil shares with us eight bartender trends that he believes are set to make waves in 2024:
- Return of the garnish
- Retro liquor is in vogue again
- Rise of local drinking culture and traditions
- Brandy rears its head
- Transparency and clarity in bar products
- Natural wine replaces craft beer
- Just make it fun
- Trends are bullshit
Above all, Danil encourages bartenders and bar owners to “have all the fun in the world as long as your fun doesn’t ruin someone else’s.” Read on for more fantastic advice from this industry legend!
[Push the boundaries of bartender trends and bartender swag with Broken Bartender’s clothing and accessories for the modern bartender.]
1. Return of the garnish
One of the top bartender trends to watch out for in 2024 is the return of the garnish, which is set to take over the hospitality industry’s recent minimalist cocktail trend.
Spearheaded by bars such as Three Sheets and A Bar With Shapes For A Name in London and Byrdi in Melbourne, minimalism in cocktail presentation has created a generation of bartenders that have stripped away all the extra from a cocktail and have instead put all their energy and focus on the liquid in the glass.
Minimalism in a glass
Minimalist glassware, clarification, and big block ice have led to the search for the ultimate “clean” look. The outcome? Cocktails in the same glassware, the same ice, and the same look in every bar you turn to.
Many bars have adopted this clean, minimalist look
The minimalist movement has even inspired a bar trend amongst patrons called the “block ice conspiracy,” which is when someone buys an expensive cocktail then removes the ice to reveal the limited amount of liquid actually inside.
What’s in store for the future? A new generation of garnishes that are both intentional and pleasing to the eye. While still fairly minimalist in the drink, the garnish becomes the focal point of the cocktail that shows the “effort” that has gone into the preparation.
A small selection of bars, such as the Handshake Speakeasy in Mexico City have started experimenting with pastry and candy-making techniques to create new and exciting garnishes.
Examples of bars currently experimenting with innovative ways to up the garnish game are the Handshake Speakeasy in Mexico City, with their Banana Split cocktail featuring a chocolate and banana Lego block garnish, and the Garnish Lab by the Moebius in Milano team, who created a frighteningly realistic donut with a Campari icing garnish!
Chocolate and banana Lego block garnish
Donut with Campari icing garnish
2. Retro liquor is in vogue again
It’s not a new trend in bartending, but it’s one that deserves a strong comeback—this next bartender trend for 2024 is the return of retro liquor.
For bartenders, the journey to discover crazy techniques, source rare ingredients, and use unique vessels will never be fully complete, and regular bartenders often find themselves against the wall when trying to recreate concoctions made by some of the worlds best bars.
The logical overcorrection has come in the form of using ingredients previously deemed as “taboo” or too “old school” in modern establishments due to their perceived “uncool” factor—ingredients such as Midori, Galliano, or Malibu were thought to have been left in the past but are appearing on menus more and more in recent times.
Bars such as *Ism in Oslo, Röda Huset in Stockholm, and Ergo in Dubai proudly proclaim their love for these much maligned ingredients and feature them on the cocktail menu or as part of the bar culture regardless of whether they get support from the brand itself.
Coriander, parsley, mint & elderflower cocktail by Röda Huset in Stockholm
3. Rise of local drinking culture and traditions
The next drink trend that we will see more of in 2024 is the rise of local drink traditions and recipes.
If you walked into many cocktail bars around the world a decade ago, you’d usually find classic drinks on the menu, such as manhattans, daiquiris, negronis, or espresso martinis. These drinks, found in cities renowned for their bars—like New York City and London—represented the international standard and fueled the idea that to be good was to offer the very same.
While the importance of knowing your classic cocktails remains, more and more bars are starting to embrace hyper local or regional drinking traditions that you wouldn’t necessarily encounter in other countries or cities (it’s how the world-famous margarita once found its humble beginnings!).
Mauresque cocktail from South of France
Source: Wikimedia France
Examples of this include the Mauresque cocktail from the south of France found popular in the city of Marseille; the 1980’s French classic fine à l’eau made simply with cognac, verjus, soda, and sugar syrup; or even the hot shot, a winter warmer popular in Sweden, featuring Galliano vanilla, whipped cream, and hot coffee. These delicious drinks made no sense to outsiders but are beloved by locals.
The hot shot cocktail is made with Galliano vanilla, whipped cream, and hot coffee
4. Brandy rears its head
A bartender trend that shouldn’t be overlooked in 2024 is the use of brandy over cognac in classic cocktails and other drinks.
Some of the best old school drinks feature brandy or cognac, which has generally dominated cocktail bars all over the world when it comes to the aged grape spirits category.
A tasty sidecar cocktail made by Three Sheets, London
Source: Three Sheets London
Thanks to high cognac prices, using cognac in entry level cocktails is too prohibitive from a price perspective. What’s a bartender to do? Turn toward brandy for support, of course.
Use brandy in place of cognac for entry level cocktails
Source: Wikimedia Commons
South African, Spanish, Armenian, Greek, and Italian brandy producers who have been making excellent products for years have finally come around to marketing directly to bars, cocktails, and bartenders.
Instead of trying to fight cognac on their own terms and in their wheelhouse, they’ve decided to focus where cognac doesn’t—the on-trade bar industry!
5. Transparency and clarity in bar products
In the spirits industry, more consumers are showing interest in high-quality ingredients and in learning about the unique products they’re tasting. Besides where and when it was made (the usual information on a drinks label), people want to know details, such as the distillery location, what type of agave the tequila was made from, what barrels the wine was aged in, and who the “master blender” was.
This wine label gives consumers additional information on flavor profiles and character
Source: Cameron Stevens
This kind of transparency and clarity in products is the next item on our list of bartender trends that are set to catch fire in the bartending industry in 2024.
Even previously overlooked categories such as vermouth production are being given this treatment. One such brand is 9 di DANTE Vermouth from Alba in Italy.
While 99.9% of vermouth production uses whatever white wine is available for the cheapest price possible, this particular producer uses only wines from the Piedmont region of Italy and proudly displays the grape variety on the bottle itself.
9 di DANTE vermouth from Alba, Italy
Consumers’ mindset with this is simple—”If the product is 90% wine, then why don't we know what kind of wine it is?”
6. Natural wine replaces craft beer
Last season’s favorite bar trend, craft beer, has fallen into obscurity and has been replaced with an all new obsession in the form of one of 2024’s bartender trends to watch out for—natural wine.
Natural wine is making waves in the bar industry
The industry went from obsessing over bitter hops and breweries to jumping on the funk and acidity of natural wine. It’s new, it’s hip, and it’s exciting (plus it’s a great choice for the health-conscious!). All the cool and trendy restaurants are suddenly stocking it, and it doesn’t taste like any of the basic wine your parents drank.
But just like with any new trend that comes too quickly, the world’s not always prepared for it. Similar to Basque or Breton cider when it comes to flavor, natural wine doesn’t travel well and it doesn’t store well or long.
Just like craft beer, every new vintage of natural wine tries to go for bigger and bolder flavors, but I think people will want something simpler. We’ll have to wait and see.
7. Just make it fun
This next one isn’t a new bartending trend, but it’s advice that will never go out of style—just make it fun!
Serving drinks in a fun and playful way is a bartender trend to look out for in 2024
Source: Danil Nevsky
Going to bars used to be about having fun—to meet new people, to get away from our problems, to have a drink to unwind, and to create stories.
But then, things started changing. The drinks got smaller, and they took longer to make. We saw the rise of secret speakeasies with specific rules, hotel bars with fancy dress codes, and then came ultra-conceptual venues where a degree was required in order to properly enjoy yourself (or at least that's how they made you feel!).
As bartenders, we know that a lot of work goes into the craft and the cocktail preparation, but it’s no longer important to give a speech every time you present your cocktail to the guest (try a cheeky bartender joke instead!).
Bars such as Maybe Sammy in Sydney, Sexy Fish in Miami, and The Cocktail Trading Company in London all eschew the serious side of things in favor of a more playful approach incorporating dancing, showboating, and multi-layered, story-driven menus for guests’ entertainment.
Pages out of The Cocktail Trading Company’s story-driven menu
Source: The Cocktail Trading Company
After all, bartending is show business. We make a show to drive the business!
8. Trends are bullshit
After going through some of the bartender trends that I think will fly in 2024, I’ll cap the list off with this last piece of advice—trends are bullshit.
Just like the infamous scene from the movie Wolf of Wall Street where Matthew MacConaughey’s character reveals that no one has any real clue where the stock market is going, the same can be said for any insiders trying to predict the future of any industry.
While the bar industry wants its most famous bartenders to actually be able to dictate to the general public what to drink, it’s actually usually consumer behavior and pop-culture themes that tend to lead the charge!
Hop on over to the Google Trends website and type in your favorite cocktail or spirit. The search engine will reveal how often, where, and who is searching for this—ultimately, it will show what’s truly popular in the eyes of the consumers.
Drink what you want, eat what you like, and remember the one of the top golden rules of Bartending—have all the fun in the world as long as your fun doesn’t ruin someone else’s.
[Bartenders looking to usher in a new year need some new swag—head on to Broken Bartender for bartender clothing and accessories with an attitude.]