Summer is here and your customers are ready for warm-weather cocktails. That means it's time to think about reinventing the drink menu at your bar or restaurant. Why not give people a reason to sing your praises during happy hour season? You don't have to get rid of the classic cocktails on your menu to make room for a few new signature options. Here are the cocktail trends of 2018 that will lure in new customers and delight your regulars.
1. Simple Cocktails with Infused Flavors
Bartenders in major cities from Las Vegas to New York say they're turning to infused flavors to improve their cocktail selection this summer. What does that mean? Infused liquors have a fruit or vegetable soaked in them for three to five days to add flavor. Consider changing a classic drink like mojito by adding an infusion twist.
Other bartenders swear that liquor washing techniques will sweep menus in the summer of 2018. Washing is a similar concept, accomplished differently. Instead of soaking fruit in your liquor, you can mix in something savory like bacon fat and then separate the fat out through freezing -- leaving behind only the flavor. Adding just a single new flavor to a classic drink gives you a brand new menu item that will intrigue your patrons.
Want an easy start with a light summer taste? Make a cucumber-lemon gin concoction:
- Infuse gin with 2 cups of seedless cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced and 1 strip of lemon zest
- Shake daily for 4 days and strain
- Add to ginger ale or seltzer
2. Signature Cocktails with a New Texture
Sometimes changing the texture of your cocktail is the easiest way to draw interest. Think alcoholic popsicles and slushies with a cocktail twist. Frozen drinks like the frose (frozen rose) have been popular since 2014, and the trend isn't going anywhere. Wine slushies have become a go-to at weddings and other events, but they're also popular with patrons. These creative drinks are ideal for the summer because they're cool (temperature wise) and because they're cool (as in, a novelty).
Creating a signature slushy isn't complicated. Combine classic summer flavors with a frozen twist. Start with a watermelon frose:
- Combine 1 cup of rose wine, 3/4 cup of chopped watermelon, and 1/8 cup of sugar for every 2 drinks
- Add to blender with 1 3/4 cup ice
- Blend and serve in a glass with a watermelon garnish (optional)
3. Savory Drinks with an Elaborate Garnish
Drinks with meaty garnishes are also on trend. While many people think of light, airy drinks when it's time for a summer menu, 2018 is trading sweet for savory. Vegetable juice is replacing fruit juice and salty garnishes are all the rage. Consider putting your own spin on the Bloody Mary or coming up with another concoction that allows you to add a chunk of cheddar cheese and salami as a garnish. Elaborate, edible garnishes make for great Instagram content, so you'll not only please your patrons with something new and a bit unexpected -- you'll likely earn yourself some free marketing this summer.
Already have a Bloody Mary mix you love? Stack up some of these garnishes to create a protein-heavy drink:
- Beef jerky
- Cheese squares
- Hard boiled eggs
- Cooked shrimp
Adding craft cocktails to your drink menu for the summer of 2018 can drum up some serious word of mouth for your restaurant or bar. Don't be afraid to get creative -- you'll be rewarded with new visitors and you'll give people a reason to return. In the summer of 2018, it's all about inventive infusions, big garnishes, and the mellow touch of CBD. How will you give your cocktail menu a makeover this summer?