Lifestyle » Vol. 48

Game-changing cocktail trends

By Merilee Kern

Mix up your spirit selections and take your soirées to an unforgettable new level this season with libations that eradicate expectations. There’s no need to hit the bar for a stellar craft cocktail, as killer concoctions are a snap to make at home! Just heed these cocktail trends offered up from Linda Losey, founder of Bloomery Plantation Distillery, and you can be a home bar rock star!

More Playfulness, Less Pretention
Cheeky and whimsical brands and beverages are kicking severe mixology to the curb. Preciousness and pomposity have taken a back seat to professionalism, favoring homespun hospitality over haughtiness. Cocktailing is becoming simpler, with a laid-back sensibility on the rise.

Small Batch is Still Big
The American Distilling Institute reports the meteoric rise in craft and micro distilleries, where true ingenuity is underway, the results of which are getting to market quicker than ever. Validating the power of craft, even the “big boys” are now getting into the small-batch business.

Simplicity Reigns Supreme
Gone are the days where overzealous mixologists have something to prove, taking 15 minutes or more to perfect a drink. Now, simplified elixirs that require few ingredients and/or steps of preparation to create a killer craft cocktail are at the forefront.

Increasing Culinary Influence
Fresh fruit, roots, nuts and herb-laden libations are all the rage, taking cues from the kitchen with imaginative culinary cocktails filled with farmed foodstuffs. Mixers with all-natural ingredients like Italian lemons, Hawaiian ginger, black walnuts and pumpkins are being utilized to craft distinctive, memorable and crave-worthy flavors.

Locavore Garden-to-Glass Libations
Local and farm-fresh approaches to ingredient sourcing are taking root on cocktail menus. Garden-grown is in; preservatives, concentrates or artificial ingredients are out. Indeed, craft cocktail distillers are turning hand-selected agricultural ingredients grown on their own or neighboring American farms into 100 percent natural artisan liquors that are elevating cocktails, beers and other beverages like coffee and tea.

Moonshine Goes Gourmet
Once just a novelty item, distillers are now getting creative, proffering high-end premium spirits (like Bloomery Plantation Distillery’s SweetShine) that are taking crafted cocktails to an incredible new level using time-honored recipes with a modern spin and hand-crafted technique.

Beer Cocktails
No longer reserved for the world of spirits, beer is being elevated with toppers and mixers, taking barley and hops to a whole new level.

Nostalgia for Prohibition-Era Elixirs
Prohibition was one of the most colorful and complex times in American history, from flappers and suffragists to bootleggers, temperance workers, speakeasies and The Charleston. For some, it was a time of uninhibited expression; for others, a period of resistance. It was a spirited time when moonshiners flourished, in spite of the government’s best efforts, and where the “cocktail” was essentially born. Prohibition-era recipes that use distinctive ingredients – some savory, some bitter, some sweet – are back in vogue.

Fancy Glassware Need Not Apply
Furthering the penchant for nostalgia, mason jars have made a comeback, both as a cocktail shaker for mixologists and as a vintage-inspired drinking glass, trumping classic serving vessels at an increasing clip.

Handcrafted Manufacturing
Today, beverage purveyors are taking a more homespun approach to crafting their wares. For some leading-edge distilleries, for example, the entire process of creating their produce-driven product is handcrafted, from the hand-zesting of every lemon and the hand-chopping of the ginger to the hand-making of syrups and the actual handwriting that goes on every label. This personalized care, concern and charm is resonating in the marketplace.

“There is clearly a growing resurgence of consumers who want to create craft beverages from high-quality, fresh ingredients and sustainability-minded purveyors but don’t want to be burdened with a drink that’s too complex to make,” Losey said.

A tasty, farm-fresh cocktail using eco-conscious components that’s a breeze to make? I’ll toast to that!

“The Luxe List” executive editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at Follow her on Twitter @LuxeListEditor and Facebook at


CocktailsPumpkin Spice Toddy
1 ounce Pumpkin Spice SweetShine
1 ounce bourbon
4 ounces hot tea
Top with whipped cream
Garnish with grated cinnamon

Recipe and photo by Sarah Murphy, Bloomery SweetShine lead mixologist

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