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It’s not just bartenders and mixologists excited by new trends in the cocktail scene. Cocktail lovers everywhere are looking forward to 2023.

A new season of tastes to discover, and new ways in which bartenders are blending cocktail spirits and ingredients.

Or listening to how cocktail fans want to fill their glasses and enjoy the cocktail experience in 2023.

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Many bartenders say a new age of cocktails is already on the scene. One that reflects a more ‘mindful’ approach to satisfying our taste buds.

Others report that ‘quirky’ cocktails created with totally unexpected spirits are trending right now.

Quality over quantity

2023 is predicted to be the year of “quality over quantity”. With cocktail fans seeking a “high-quality” drink experience.

Bartenders everywhere are reporting more customers are interested in enjoying the pleasures of “premium” drinks. This change is also being seen as a growing interest in quality spirits and premium canned cocktails, too.

Bartenders say 2023 will continue to see the rise of interest in sampling a ‘superior’ crafted spirit, such as rum and tequila.

Rum on the rise

2023 is forecast to be the year of rum-based cocktails. We’ve seen how gin-flavoured drinks took the bar menu by storm in recent years. But rum sales are on the rise – even overtaking whiskey as the new, cool drink to order at the bar.

Dark rum often tends to be savoured straight. So it’s more likely to be rum-based cocktails that will be on-trend.

In 2023, we could see an even bigger boom in Mojitos – the popular summer drink made from white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water, and mint.

Or perhaps, Mai Tai –  the Hawaiin Tiki cocktail made with rum, Curaçao liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime juice.

Tequila top trending

Nearly two-thirds of bartenders say tequila, which is made from the blue agave plant, will continue as a top trending spirit in the year ahead. As tequila-based cocktails rose to the fourth most popular to drink, world exports hit a record high last year.

The trend looks set to continue. Why?

The discerning cocktail drinker is much more focused on high-quality brands for enjoying their in-demand tequila favourites, such as the Spicy Margarita. Made with fresh lime juice, orange juice, and a saucy slice of jalapeño, its ever a playful summer delight.

Martini style revival

The 2023 emphasis on quality mixed with classic style will definitely see the Martini highly sought-after – but with a twist.

Bartenders will be revamping the traditional drink with every variation to create unique flavour experiences.  From the Classic – made with gin (or more recently, vodka) and vermouth – to the vodka Espresso, made with espresso and coffee liqueur.

Even the Dirty Martini could see a tongue-tingling makeover, replacing olive brine for a zingy pickle juice.

This brings us to the prediction for the ‘quirky’ take on cocktail blends.

Cocktails with a quirky twist

Increasingly, creative bartenders are swapping ingredients based on a classic cocktail concept. Then serving these unconventional blends as cocktail classics too.

In 2023, you could be served your favourite classic cocktail mixed with an alternative base spirit. Big influences include the concern for local sourcing, ethical ingredients, sustainability and reducing waste.

This will also likely include ‘NoLo’ – non-alcoholic and low-proof cocktail drinks and  ‘functional drinks’.

Botanical ingredients

Functional drinks are new, non-alcoholic products such as spirits, beers and teas packed with botanical ingredients designed to gently boost mood and give other health benefits.

The rise of non-alcoholic and low-proof drinks is expected to continue in 2023 with many new, low and no-alcohol alternatives to try in 2023. Industry experts predict this trend to grow by nearly a third (31 per cent) by 2024.

Increasingly, cocktail lovers are looking beyond traditional ways and types of spirits and ingredient mixing. But with an eye on a quality experience and ethical ingredients.

Bartenders will be experimenting more and finding cocktail mixes with the twist that their customers demand in 2023.

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Author Costas Nicolaides

More posts by Costas Nicolaides