In 2023, drinkers really knew what they wanted. Espresso Martinis? Obviously. Chilled red wines? Already in the fridge. Everyone had their highly specific Martini specs down to a science and knew which allocated bottle of bourbon they were willing to splurge on. So what could possibly change in 2024?
While existing trends will continue to soar, we also expect some that have lain dormant to re-emerge. Is it possible for other coffee cocktails to take off beyond 2023’s beloved Espresso Martini? There’s one that we’re placing our bets on. Will TikTok trends finally drive cocktail bars to full-fledged influencer insanity? Chances are strong. Will the seemingly unstoppable rise of tequila come to a screeching halt? Not likely, but there’s one market that may be in for a rocky road.
Here are 10 drinks trends to look out for in 2024.
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The last few years have seen every spirits category clamber onto the Espresso Martini hype train. That train is still running full speed, with more bars and brands likely to offer other spiked coffee alternatives. The Carajillo is a great contender for the next build to take over menus and shelves, and it’s already gaining steam, as VinePair editor-in-chief Joanna Sciarrino discussed in a recent VinePair podcast episode. But don’t sleep on other classics like the Spanish Coffee, which could outshine its Irish cousin next year.
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Rosé, orange, amber, light red — it feels like we’ve encountered a dazzling spectrum of wine over the past few years. But in 2024, expect to see a lot more wines eschewing color-categorization altogether. We bet that innovative producers will continue to push the boundaries of winemaking by experimenting with co-ferments and varying levels of skin contact, resulting in vibrant wines that are somewhat pink or kind of orange (or both, or neither!) Skin-contact Pinot Gris could be your new light-pink summer drink, and bright fuschia co-ferments of red and white grapes will end up on more dinner tables.
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After several years of momentous growth, the category of super-premium tequila may wane in 2024. While tequila is still trending, recent IWSR data shows that volumes of the premium-plus bottles only rose by 4 percent in the first six months of 2023, after several years posting strong, double-digit increases. Now the lower-priced tequila categories, including the standard and value-price groupings, are growing at a similar rate to the premium plus, though they were previously in decline. As economic pressures accumulate, and the novelty of the premium tequila concept wears off, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a high-profile celebrity tequila brand or two quietly call it quits in 2024.
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Though the IPA gets the most makeovers year-over-year, some breweries are showing more love to their other brews with some bubbles. We’re used to seeing stouts and porters served nitro-style, with the most famous example being the perfectly foamy Guinness, but an increasing number of beers are getting the same treatment. Colorado’s Left Hand Brewing Co. has a whole lineup of nitro beers and just launched a nitro Belgian Wit. The Hudson, N.Y.-based Suarez Family Brewery’s Old English Ale is canned with nitrogen to mimic the cappuccino-like head of a classic northern English cask pour.
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From banana-fied Negronis to rum Old Fashioneds, we’re expecting beloved tropical flavors to take center stage 2024. Though we might see more great tropical bars pop up, like New York’s recently opened Paradise Lost, we think this trend will transcend themed establishments. Expect to see these fruity, complex builds on more bar menus across the country, with bartenders embracing beloved tropical cocktails — Mai Tai, anyone? — as well as putting their own spins on the classics.
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There’s been an onslaught of over-the-top restaurants over the past several years, shoved to the forefront by influencers and social media’s thirst for high-energy, 30-second reviews. Let’s call this category “chaotic fine dining.” This year we saw full servings of pasta being poured out of cocktail shakers, individually plated pepperoni cups, mounts of uni and fatty tuna topped with gold-dusted caviar, and conveyor belt omakase spots that look more like fun-houses than dining rooms. We expect to see cocktail bars invoking this same level of silliness in in 2024, and while many bar programs will continue to embrace theatrics with skill and grace — like the impressive presentations seen at NYC’s Shinji’s — there are sure to be establishments aiming to go TikTok-viral that will take things too far.
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In recent years, Scotch brands have attempted to stay relevant among young drinkers by insisting the spirit is an ideal cocktail ingredient — especially following tequila’s success with the Margarita and gin’s increased presence through the Martini. This strategy, though, ignores Scotch’s core strength as a premium sipping spirit. The Macallan is one brand that’s stuck to its guns as a luxury product, and has been majorly successful in doing so. We predict that other distilleries will use The Macallan as a guide and return to marketing Scotch as a high-end spirit to enjoy on its own.
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It’s tequila’s time here in North America, but across the Atlantic — much as with bourbon — drinkers have yet to fully take to the spirit. Multiple corporations are looking to correct this, and they’re using grapefruits to do it. Diageo CEO Debra Crew recently spoke to The Wall Street Journal about the company’s plans to “take tequila around the world” by pushing the Paloma during events with bars and in its messaging to consumers. Don’t be surprised if you see a surprising number of pink highballs alongside all those Aperol Spritzes during your next eurotrip.
A massive wave of wine bar openings swept the nation this year, but many of the most successful examples barely resemble wine bars at all. These establishments often offer no actual bar seating, and are instead set up like typical restaurants with large dining rooms and extensive food menus. Spots that have followed this format have received a lot of buzz, and there’s also an argument to be made that it’s easier to turn a profit and sell more bottles when you’re offering a large food menu. So even though some true-to-form wine bars will continue to pop up, we’d recommend doing a little research before popping in for a glass at happy hour come the new year.
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There’s no denying that bartenders and bar-goers alike have become enamored with clarified cocktails, and we’re not surprised: They’re easy to serve during service, and there’s something thrilling about seeing a Rum & Coke or a Piña Colada arrive utterly transformed. As more bartenders perfect this technique and more drinkers become familiar with the concept, we’re betting you’ll see menus stacked with clarified versions of classic builds throughout the year.