Bubbly’s Popping and Drinks Are Fired Up: Check Out These Top 10 Cocktail & Wine Trends

Based in Dallas and Miami, Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits—a leading distributor operating in 44 states—spotted 2022's hottest innovations by sampling 431 drinks in 83 restaurants, bars, and hotels across the U.S. From chilling red wines to "batching" fast cocktails to using smoke and "air" for flair, businesses across North Texas and around the country can take on these trends, too.

“These unique insights can be incorporated into any on-premise business to build greater success through strategic and innovative beverage programs,” says Southern Glazer's Brian Masilionis.

Innovation happens in a glass every day, as mixologists devise new ways to craft tempting drinks. To spotlight what’s new for 2022, a team from Dallas- and Miami-based Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits travelled from coast to coast sampling 431 drinks in 83 restaurants, bars, and hotels.

Today the resuits came in. Southern Glazer’s identified the Top 10 cocktail and wine trends for 2022, based on its Liquid Insights Tour of Kansas City, New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Los Angeles. 

Brian Masilionis, the company’s director of on-premise commercial strategy & national accounts, led a team of mixologists on the tour to examine product offerings, pricing, promotional approach, people, service, and process.

Innovative trends can shake up profits in North Texas and beyond

All images in this story are from Southern Glazer’s 2022 Liquid Insights Tour [Video stills: Southern Glazer’s]

“Our driving purpose for conducting the Liquid Insights Tour was to uncover innovative beverage trends and experiences across the country to ensure Southern Glazer’s continues to have the most knowledgeable sales consultants in the industry,” Masilionis said in a statement, adding that the 2022 innovations can be incorporated by businesses everywhere—including right here in North Texas.

“We’re excited to offer these insights to help speed the recovery from the pandemic and make this segment stronger and more consumer-focused than ever,” he said.

Industry data and internal insights helped shape the findings

Southern Glazer’s says the Top 10 list reflects not just the recent tour, but also industry data and internal insights. Key factors influencing the trends include “an aging population, demographic and ethnic diversification of the U.S., a preference for health and wellness among consumers, and ongoing ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting the hospitality industry.”

Hope you’re thirsty—’cuz here come the trends:

Scotch and soda? That’s so 2021. This year, bartenders are pulling out all the stops by finding unique combinations to pour over ice—like Scotch and corn liqueur. They’re also blending rum with cognac; shaking up gin and mezcal; mixing cognac with rye; and giving Scotch a Negril Beach twist with a shot of Jamaican rum. 

Top secret herbs and spices aren’t just in KFC. They’re also being used in some of the hottest 2022 cocktails to balance the drink or add layers of flavor. an innovative variety of methods or modifiers to balance the drink or add layers of flavor. The Southern Glazer’s team came across an innovative variety of methods and modifiers, including the use of acids; sugars and syrups; salt; herbs and spices; coffee and tea; and utilizing fats beyond animal fats. Adding ice or heat with things like stamped ice or smoked ice was also spotted often.

Like a little jolt with your cocktail? Then you’ll like this reprise of a big ’90s trend. The Espresso Martini was “the standout cocktail of the tour,” the team says. Across the U.S., mixologists are giving the classic new life through creative ingredients like the Italian herbal liqueur amaro, coffee liqueurs, brandy with espresso, or cold brew.

Alcohol-free drinks are getting fancy—and expensive. Forget about that blah glass of club soda with lime. Now non-imbibers can belly up to the bar and order something flashy like everyone else. “Elevated, delicious, and pricey as their alcoholic counterparts,” non-alcoholic cocktails are featuring many of the same ingredients, flavors, and elaborate presentations as their intoxicating counterparts. 

Champagne is popping up more often on bar menus everywhere, infusing a touch of celebration as we emerge more fully from the pandemic. Throughout the tour, sparkling options were spotted by-the-glass, with a variety of sparkling wines gaining greater presence atop wine lists. Bartenders were also mixing sparkling wines into cocktails to boost their effervescence, crispness, and sweetness.

Refrigerators. They’re not just for chardonnay anymore. The Southern Glazer’s team noticed that menus across the U.S. are offering chilled selections of red wine and sweet wines. Also, orange wines appeared more frequently than ever before, frequently presented in a combined rosé and orange section on many menus.

The hottest new acronym is BTG—as in “by the glass.” The tour revealed curated by-the-glass and premium half-bottle wine options are becoming more diverse, with more balanced offerings of domestic and international vintages. The team also spotted a growing trend of wines priced to sell with “good value” in either BTG or by-the-bottle formats—with a goal of driving up orders, not just aiming for high margins.

Batching cocktails in bulk makes them consistent—and faster to sling around the bar. Like Tom Cruise in “Top Gun,” bartenders feel the need for speed. To get ahead of the game and ease bar waits, a greater prevalence of “batching cocktails” was spotted on the tour. It’s done either partially, by mixing up only non-perishable items in advance, or fully by shaking up many servings together. The result isn’t just faster serving times. It also improves quality and consistency in cocktail prep, allowing more time for the staff to connect with customers.

How much flair is too much? If you have to ask, you’re not on top of the flair trend. Because you can never have too much flair. On the tour, the Southern Glazer’s team spotted bartenders using everything from vapors to “air” to billowing clouds of smoke to fiery torches, all in the name of making a drink an unforgettable experience. Other techniques they saw included unique glassware like the cat mug above and a reprise of “shared communal drinks.” (Grab a straw. Any straw.)

Menus use to have simple lists, from Harvey Wallbanger to Sex on the Beach. But 2022 menus can look more like the Great American Novel, with creative storytelling, lengthy drink descriptions, elaborately humorous drink names, and more. QR codes became a high-tech call sign during the pandemic, and now they’re delivering a long list of broader offerings and info—from account-specific Spotify playlists to “ever-changing allocated spirit offerings.” The best part? Businesses can update them on the spot, with no need to send a big order to the printer. 

Wow…making people happy in innovative ways, while making life easier for businesses in Dallas-Fort Worth and beyond? We’ll drink to that.

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