Sipping into the Future: 6 On-Premise Beverage Trends to Watch in 2024

Non-alcoholic beverages meet the mainstream, theatrical mixology takes center stage, and the bold and bitter trend is making a comeback

By Mallory Ambrose | January 25, 2024

As we step into a new year, the on-premise beverage landscape is abuzz with anticipation for the exciting trends and innovations that are set to redefine the art of mixology. From bold flavor combinations to cutting-edge techniques, 2024 promises to be a year of elevated experiences for beverage enthusiasts. Here’s a glimpse into the rising trends that will undoubtedly shape the on-premise scene in the coming months.

Exotic Flavor Infusions: A Journey for the Palate

Get ready to embark on a global flavor journey right at your favorite on-premise establishment. Mixologists are exploring exotic ingredients and infusions inspired by international cuisines. Think lemongrass and kaffir lime from Southeast Asia, hibiscus and agave from Latin America, and unique spice blends from the Middle East. The result? Cocktails that transport your taste buds to far-flung destinations.

Beyond the Espresso Martini

Rising in popularity over the past few years to become one of the top ten cocktails in the U.S, according to a report by CGA by NielsenIQ, the Espresso Martini has ushered in a new era of coffee cocktails.

To that degree, many of the top cocktail bars are eschewing variants on the Espresso Martini in favor of other coffee cocktail expressions. Backbar, a bar inventory resource revealed that more than half of North America’s 50 Best Bars have coffee cocktails on their signature menus, with less than half of those cocktails appearing as Espresso Martini variants.

Beverage pros are also placing bets on other classic coffee cocktails unseating the Espresso Martini in the coming year. According to Google Trends, interest in the search term “Carajillo” has doubled in the past year, with some early predictions that the two-ingredient Mexican coffee cocktail might be the “it” drink of 2024.

Smoke and Mirrors: Theatrical Mixology Takes Center Stage

In 2024, expect mixologists to bring the drama to your glass. Smoking techniques, whether using wood chips, herbs, or spices, will add a layer of complexity and intrigue to cocktails. Theatrical presentations, like cloaking drinks in a swirl of mist or serving them in smoke-filled glass domes, will captivate not just your taste buds but also your senses.

Crafted Mocktails, Low-ABV and Sessionable Cocktails: A Prolonged Celebration

No/low-alcohol beverage consumption has exploded in recent years, with a Nielsen IQ report showing double-digit growth for the non-alcoholic category between 2020 and 2022. This year saw the category expand and evolve even further, with the development of mainstream retail opportunities, tasting room experiences, and the arrival of a mid-strength alcoholic sub-category.

The rise of non-alcoholic cocktails continues in 2024, but with an elevated twist. Crafted mocktails are stepping out of the shadows, showcasing intricate flavor profiles, unique ingredients, and meticulous preparation. For those abstaining from alcohol, the on-premise experience is no longer about compromise but rather a celebration of inventive and satisfying non-alcoholic alternatives.

Moderation is key, and the trend of low-alcohol-by-volume (ABV) and sessionable cocktails is set to gain momentum in 2024. Perfect for those seeking a lighter option without compromising on flavor, these drinks allow patrons to savor the experience over an extended period, making it ideal for socializing and creating a convivial atmosphere.

Sustainable Sipping: Eco-Friendly Libations

As sustainability takes center stage across industries, the beverage world is no exception. On-premise establishments are embracing eco-friendly practices, from using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients to incorporating sustainable spirits and reducing waste. Expect to see innovative cocktails with a green conscience, showcasing a commitment to environmental responsibility.

According to a Pew Research Center report, Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) is the most diverse population to date, with the potential to be the highest educated. As such, its progressive ethos has already begun to impact the industry, with 47 percent wanting to support brands that prioritize sustainability credentials, according to a 2023 ICSC report.

Spirits brands with ethical and sustainable credentials look set to draw these new drinkers. The same ICSC report noted that 56 percent of respondents said they would spend more to purchase sustainably sourced products.

Bitter is Better: Resurgence of Bitter Flavors

The bitter trend is making a comeback, with bold and bitter flavors taking the spotlight. Amari, herbal liqueurs, and bittering agents like gentian are becoming essential components of cocktails. The interplay of bitter, sweet, and savory notes creates a sophisticated and complex drinking experience that appeals to seasoned cocktail enthusiasts.

2024 promises a thrilling ride for on-premise beverage enthusiasts, with a fusion of global flavors, theatrical presentations, sustainable sipping, and the resurgence of bitter profiles. As the industry continues to evolve, the on-premise experience becomes not just a drink but a carefully curated journey for the senses. Here’s to a year filled with innovation, creativity, and unforgettable sips!