7 Beverage Alcohol Trends for 2024

Trend picks and predictions for 2024 began rolling in late last year, and we’ve poured over numerous reports. One thing everyone seems to agree on: No-/lo-alcohol drinks are here to stay.

Not only are they expected to increase this year, spirit-free drinks are now or will be part of the year-round beverage lineup rather than Dry January or Sober October specials. We suspect there will always be an uptick in mocktail offerings in January, however.

Another obvious trend is the rise ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails. They will keep on coming in 2024, but as with the hard seltzer boom of a few years ago, the market can’t support them all, and the impact of RTDs on the on-premise is still unclear.

“A new generation is awakening to the idea that a good time doesn’t necessarily require a buzz. As a result, the demand for non-alcoholic spirits and ready-to-drink beverages is expected not just to persist but likely to double in both availability and menu prominence by 2024,”  says Niko Novick, executive of beverage for event space Spiegelworld, with locations in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, NJ, and Nipton, CA.

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Several trend watchers predict that Latin American flavors will influence menus and cocktails. Gourmet flavorings supplier Monin says to expect to see region-specific flavors such as mezcal, tepache and falernum become more popular.

The National Restaurant Association’s 2024 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast also flags tepache (a Mexican beverage brewed with pineapple peels) as an emerging trend. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants’ annual Culinary + Cocktail Trend Forecast cites the rise of Latin American spirits and liquors such as aguariente, singani and cocuy, served within craft cocktails or enjoyed on the rocks.

“I think we’ll see more people play with different spirits from Mexico beyond agave, like fruit-based eau de vies, charandas and some other more indigenous/pre-Hispanic spirits and techniques,” says Nacho Jimenez, co-owner of Superbueno in New York.

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Here are seven beverage/on-premise trends to look for this year.

Palatable Presentations

Whether it’s the Instagram potential or the me-too effect on drink orders, look for unique glassware and eye-catching garnishes this year. AF&Co. and Carbonate’s annual hospitality trends report foresees restaurants getting particularly creative with flight presentations. “Dramatic yet practical towers of wine and cocktail holders (called ‘trees’ by some) allow servers to deliver three glasses or more to the table at once, bringing an element of fun to the whole table and catching the eye of those nearby,” the report says.

Kimpton’s Culinary + Cocktail Trend Forecast predicts textured cocktails for the senses. “Rose and pistachio dust, dragon fruit crisp and edible helium bubble clouds are some of the sensory ingredients diners will soon find on bar menus in 2024 to add texture and visual appeal to the liquid base,” the report notes.

As for garnishes: “From snap peas to using 3D printers, simple garnishes will evolve to elaborate final flourishes that completely transform a cocktail from salty and savory to citrusy and bright in an instant.” For example, the Fire & Ice cocktail (shown atop) at the Kimpton Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara, CA, made with mezcal, Cocchi Americano, grapefruit, blood orange and Campari granite and cinnamon, is garnished with grapefruit and charred cinnamon.

Savory Martinis

Reviews site Yelp says that we should expect to see a drastic increase in savory Martini options, such as Truffle Martinis and Parmesan Martinis, with searches up 131%. AF&Co. and Carbonate listed cheese cocktails one of the year’s drink trends. “The range of use is great — from sweet, creamy cheese foam garnishing a cocktail to hard cheese grated on top or even infused within spirits,” the report says. “However cheese is used, it adds a savory quality and fatty richness that round out a cocktail’s flavors.”

The Caprese Martini at Jac’s On Bond in New York
The Caprese Martini at Jac’s On Bond in New York, with Grey Goose vodka, Lustau Blanco, balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt, and garnished with skewered cherry tomatoes.

In fact, they are so confident in the savory Martini trend that AF&Co. and Carbonate have named the Caprese Martini their drink of the year. Jac’s On Bond in New York makes one with Grey Goose vodka, Lustau Blanco, balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt, and garnished with skewered cherry tomatoes; Casaléna in Los Angeles has a Caprese Martini with gin, tomato, basil, vermouth and tomato celery bitters. Lulla in New York offers a Caprese Sbagliato, a vegetal take on a traditional Sbagliato, mixing Nepeta Amaro, house-made caprese shub, Cynar Venetian Amaro and prosecco.

“Creative bartenders have long incorporated vegetables in their cocktails (think cucumbers, peppers, and the Bloody Mary), but I think less common vegetables like beets, sea kelp, carrots, ube and edamame are starting to be more of a trend,” says John Stanton, director of beverage at Hotel Per La (Bar Clara and Ristorante Per L’Ora) in Los Angeles. “Spirits that accentuate those vegetal and mineral flavors, like sotol, aquavit and of course mezcal, seem to be rising with that trend.” 

Mixologists across the Kimpton portfolio will bring the savory by incorporating different types of fat washing to elevate cocktails that will “shock and delight,” the company’s report says. For example, Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo is offering a Martini that features vodka infused with Japanese salmon jerky.

It’s part of another trend cited by Monin and others of savory ingredients and techniques from the dinner menu moving to beverage. Kimpton bars will use ingredients from the kitchen to upgrade cocktail and non-alcoholic beverages, including biquinho peppers, salsa macha, soy sauce, fish sauce, whole cacao, black tahini, lion’s mane and sweetened condensed milk as an alternative to more traditional cocktail infusions.

The White Stuff

The chardonnay/white zinfandel dominance of recent decades notwithstanding — not to mention the wine industry’s general difficulties in attracting new drinkers — several trend watchers that believe white wine will have a good year. Some also expect orange wines (essentially skin-contact white wines) to heat up in 2024.

White wine blends have been picking up steam across generations with female consumers leading the surge, according to alcohol ecommerce technology supplier Drinks. White blends from Spain, Italy and France all saw at least a 5% in bottle sales from women year over year. Drinks also found that Gen Z drinkers over-index on orders of white wine in October — a trend that’s strengthened year over year. 

The experts at distributor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits believe that sales of sauvignon blanc will continue to rise, as the white wine maintains its popularity across the board. The balanced, food-friendly white wine with a lighter body has enough complexity for wine lovers while also appealing to the palate of younger wine drinkers.

Cocktails with fizz

Spritz cocktails, long a summer staple, have been gaining year-round appeal with guests. Guests want to go beyond the boring Vodka & Soda and ubiquitous Aperol Spritz for drinks that are similar but different.

That may be why searches for the Hugo Spritz  — a light, low-alcohol cocktail typically made with elderflower cordial, liqueur or syrup and topped with prosecco and soda water — were up 1,121% this year, according to Yelp. What’s more, Google’s annual Year in Search data reports that the Hugo Spritz made the top 10 in recipe searches.

The Harmony Gin & Tonic at Valerie in New York
The Harmony Gin & Tonic at Valerie in New York uses Glendalough wild botanical gin, Fee Bros. rhubarb bitters, blood orange tincture and Fever Tree aromatic tonic.

Some expect to see more guests opting for Gin & Tonics, as the new craft gins and gourmet tonics available present unique flavor possibilities. In fact, the Bacardi Global Consumer Survey finds that the Gin & Tonic is the top bar call for 2024, beating out the Mojito and #2 and the Margarita at #3.

Valerie in New York houses one of the largest gin libraries around, with more than 60 different gins and an extensive G&T menu. The Harmony Gin & Tonic, for instance, uses Glendalough wild botanical gin, Fee Bros. rhubarb bitters, blood orange tincture and Fever Tree aromatic tonic.

Tea-based tipples

Mixologists frequent use tea in spirit-free cocktails to give them some backbone and flavor, but tea has been popping up in plenty of boozy drinks, from basic black tea to matcha to hibiscus to chai.

The Green Knight tea cocktail
The Green Knight tea cocktail.

For instance, Matthew Belanger of Death & Co. in New York recently created a cocktail for Chivas Regal called the Green Knight that uses the Scotch with Malibu Rum, Kashmiri green tea, lime juice and honey syrup. The Beeman Hotel in Dallas offered a holiday Bourbon Tini made with espresso, bourbon cream liqueur, Mr. Black Coffee liqueur and chai tea simple syrup.

Bacardi expects to see an uptick in tea-focused ingredients in 2024, as the Bacardi Global Brand Ambassador Survey indicates a growing interest in tea from about a third (32%) of all respondents.

Vincent Bolognini, head bartender at Due West in New York, also predicts a rise in using teas in cocktails, from a traditional black or green tea to different leaves, herbs or spices. “They bring a beautiful depth to any drink and a lovely bitter note that makes you want to take another sip.”

Lagers come back

Alcohol delivery service Drizly (owned by Uber, which in January announced it was shutting Drizly down) notes that more consumers — 43% compared to 38% in 2022 — indicate they plan to drink lager in the coming year, more than any other beer subcategory. A number of lagers launched this past year, such as Dale’s Light Lager, a 4.2% ABV brew from Oskar Blues, maker of Dale’s Pal Ale. Memphis, TN-based Wiseacre Brewing Co. in January unveiled Sky Dog, a 99-calorie premium lager, as well as Hop Zip, a non-alcoholic, hop-infused sparkling water.

cans of Red Rocker Lager
Rock star/spirits entrepreneur Sammy Hagar in 2023 established Red Rocker Brewing Co. in Detroit with a Mexican-style lager inaugural brew.

Rock star/spirits entrepreneur Sammy Hagar in 2023 established Red Rocker Brewing Co. in Detroit with a Mexican-style lager inaugural brew. And the Las Vegas entertainment district Area 15 in January announced the launch of its Signal Lager, a Mexican-style lager created in collaboration with the local Able Baker Brewing.

The Carajillo (and other coffee cocktails)

Espresso Martinis are everywhere and not going anywhere: Hospitality engagement platform Union predicts that the Espresso Martini will outsell the Old Fashioned at on-premise establishments in 2024. But there is a new coffee cocktail in town and it’s called the Carajillo.

The Carajillo cocktail at Eight Row Flint in Houston
Eight Row Flint in Houston makes a Carajillo with sotol, along with Nixta corn liqueur, crème de cacao, cold brew, piloncillo (unprocessed cane sugar), orange blossom water and salted caramel Licor 43 whip.

The cocktail, a blend of espresso and Licor 43, originated in Spain and later became popular in Mexico. It’s now storming the U.S.: Yelp says that searches for Carajillos were up 118% this past year. 

Vera, a Mexican-Lebanese restaurant that opened in Washington, D.C. in May 2023, offers a Carajillo selection. These include the traditional Carajillo as well as two versions with a Lebanese spin: the Ahumado, made with espresso, Cardamom, Licor 43 and Hoja Santa Smoke; and the Mediterranean, made with espresso, Licor 43, Arak and maraschino liqueur.

Eight Row Flint in Houston makes a Carajillo with sotol, along with Nixta corn liqueur, crème de cacao, cold brew, piloncillo (unprocessed cane sugar), orange blossom water and salted caramel Licor 43 whip. (Sotol cocktails are one of the NRA’s emerging trends.)

AF&Co. and Carbonate’s report says that we’ll be seeing even more creative coffee cocktails in 2024. “Top bartenders are joining the best baristas, opening their own coffee shops or being hired by hotels and coffee shops to design their drink programs, enhancing menus with sophisticated coffee concoctions not found anywhere else.”

Melissa Dowling is editor of Cheers magazine, our on-premise sister publication. Contact her at mdowling@epgmediallc.com, and read her recent piece, Celebrating Female Leaders in the Beverage Alcohol Industry.

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