Maybe your go-to drink choices have started leaving you a little flat and your beverage life could use a bit of refreshment. Luckily for you, 2024 has some intriguing drink trends hovering on the horizon to bring the sparkle back to your glass. We're looking beyond TikTok mischief like sparkling coffee or the puzzling wine and milk mixers that bring the Internet to a screeching halt. These movements are more mainstream and promise to appeal to an audience eager for a splash of excitement, rather than the attention-getting work of online influencers in search of odd ways to increase content and views.
You may notice some familiar favorites making a return appearance, with a creative twist that introduces them to a new generation of drink seekers. The idea is to take your sipping habits beyond the classic cocktails you should know how to make. Even soft drinks will be getting a bit of a shake-up thanks to some ingenious crossover products. From automated bartenders to beverages that help heal you, body and spirit, here's a look at what's coming in the world of liquid refreshment in the new year.
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Sake staked its claim on the beverage scene long ago, paving the way for a new wave of Asian spirits to get their share of the limelight. While that classic Japanese liquor brought the joy of rice-based wine to a broader spectrum of spirit drinkers, other countries have signature distillations due to take their place on bar tops in the new year. Via a IWSR Drinks Market Analysis study published by BevAlc Insights, online liquor seller Drizly confirms the notable uptick in Asian beverages and attributes the growth to the increasing beverage curiosity of 21-turning Gen Z members discovering these unique pours.
Exactly which Asian spirits are finding their way into the glasses and hearts of the sipping set? Baiju, a ubiquitous alcohol in China, is one of the biggies, enjoyed by all classes of drinkers throughout the country. Baiju offers a variety of tasting notes, ranging from lighter floral and rice essences to heartier soy sauce-like flavors. Korea offers soju, a spirit made from rice that imparts a fruity flavor and is best drunk as shots. And the Japanese liquor called shochu received its own California legislation in late 2023, clearing the way for Type 41 licensed sellers to provide a drink that's been lumped together with Korean soju in the past under its own auspices.
Coffee In Cocktails
Maybe you've had your share of espresso martinis, white Russians, and mudslides and you're ready to bid farewell to overbearing coffee-based cocktails. You might be pleased to know that a different batch of craft creations featuring everyone's favorite bean brew will be making their way to the top of the drink menu for 2024. This new bevy of beverages doesn't strive to reinvent the coffee cocktail so much as it takes the concept back to its humble beginnings. Drinks like the Cuban Carajillo, which utilizes Spanish specialty bottle Licor 43 in concert with simple espresso for a two-ingredient soother, and the Dominicana, with its blend of rum, coffee liqueur, and cream, reflect the regional origins of coffee itself.
Looking for a familiar drink you can take in a more java-centric direction? The Cold Brew Negroni introduces Campari infused with cold brew to give the popular digestif even more sophistication. An Espresso Old Fashioned does similarly, allowing a generous pour of coffee into the Prohibition-era favorite like a rascal into a speakeasy. If the history of coffee in the cocktail world has been a story in maximalism, its future is a study in minimalist enjoyment, bringing back the elegance by trimming away the excess.
Smart Cocktail Systems
Aspiring mixologists may be happy to know that 2024 could see the rise of the bartending robots, in the form of AI and digitally-assisted mixology machines. These contraptions could be a novel way to serve those essential drinks you have in your home bar kit while impressing your buddies with your openness to tech-forward beverage craft.
The open-minded barkeep can check out products from Barsys, an early adopter of bringing computerized bartending to the home market. The company offers Coaster 2.0, a clever twist on smart devices that guides human bartenders as they prepare app-based recipes. The sleek and attractive coaster works via Bluetooth to let you know when you've poured enough of each ingredient, a kitchen scale with a warm, Tron-like glow. For hardcore home 'tenders, the Mixologiq Cocktail Drink Machine, a cocktail mixer-dispenser combo, is available on Amazon for a cool $20,500.
For a more showy, commercialized version of the smart cocktail system concept, The Tipsy Robot is already making waves in Las Vegas as a fully automated mechs-ologist Submit your drink order through a tablet at your table and watch the mechanical arms shake, stir, and swizzle a finished cocktail to exacting specifications. There's also a robotic barista from Richtech Robotics, an egg-shaped cross between a KitchenAid stand mixer and a buffer version of WALL-E's digital girlfriend, EVE. The future of beverage craft is upon us!
The days of soda serving up sugary candy-like beverages give way to the era of functional sodas, perky, nutrition-oriented pops with a more noble purpose. By adding live probiotic cultures, Hip Pop's Gut Lovin' Soda line allows fizz aficionados to enjoy their favorite flavors like cola, orange, and lemonade while enhancing their essential gut bacteria. Olipop combines prebiotics with botanical flavorings and plant fiber in its array of top-poppers in specialty combinations such as Banana Cream and Watermelon Lime. Juice concentrates and Stevia help sweeten the pot without adding calories and extra sugar. This if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em spirit and food science ingenuity leads the charge for soft drinks where wellbeing is key to the formula.
How big could the functional soda bubble get in 2024? According to Just Drinks, prebiotic soda purveyor Poppi saw sales through online channels increase 250% between 2021 and 2022. The trend looks to continue into 2024 as conscious consumers seek out clever ways to indulge without sacrificing their wellness goals. As awareness grows, shelves will surely fill with new brands and flavors, all ready to help make the new year more effervescent.
Sophisticated Sweet Sippers
Dessert-style drinks are nothing unique on the beverage scene; shake- and smoothie-like beverages with a hard edge have been enjoyed by cocktail lovers for decades. So where can 2024 take sweet cocktails that prior years haven't? A return to sophistication and gourmet prowess behind the bar seems to be the new direction. Rather than simple fare like a Mudslide (essentially an alcoholic milkshake) or a Dirty Snowman (basically a boozy hot chocolate), these reimagined cocktails feature more elegant baked flavor combinations, like a Key Lime Pie Mojito and a Crème Brulee Martini. The recipes favor refinement over easy entertainment and use a delicate touch for balanced sweetness instead of the heavy-handed application that can oversimplify a mixed drink into the realm of cloying irritation.
As part of this trend, a reintroduction of some classic sweet treats appears to be involved as well. Old-school favorites like a Brandy Alexander could make their way back onto cocktail tables to show the new guard a stylish way to handle its liquor. Even a Grasshopper, with its mint-chocolate blend giving Girl Scout Cookie vibes, is an age-old palate pleaser that offers something more than just a sugary swig.
It's easy enough to recite the familiar wine families in their abbreviated forms; Cab, Sauv Blanc, Pinot (Noir and Grigio), and Zin are all part of the modern wine lover's vocab. But these well-known bottles will be making room for lesser-known hybrid blends in 2024, breathing a breath of fresh air into an industry that loves tradition but also gets jazzed at the idea of introducing something new to the culture.
In the grape realm, exciting cross-breeding between American and European plants has resulted in fruit with unique qualities. Wines like Cabernet Dore and Seyval Blanc will expand the wine lover's vocabulary while challenging the usual suspects in the wine cellar this year. The result is a wider array of options for adventurous tasters eager to find the next big vintner variations.
In the world of wine blends, mixes like amber and orange will seep further into the consciousness of wine shoppers as rosé continues to do, changing the palette of the wine section into a more comprehensive spectrum. Imagine the possibilities for impressing your fellow wine snobs with a bottle they haven't heard of yet!
Super-suds with a foamy top that just won't quit, nitro beers are poised for a blast of superstardom, particularly in pubs and taverns in a big way in 2024. The magic of nitro beers lies in pumping the liquid full of micro-bubbles using nitrogen, resulting in a creamier texture than regular on-tap beer provides. The same process is used to infuse cold brew coffee with froth, and sometimes the two are combined, as in Guinness Cold Brew Coffee Beer. Imagine if you will, your favorite daytime and nighttime drinks putting their heads together in the same glass. That's what nitro beers are set to show the beverage scene in the next 12 months.
While nitro beer is nothing new, having been on the market for decades in the form of Guinness and others on-tap options, the idea of craft nitro permeating the bar landscape thanks to innovators like Left Hand Brewing. The Longmont, Colorado brewer has queued up a delectable selection of stouts with flavors like Peanut Butter and Not The Gumdrop Buttons!, which captures the essence of gingerbread for a dessert beer that just might make your year, sly Shrek reference and all.
If escape is self-care, then enjoying a refreshing tropical drink that summons an island breeze may be the way to surf through the wild waves 2024 is bound to throw your way. But is it possible to return to tiki-style drinks without the troubling cultural appropriation that started the trend so long ago? If 2024 has anything to say about it, the answer is a resounding "yes." Though some may mix and mingle among the list of drinks bartenders would never order, beverage lovers could be diving headlong into the types of drinks that give beach vibes wherever you're drinking them.
You're likely to see blends you've known and loved through the years, as well as some new sips on the block. Good ol' Mai Tais and popular Painkillers may be joined at the bar by the more exotic Caipirinha, a Brazilian delight similar to a mojito that uses sugar cane liqueur to sweeten and fire up the formulation. And classic swigs get a sprig of tropical splendor with a little tinkering, like when banana liqueur joins bourbon to become a Banana Boulevardier, perfect for taking you from the board room to board shorts in a sip or two.
Alcoholic beverages are plant-based by nature, so bringing botanicals to the fore in 2024 is a natural move, and one that's set to put floral and herbal flavor on a pedestal. Botanicals are parts of the plant like flowers, seeds, and leaves that can add natural fragrance and flavor to just about any drink on the counter. But these add-ins are anything but simple, imparting nuance and an element of sophistication to beverages without loading them up with sugary syrups or extra alcohol.
You may have already encountered botanicals in your drinking habits, especially if you've had a gin and tonic. The distillation process for gin includes juniper berries, the botanical that gives the spirit its sprightly pine-like taste and aroma. Adding even more botanicals to gin can produce complex profiles that feel fresh and flavorful, expanding a mixologist's box of tricks and providing cocktail connoisseurs a new direction to aim their order. And these herbaceous add-ins aren't just for bar-based drinks; craft soft drink makers like Casamara Club and non-alcoholic bubbly providers like Dry are also incorporating botanicals to enhance their recipes more gently. Whether you try it out for its potential health benefits or just to have something new at happy hour, this beverage trend offers a perfect opportunity to stop and sip the flowers.
The push toward zero-proof cocktail hour keeps on chugging in the new year, with sober spirits and non-ABV beverages finding even greater presence on the scene. Teetotalers and the sober-curious who are ready to move on from the unpleasant aftereffects of booze may have inspired the trend, and even picked up the entrepreneurial mantle to create a whole section of liquor shelves dedicated to these creative liquor-less quaffs. But a growing resistance to alcohol-inclusive cocktail culture by Gen Z drinkers coming of age seems to be giving this trend staying power into 2024.
This is no simple soft drink movement, however. Sober spirit culture celebrates the complexity of liquor creations, aspects like sophisticated flavor blends and choice ingredients that allow replication of the cocktail experience sans the boozy buzz. Companies like craft cocktail creator Curious Elixirs and botanical spirit-less spirit producer Seedlip put imagination and care into elevated beverages clever enough to fool discerning drinkers into believing they're imbibing, if only by taste.
Zero-proof drink purveyor Ritual even bottles its concoctions with descriptions of the alcohol alternatives each formula substitutes for, making it easy to conjure up mocktails with all the spark of the original recipes. Shirley Temple and Roy Rogers have had their day; 2024 is for top-shelf non-ABV mixes that celebrate the sober side of drinking life.
The relaxation of cannabis laws and attitudes toward the plant across America has led to some interesting beverage formats, including the soon-to-be-bigger CBD drink formulations. This doesn't necessarily mean cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages, though brands like Flyers Cocktail Co. and Happy Flower provide canned cocktails to be favored by some adventurous drinkers. And of course, there are mixologist formulas that can help get you where you're going.
But CBD oils and infusions can also be used to zhuzh up more standard drinks like coffees, sodas, and teas, creating a more holistic source of energy and relaxation for those who partake ... at least that's the marketing angle. Teamakers Buddha Teas offers a tasty line of CBD-rich tea bags that make it easy to soak and sip and settle in for whatever experience your chosen blend promises. Adaptogenic sparkling water crafters DRAM infuses its organic and natural-flavor-free seltzers with 25 milligrams of CBD in each can, refuting the notion that your drinkable high has to include a gutload of sugar. Even DIY CBD drinkers can add flavored drops to drinks they already love for enhancements not found in the beverage market, creating a high probability that 2024 will see big things coming for CBD swigs in all sectors.
As the most consumed beverage in the world, tea has seen its fair share of ups and downs as a preferred drink in the U.S. While kombucha came through to give tea added health benefits, 2024 will see tipsy teas turning the tables on hard beverage fans who love their teatime, too. With cans of familiar brands like Twisted Tea and Arizona Hard in the cooler, you can have a spiked iced tea that refreshes in more ways than one.
For a more mixology-based tea time, look for the addition of spicy chai cocktails and cleverly-named inventions like the Earl Grey Marteani to bar menus through the coming year. Bolder beverages that put tea at the center of the ingredients list include the Ginger Rabbit, a bourbon-based brew that uses syrup infused with anise and black tea in addition to fresh ginger. You can practically feel the fiery flavor biting at the back of your throat. It just goes to show you that the tea you may have thought of as a relaxing end-of-the-day quaff could be getting a whole new nightlife identity any minute now
Fast Food Boba
No longer will you need to depend on boba shops or Asian restaurants to get your bubble tea fix. In 2024, an upswell in fast-food boba will bring lovers of sweet tapioca pearl tea their special sips right at the drive-thru window. This trend was set in motion in 2023, when McDonald's launched test locations for its drink-focused spin-off, CosMcs. Jack in the Box is following suit by presenting its own line of coffee-adjacent boba beverages in select California locations. Snack-serving one-offs like Wetzel's Pretzels and Jamba have been offering boba for a couple of years now, but this is the first time a major player in the fast-food industry has introduced the popular beverage, let alone two at (nearly) the same time.
The connection between boba and fast food hasn't always been a clear one. Bubble tea stands and shops have occupied their own space in the walk-in food sphere, offering little more than drinks and treats, though that's plenty for fans of popping pearls at the bottom of their cups. But success tends to breed integration in the world of quick consumption, so it was only a matter of time before the biggest of the fast-food outlets added boba to already-stuffed menus to see if it floats or sinks.
Read the original article on Mashed.