This year, patio season will be a celebration of socializing. After the social drought of the last two years, James Peden, wine director and director of Operations at Liberty Entertainment Group, believes “premium products will be more in demand. Clients may be having their first dinner out in six months and to celebrate getting their freedom back, they’ll want a ‘top-shelf’ experience.”
He calls this trend of “premiumization” a really positive change and says in general, clients want ingredients that they understand and cocktails that are exactingly executed. Patrons will appreciate detail and subtlety in their drinks as well as the bartender’s skilled creativity.
James Grant, the Diageo World Class 2021 Global Bartender of the Year, and his colleagues at Edmonton’s chic Asian-influenced cocktail bar Baijiu, believe this year will “see agave spirits like tequila and mezcal continue their rise in popularity.” There will also be “a good iteration of a classic margarita [along with] blended margaritas done at a high level.”
Grant says blended drinks in general seem primed to be a major part of menus — from classics such as piña coladas and frozen daiquiris, to blended takes on modern classics such as a blended Penicillin or a Miami Vice. “Blenders seem like they’re ready for their moment in the spotlight,” he adds.
There is also a trend to a “modern execution” of pre-prohibition drinks such as the Old Fashioned, according to Peden. Additionally, he predicts there will be an emphasis on quality and freshness of the ingredients used, such as agava or herbs and Tequila and mezcals will find their place in the sun this patio season as well.
Sustainability and reduced food waste are also trending, Peden notes, as the leftover ingredients of one cocktail get utilized in the preparation of another. Consideration of clients’ veganism or intolerance of egg whites is also guiding cocktail creation. While cocktails may still arrive to table with umbrellas, they’ll be curated with less sugar and with bitterness as an accent — even in classic drinks such as daiquiris or margaritas.
Social awareness also means that Black-owned distilleries and the products of female winemakers will gain more prominence during patio season, says Peden.
By J. Lynn Fraser