Hard Cider and Other Beverage Trends to Watch in 2014

Beverage Trends
A round up of the latest trends from the Nightclub and Bar Convention & Trade Show

This year both emerging brands and industry heavy weights converged to deliver new and innovative products to only enhance the bar experience for customers. On the beverage side of things, there was a plethora of alcoholic and non-alcoholic products. Here are the latest trends.    

Healthy and fresh bar mixes.

The cry for bar mixers that aren’t loaded with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial ingredients and therefore unwanted calories has been answered. Ripe Craft Bar Juice claims to be “the planet’s first and only cold-pressed, never heated or frozen fresh juice bar mixer.”  They call themselves “liquid produce.”  Some of its flavors include San Marzano Bloody Mary, made with balsamic vinegar instead of Worcestershire to forgo any unnatural additives. Their other flavors: Agave Margarita, Lemon Sour, Agave Mojito and Bajan Punch, which is their version of a Caribbean-style punch, are also made with also 100 percent natural ingredients. Emerging brand, American Juice Company, also offers a similar product with all natural bar mixes and syrups, like vanilla, complete with the seeds. Simply Squeeze Real will be releasing a line of premium syrups made from 100 percent cane sugar and fruit, April 7. For example, their blueberry syrup is made with Pacific Northwest blueberries. Perfect for the bar it also lends well for baking and desserts, along with molecular gastronomy.

Easy craft mixology.

Bars are now catering to more sophisticated and creative drinkers that want more than wine, beer or the typical vodka tonic. The availability of full-line fresh bar mixes has allowed bars to keep costs down, primarily with labor since all the prep-time has been cut out, not to mention bar space. The fresh and all-natural ingredients of new bar mixers deliver a far better tasting cocktail or mocktail—which is a trend in and of itself.

Delicious vodka.

Vodka companies are still trying to find ways to appease drinkers with flavored vodkas. This year 360 Vodka poured two most popular flavors from their extensive line; glazed doughnut and popcorn. Surprisingly at 70 proof, it really does feel like you have a glazed doughnut or popcorn on your tongue.

Creamy rum.

Tippy Cow (I love this name by the way) has a line of creamy rums. Those of you who love Bailey’s or Godiva, you may want to check this out. Proudly made by Wisconsin cows, the company currently has four flavors: chocolate, orange cream, shamrock mint and vanilla soft serve. It’s like dessert in a glass.

A garden of garnishes.

Edible garnishes are no longer limited to Maraschino cherries, a citrus wedge and brined or pickled ingredients. Fresh Origins offers sugared edible flowers, mini vegetables such as carrots and celery leaves and herbs. They have even ground their garden of ingredients to rim the glass. Now professionals can do a mojito rimmed with ground mint. Talk about flavor from all angles!

Relaxation in a can.

While energy drinks still command a huge portion of the beverage market, there is an immergence of drinks that promise to relax—no it’s not tea. Called Koma Unwind, it was featured in O Magazine. It contains an all-natural concoction of the sleep hormone melatonin; valerian root, to help reduce stress and anxiety; rose hips, full of vitamin C and anti-oxidants; and milk thistle, which has a countless amount of health benefits such as cellular production. This drink claims that it will allow customers to “chill without a pill.”

Hard cider.

Sales of U.S. hard ciders have tripled since 2007 to roughly $600 million in 2012. Hard cider as a category is experiencing year-over-year growth of 75 percent. Enter Anheuser-Busch who will release Johnny Appleseed mid-April, which will be their answer to the growing demand of hard cider. Their recipe is an extensive blend of apple varietals allowing them to never fall short on production. I came to learn that cider is commands a large part of the beverage market in Europe from my friends at Rekorderlig. Breaking into the U.S. market from Vimmerby, Sweden, they offer a line of premium imported fruit cider, such as strawberry-lime, pear and wild berry. Thank goodness for cider—a far better choice than those gosh-awful wine coolers.