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Liquid Libration Trends for Bartenders and Chefs

We’re not saying that cocktails are going to the dogs, just that being creative and Instagramable are part of the beverage program.

Everyone knows you should never encourage drinking and driving, but if you want your bottom line to be healthy, restaurateurs are always looking to drive drink revenue.

And because the general public generally gets bored easily, the industry is always coming up with new ways to get the bar bill higher or convince people to buy nonalcoholic drinks at a premium price. 

La Mesa, a new Minneapolis restaurant, has the expected list of beer and wine, but it's also added a selection of non-alcohol drinks, such as Andean flower tea, traditionally made with amaranth flowers, lime and sugar; and Fioravanti, an Ecuadorian strawberry soda that’s said to be one of the world’s first commercial sodas, according to a story on the restaurant in the Southwest Journal.

Sometimes a new best seller comes along because a customer has requested it. Hassan Ziadi, owner of Moroccan Flavors in Midtown Global Market, said hot mint tea has always been a mainstay of the cuisine, but when he came to Minnesota, someone suggested he take that same tea and brew it, cool it and serve it over ice, “because Minnesotans like cold drinks.” Voila, a new menu item for just the cost of a few ice cubes. 

With the influx of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, one national trend that could be easily adopted here is using uncommon vegetables as mixers and garnishes in traditional mixed drinks. Some examples are beets, radishes, butternut squash, carrots and green beans. While it may seem weird at first, think of the pop of color they offer. 

Another trend for health-conscious drinkers is add-ins to alcoholic drinks, just like smoothies, such as turmeric or ginger. In other words, healthy flavor without adding sugary syrups.

If you want to take it a step further, chefs and beverage experts are distilling all the flavors of a full meal into liquid form, with and without alcohol. To prove it sells, Lafitte in San Francisco is serving a sourdough grilled cheese sandwich-infused vodka martini. Can a Thanksgiving spread be far behind? Alcohol-infused desserts have been around forever, but instead of drinking a milkshake, maybe you have your cake and drink it, too.

One trend that caught our eye is that the food truck craze had morphed into cocktail trucks. In part, they are designed to build brand recognition for certain types of alcohol, but they also are good partners for food trucks at food fairs and outdoor events. Just be sure to check your parking spot's laws. Some notable examples are Leblon Cachaca Caipirinhas Truck (multiple locations, nationwide) and BrewTruc in San Francisco.

But perhaps the biggest trend involves social media (what doesn’t?). Drinks are not just for drinking, they’re for posting on social media. So bartenders are now being asked to not only make a refreshing drink, but a drink that is Instagramable. That means uniform garnishes and more than just a little paper umbrella as a prop.

If you saw Charlies’ finalist Nick Kosevich of Bittercube on WCCO TV with Roshini Rajkumar, last month, you know that even dirt can be used in a drink. Albeit edible food as dirt. 

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