The Most Anticipated Cocktail Trends Of 2024

A fresh wave of cocktail and mixology trends awaits your tastebuds in 2024. While there are trends like fat-washing cocktails with oils and milk are slowly garnering interest, certain consumption patterns are making a comeback. Boozy umami bombs, clarified cocktails, and aroma guns are trends which are finding their footing across the Indian mixology scene. 

There’s a growing emphasis on sustainable bars and minimalist, seasonal cocktails and savoury concoctions. Some trends, however, have already been making their presence felt for the last few months and may just peak this year. A few experts weighed in on some of the most-anticipated cocktail trends of the year

Sour Flavours 

Sours are not just elevated in profile but also tend to offer more depth, be it by echoing the notes of citrus-y liqueurs like triple sec and Curaçao, or by pairing off the base spirit with tart notes found. “Sour is the new sweet,” says Rameez, the bar executive at Kolkata’s Refinery 091. “The bold allure of sour notes is a new highlight of 2024. You can explore this flavour with drinks like a Red Berry Whiskey Sour or a Pink Berry Gin Sour.”

“Rum and tequila bases are the most popular at the moment, besides whiskey; all these options work great with sours. I think most people find sours to be more layered, they might think they’re getting more in terms of flavour,” says Nishanth Roy, a mixologist from Pune. Sayan Ghosal, the senior bartender at Kolkata’s Roots, prefers the simpler, straightforward sour notes in cocktails, especially for beginners. “Yuzu and hibiscus can create refreshing and vibrant blends,” he says.

Aged Rum Cocktails

Premium, sippable aged rums have been gaining steady traction; longer-aged and unique barrel selections are being preferred as cocktail bases. “Aged rum cocktails were considered too exotic even for a tropical country like ours. But now, thanks to globalisation, the audience is keener to explore,” says Siddhartha Sharma, the founder of Piccadily Distilleries. The homegrown distillery brand that introduced India’s first pure cane juice rum, recently added Camikara 3YO to their selection of aged sipping rums which undergoes an extensive ageing process of 3 years. 

 “This spirit, when expertly combined with different ingredients, yields a luxurious and flavourful cocktail experience equally fit for warm summer evenings and for relishing by the fire on chilly winter nights, thereby challenging the notion of rum as a seasonal beverage,” says Sharma.

‘90s Pairings

Is it any wonder ‘90s iconic cocktails are back when we can’t get enough of the Noughties reboots? Besides drinks like Cosmopolitan or Harvey Wallbanger that found peak popularity in the nineties and early 2000s, fruit-forward blends, lemon drops, and buttery Snapple cocktails are also resurfacing. “I think the cocktail culture was taking itself too seriously for a while; the ‘90s were different, drinks were cheekier but also simpler and approachable. I definitely see this element coming back, something that’s easy on the nose and has a nice balance will always find takers,” says Smriti Sen, a freelance mixologist, based out of Bengaluru. 

Coffee Flavours

If you thought coffee cocktails were everywhere in 2023, expect the trend to continue this year as the market too seems ready to cater to the demand. 2023 saw the release of Quaffine, India’s first cold brew coffee liqueur, made with 100% Arabica beans sourced from 3,500 feet above sea level in Chikmagalur. 

Nitro coffee has also made its presence felt in bars across the country; this type of nitrogen-infused coffee tends to be creamier and less bitter than regular coffee, so it can add richness to cocktails without being too bitter. “Coffee is emerging as the star ingredient of 2024's mixology scene,” confirms Rameez.

Experiential Cocktails

Experiential mixology is still going strong and is only getting edgier. The concept of themed cocktails at events or immersive cocktail experiences and even retro inspirations, like mint juleps or neon-lit drinks are being revamped. “The adventure-seeking nature of millennials and Gen Z has led to the ascent of experiential cocktails. For instance, we have crafted cocktails celebrating India’s tropical flair by incorporating mangoes and dates respectively. They create a memorable moment for the consumer, served in distinctive barrels and old-fashioned glasses. It’s just a delightful way to savour their richness,” says Sharma.

Craft Ice

“I like fancy ice because it’s just that… fancy!” says Vani Choudhari, a techie from Chennai, who enjoys unconventional ices in her cocktails. “I keep seeing videos on YouTube about how each icing shape affects the dilution, but I just like them for how they look.” Rameez confirms, “ This year, it's all about the craft ice cubes that take mixology to new heights.”

Craft ice or artisanal ice is set to gain more visibility as ultra-clear ice and custom ice moulds find takers, along with ice stamping and melted intricate patterns. While there are many ways of producing and using artisanal or designer cubes, generally large, clear ice cubes are being favoured for top bars as their rate of melting is slower and it also decreases the rate of dilution, hence preventing the drink from turning watery too quickly. Not to mention they can amp up the look of a drink and glassware