Food & Drink

The “It” Cocktails of 2018, According to Bartenders

If you’re still hanging tight to your Frosé, we’re here to remind you that a new year is nigh. The start of 2018 will bring a plethora of fresh cocktail trends, which means it’s time to let go of last year’s unicorn cocktail. We asked 19 bartenders what they think the “It” cocktail of 2018 will be. From improved energy drinks to old-school classics, there’s a drink on the rise to please every palate.

Martini

“I feel that 2018 will have a focus on Martini culture, be it vodka or gin. From a really good Dirty Martini, to a 50/50 Martini, riffs like a Gibson to the precursor to the Martini, The Martinez. I think we will see some exciting creations and a great interaction with the concept from imbibers who haven’t played much with this cocktail before.” — Johnny Swet, JIMMY at The James

“I see the ‘It’ cocktail as a drink that actually has the word ‘It’ in it—the classic Martini. I think vermouths are coming into style right now, and so many incredible producers are putting out great variations of sweet, bittersweet and dry vermouth. Adding in your own spin with bitters, saline solutions, high quality accoutrements and even a sherry rinse will open up this classic to new levels.” — Cody Goldstein, The Flying Cock and The Horny Ram

“The Martini, for a few reasons. It’s a classic symbol of elegance, maturity and discretionary taste. While it’s easy to make a bad one, it takes work, practice and dedication to make a great one. It also allows the customer to express some personality in his or her order (gin or vodka, shaken or stirred, twist or olive, etc.) while still getting a clean (or dirty), simple drink. A lot of drink menus these days are just lists of obscure alcohols that give customers ingredient fatigue. The Martini solves that problem.” — Jeremy Allen, MiniBar Hollywood

Moscow Mule

“My bet on which drink will transcend basic cocktail culture and hit the mass market would be on the Moscow Mule or a Moscow Mule adaptation. Last I checked, the Moscow Mule and the Margarita were the top two most Googled cocktails in the U.S. You can make really yummy adaptations. By swapping bourbon for the vodka, it's a Kentucky Mule. Because mezcal is trending as well, perhaps a Mezcal Mule or Buck will rise in the cocktail world, and the Moscow Mule will continue to rise in the larger consumer market.” — April Wachtel, Swig + Swallow

Mezcal Negroni

“We didn’t even serve mezcal until two or three years ago, and now two out of the nine drinks on our menu are mezcal cocktails. Of course, industry people have been sipping mezcal for years, but now it’s a regular Friday night customer’s order: Vodka Soda, Old Fashioned, Mezcal Negroni.” — Turlough O’Neill, Wilfie & Nell

A Better Energy Drink Cocktail

“People used to ask for Red Bull all the time, but not as much now. We're using a new botanically-based drink called Libertine as a component of some of our new cocktails. It's slightly caffeinated, more herbaceous and much less sweet than typical energy drinks. We love it.” — Pete Vasconcellos, The Penrose

Frosé (Again)

“Summer 2018 will still be Frosé. People are not over summer rosé, and in slushy form with peach purée and vodka, it's unstoppable.” — Lindsey Taylor, Smith

“Frosé will be something we see more of next year. Rosé has made its way into the mainstream—I feel like I can’t go anywhere these days without seeing a t-shirt or coffee mug that says ‘rosé all day’ on it. Not going to lie, I would drink them all day given the opportunity. They could become just as loved as the PSL, but no telling until next year!” — Spencer Osburg, Bravas Bar De Tapas

Americano

“I think that the next big drink will be the Americano with equal parts amaro and sweet vermouth, served over ice and topped with soda water. Amaro is becoming more popular by the day with consumers, and the Americano is the perfect balance of bitter, sweet and refreshing." — Chelsea Nightengale, The Watch at The Restoration

Boulevardier

"The revival of craft cocktails, mixed with the growing love for whiskey this year, will drive the Boulevardier's popularity. This easy-to-make, three-ingredient, balanced cocktail is a win-win for both bartenders and drinkers alike." — Myles Grene, FIRE at the ART, a hotel

Milk Punch

“We are constantly revisiting, reworking and paying tribute to classic and vintage cocktails, and this cocktail stems back to the late 1600s / early 1700s—even Benjamin Franklin had a recipe! This is also a great cocktail to support the sustainability movement that is gaining more and more traction every day within our industry. A Milk Punch is batched, meaning it uses less water in the preparation process and less ice, and it’s a great way to use bar ‘scraps’ such as citrus zest from fruits that have been juiced. Lastly, it has endless possibilities. Milk Punches leave an abundance of room for creativity, from the spirit you choose to the citrus and the spices." — Christina Mercado, Grace Vanderbilt

Harvey Wallbanger

“You see vintage cocktails making resurgences by generation. Eight years ago, it was the speakeasy and classic cocktails, and more recently, 1940s and ‘50s tiki drinks. Naturally, you would guess the ‘60s and ‘70s would be next.” — Cory Alberto, Grant Grill

Sazerac  

"I think you’ll see the Sazerac make a push back into the culture, mostly from whiskey lovers who are looking for a cocktail other than an Old Fashioned that is spirit-forward, interesting and has a history behind it." — Brian Blevins, Artizen Crafted American Kitchen & Bar

Japanese Highball

"This year saw an incredible jump in the opening of new Japanese bars and restaurants in the U.S., and especially in NYC. I think you're going to continue to see that market grow as Americans are understanding Japanese food and beverage culture more and more. Therefore, I think the most iconic drink with potential as the ‘It’ drink for 2018 is the Japanese Whisky Highball. Liquor companies like Suntory are doing a great job of showing us bartenders in America the reverence for that drink." — Frank Cisneros, Bar Moga

“I think that 2018 will be a year of focusing on the spirit, more so than the treatment of the spirit in a cocktail. I think that the Whisky Highball will be the trend of the next year. As with everything, there is a big movement to return to basics, and a well treated Highball is simple, refreshing and delicious. My Highball of choice is Yamazaki 12, no ice, no garnish.” — Trish Gavin, Tullibee

Gin & Tonic

“Gin & Tonics with a European bent. Bartenders are gifted with a vast array of local gins and farm fresh herbs and botanicals to accent flavors to guests’ palates. That's a lot fun.” — Rustun Nichols, The Osprey

Old Fashioned 

“I don’t think the Old Fashioned is going anywhere, and I believe it will continue to be the most ordered drink in the U.S. in 2018—and that’s a good thing. A well-made version is going to do what every great cocktail does, and that’s let the base spirit shine. It’s approachable, easy to make, and customizable to your tastes.” — Jon Howard, Henley

Aviation

“I think classics will continue to make comebacks, and one of my favorites that we have been getting demands for is the Aviation. It’s a pre-Prohibition wonder made of gin, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, crème de violette and lemon juice that’s served up with a cherry. The crème de violette adds a striking blue color to the floral and citrus flavors that end with a dry finish.” — John Michael O’Shea, Lombardi Family Concepts

Daiquiri

“I think we’ll see something that’s both fun and has the ability to be adapted in new and delicious ways, like the Daiquiri. It’s the year I’ll finally put the Pedialyte Daiquiri on the menu—I’ve been thinking about this one for a while, as it can treat a hangover, prevent a hangover and it tastes delicious. Let’s have some fun, people!” — Cat Cannon, Federal Galley