10 Cocktail Trends Bartenders Wish Would Die

There are plenty of new cocktail trends to get excited about, like bartenders raiding the kitchen pantry, resurrected ancient spirits and classic cocktails made new again. But there are definitely a few fads we wouldn’t mind seeing fade into obscurity—and we’re not the only ones. Bartenders have some serious opinions about tired trends. So we gave them an open forum in which they could vent about how paper straws are the worst, admit which spirits they are so over, gripe about gaudy garnishes, and more. Here, the many trends bartenders wish would die in a Fireball-fueled fire.

Large Format Cocktails

“I’m annoyed with barrel-aged Negronis, and I would love to see those disappear. It’s been overplayed to the point where it’s no longer unique.” —Michael Nemcik at Terra Cotta, Los Angeles, CA

“Pre-bottled and draft cocktails—I only say this because I've seen this done poorly where some of the ingredients are not properly stabilized. The idea is great only when the balance of the desired flavors is executed properly.” —Allie Kim at Ronero, Chicago, IL

Overplayed Spirits and Mixers

“I’m looking forward to the end of St-Germain, RumChata and Hendricks Gin—2012 called, and they want their booze back! I’m also over Fernet, as there are so many more great Amaros out there.” —Michael Nemcik

Ginger beer. Let's be over with it already. It seems like an easy fix for a bad Highball. I get heartburn just thinking about it. And Fireball, please? I refuse to carry it at any bar that I run. Instead, I make a wholesome version by adding demerara sugar and cinnamon sticks to a quality whiskey base. Easy to create, and you won't have to consume an ingredient that's also used in antifreeze.” —Allie Kim

Paper Straws

“Drinking out of one of those feels like a trip to the dentist. After two minutes they begin to disintegrate and you are left with the paper mâché project you flunked in the 5th grade. They look cool but are functionally a nightmare.” —Cody Goldstein, LOCL Bar at NYLO Hotel, New York City


“I've noticed that there are more and more cocktails that have vegetables in them. I like the idea of a cocktail being just that—a cocktail. Whenever I see a drink made with kale I always think about that saying: ‘Because no good story starts with eating a salad.’” —Warren Bayani, Chao Chao, New York City

Cutesy and Over-the-Top Garnishes

“Bartenders using those mini clothespins to attach a garnish to an edge of a glass—why?” —Johnny Swet, JIMMY at The James, New York City

“I don't think this one is completely over yet, but I will say I'm happy to see the over-garnished Bloody Mary being phased out. I like to focus on ‘less is more’ at CBD Provisions, even with our Bloody Mary, and use high-quality ingredients rather than overdo it with too many.” —Eric Brooks, CBD Provisions, Dallas, TX

Smoked Cocktails

“One trend that I would be happy to see go is the smoking of glassware. The smoke doesn't stay in the glass. Showmanship for the sake of showmanship just makes you a hot dog, like the guy who never passes the puck in youth hockey.” —Rob Ficks, Craigie On Main, Cambridge, MA

“Overly smoked cocktails need to go. A little goes a long way.” —Johnny Swet

Pretentious Bartenders

“I’m ready to see the brusk bartender go—the bartender that prioritizes a hip or cool attitude over general hospitality.” —Keith Meicher, Sepia, Chicago, IL

“The pretentious and stuffy bartender is the worst! Quit taking yourself so seriously, bubba. The bar should be the home-front of hospitality. A bartender should set the stage for the guests' experience and be personable and fun. Great service can elevate everything.” —Blake Pope, Kindred, Charlotte, NC

The Speakeasy

“Labeling every cocktail bar a ‘speakeasy’ just because the lights were dimmed and there isn’t a big neon sign outside needs to end.” —Keith Meicher

Obnoxious Terminology

“Advertising everything as ‘fresh’ and ‘handmade’ at a bar. All produce and ingredients should inherently be fresh (if possible). It's unnecessary to always use those phrases if you're actually putting them to practice every day at your bar or restaurant.” —Eric Brooks

“I'd love to see the term ‘craft’ disappear. It seems over-used and unnecessary—most blatantly so with American whiskey. Hip new distilleries using craft as an attempt to differentiate themselves from classic staples feels disrespectful to those that created their industry. To me, it insinuates that guys like Elmer T. Lee, Lincoln Henderson and Jimmy Russell were just trying to get drunk and cared little for their ‘craft,’ when the reality is, the popularity of their whiskies has continued because they’ve made consistently awesome products that are made to be enjoyed at a reasonable price instead of labeled craft in an effort to charge twice as much.” —Eric Trousdale, Arbella, Chicago, IL

Excessive Showmanship

“You don't have to shake a cocktail for 45 seconds to get the right balance. Trust me. Take it easy on your elbows there Johnny Shakes-A-Lot. Sometimes over-performing bartenders can be annoying—I do it myself sometimes but you gotta reign it in at a certain point. Some of these people are just so desperate for attention. It just reeks of pretentiousness. A showy bartender is not always a great bartender.” —Richard P. Murphy, Kings County Imperial, Brooklyn, NY