Gimmicks will be big, but marketing will become more honest
"Whether people are willing to acknowledge it or not, the biggest trend in 2016 will be wonderful gimmicks. Yes, that’s right – cheesy promotional hooks that momentarily excite people who visit bars. People will embrace this tongue-and-cheek approach that earn their customers hundreds of Instagram 'likes.'
"Is this good or bad long-term for the future of the bar industry? Who the hell knows, but we might as well embrace them and have some damn fun. Look out for neon LED ice cubes, excessive garnishes including anything from children's toys to radioactive fruit salads, and unconventional drinking vessels of all shapes, sizes, materials, and colors. Even the drinking straw is no longer standardized!" -- Bobby Heugel, Anvil Bar and Refuge and The Pastry War (Houston, TX)
"I'm convinced that this is finally going to be the year that everyone stops using the phrase 'simple syrup' when they actually mean the opposite of 'simple.' I'm going to have a stroke the next time I see 'saffron-blueberry simple syrup' or 'jalapeño Earl Grey simple syrup.' Words have meanings, you guys. And the word you're looking for is 'compound,' although at the risk of apostasy, I think maybe we can even stop using the word 'syrup' altogether." -- JD Elliott
"The key word in 2016 is going to be transparency. Brands that hide behind meaningless marketing rhetoric ('small batch,' 'artisanal,' 'handcrafted') are going to have a much harder time getting placements in better bars if they can't answer specific questions about sourcing and production. As our guests grow increasingly informed, it's time for brands to stop hiding behind marketing doublespeak like 'secret family recipe' to allow us to meaningfully describe the differences between the products we carry." -- Joaquín Simó, Pouring Ribbons (New York, NY)
"I have no idea what will come next in the world of cocktails -- I mean, we're already up to artisanal Woo-Woos, and after that can only follow Pestilence, Famine, War, and Death. I do know for certain that the world of spirits will bring us more and more Scotch whiskies released without their age statements, replaced by randomly chosen one-word Gaelic words that sound like names of Japanese cars or international corporations. This will guarantee that nobody will be able to tell a damn thing about what's in the bottle by reading the label, and that anybody going to buy a fine bottle of Scotch could walk home with a bourbon instead." -- David Wondrich, author of Imbibe! and Punch