International Inspirations

The Artesian

Global cocktail trends suggest exotic flavor pairings and colorful presentations.

Global cocktail trends suggest exotic flavor pairings and colorful presentations.

I’m fortunate to be invited to many distilleries, bartending contests, and cocktail conferences around the world. At every locale, I visit the local bars to see what’s happening in each city, and while the Internet is bringing bartenders and their recipes closer together, there are still many regional trends to discover with each trip.

Just as cities across the U.S. are at different stages of embracing the cocktail renaissance, so, too, are different parts of the world. In some countries, there isn’t any cocktail culture to speak of, while in others, consumers are just as cocktail crazy as they are in New York City and San Francisco. So, whether customers are cocktail novices or the seen-it-all type, bars afar teach lessons that bartenders can apply here at home.

Variations on a Theme

Over the last decade, Spanish bartenders and drinkers have gone mad for the Gin & Tonic, with even small neighborhood bars carrying a large selection of both ingredients. The drink there is typically served in a big, stemmed goblet glass, with tons of ice and more tonic than we’d typically use here in the States (great for the hot weather), and with a range of garnishes from cinnamon sticks to grapefruit peels to fresh herbs that often echo the botanicals found in each individual gin. Sometimes Spanish bartenders will place five or more garnishes on one Gin & Tonic, piling them up like pickled vegetables on a Bloody Mary.

Spain has never had a strong tradition of cocktails, yet its Gin & Tonic trend has spread throughout the world. Spanish restaurants and other cocktail bars in the U.S. mimic this trend with great success—often including homemade tonic water, which is more a movement Stateside than in Spain. All over the world, customers love an easy-to-understand cocktail that’s made fancy.

Another popular trend is the one drink with multiple variations. This model for cocktails is highly adaptable, even when it’s extremely silly. Take the bar Lebowskis in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland, for example, which has a menu of around 25 variations on the White Russian in each location. It’s pretty amazing the bar can get so much mileage out of a cocktail with milk in it.


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