Ten years ago Imbibe asked the team at IP Bartenders – Ben Reed, Paul McFadyen and Nick Wykes, plus new arrival Emma Davis – what they thought the coming decade might hold for the bar/drinks world.
While looking for a place in the giant Imbibe garden to bury the body of the latest office junior to have got his coffee order wrong, our editor came across their answers, hidden in an old trunk containing 10 years of back issues and what remains of his cold, dark soul.
Oh alright, we found it online. Whatevs…
Some of their answers were serious, some of them were less so. But 10 years on, how did they do? I mean, do these people even know what they’re talking about?
‘People care a lot more about what they’re putting in their bodies, so healthy ingredients will be huge’
Bullseye. Totally right. What began as a micro trend has blossomed into a full-on Thing. From acai to ginseng and kombucha to power brunches it’s all about health now, dahling. And don’t even get us started on low and no…
‘We’ll see a lot of silly made-up brands die out’
Hmm. Yes and no. We have seen a few silly made-up brands die out. But there always seems to be more where they came from. Repeat after me: pugs and unicorns do not belong on bottles of gin.
‘In the bar world, huge corporate chains will become a thing of the past’
While the likes of massive bar chains such as All Bar One have continued to trundle along, their importance in the UK drinking landscape has diminished somewhat. It’s the independents that have led the trends and the conversations. We have witnessed other chains in the ascendance in the form of Be At One (32 venues and counting) and London Cocktail Club, however. But rather than offering bland cookie-cutter interiors and lukewarm Pinot Grigio, this new generation of chain is usually quirky, fun and puts drinks and service right at the top of the list.
‘Fruits will become seasonal, which means drinks will have to as well’
Seasonality is more of a thing than it used to be – and it did start 10 or so years ago. But it’s more of an optional extra than something driven by, you know, nature. That said, the whole foraging thing has added a layer of seasonality that wasn’t there before. Can’t walk through woodland now without falling over a bartender fossicking around for a rare type of mint. Or borage. Maybe Brexit can do what supermarkets couldn’t by trashing our supply chains. Looking forward to the Turnip Cosmopolitan…
‘The future will be about authenticity and sustainability’
True dat. The whole hipster thing was founded on authenticity and sustainability, even if (cynicism klaxon) it was just for show. Beards, tats and Peruvian nut spirit made by a near-extinct tribe on the slopes of the Andes, served in an old shamanic pot. We’ve all been there.
‘We’ll have robots cleaning our homes, and bartenders shaking cocktails in jam jars’
No robots at home yet, though in the world of wearable technology and Internet of Things it’s quite possible for your shirt to have an in-depth discussion with your fridge about how many granola bars you’ve eaten that day. And your cleaning staff might have come to your venue/house via a driverless car or an Uber, which is the next best thing to being driven by a robot. Regarding jam jars, bartenders have actually gone in the opposite direction, lionising fancy Japanese barware and not being seen dead without their roll-up kit bags.
‘Whenever there is a giant step forward in technology, there is also a return to retro methods’
If the noughties were all about chemistry and science, molecular mixology and bloody misting, the teenies have been home-made tinctures made from foraged boscage and the ground-up thigh bone of a tiger, purchased on Amazon. Oh, and Prohibition/speakeasies. It’s kinda retro. So yes, big tick.
‘Let’s bury the energy drink in a time capsule’
Okay, this was more a plea than a prediction, but I think it’s one we can totally all get on board with. Sadly, Redbull, Monster et al are still out there doing a great job of proving that it’s possible to sell flavours that are undrinkable provided you put enough sugar and caffeine in them, but millennials – to their eternal credit – seem not to be that impressed by the whole energy drink thing. There is hope for the world.
‘A new gin brand will be up there as the gin category grows in size’
Well, not inaccurate exactly. But not quite accurate either. Gin has, we can say without fear of contradiction, grown in size. But there is not one new gin brand, there are A BAJILLION new gin brands. Some of them might have the lifespan of a mayfly, but there are half a dozen must-stocks that most venues would probably agree on that weren’t around back in 2009. Did we mention that pugs and unicorns DO NOT BELONG ON BOTTLES OF GIN?