Three Local Mixologists on 2021 Cocktail Trends

Cocktail photos by Aaron Bristol

While the past year wasn’t friendly to new cocktail trends, we are still in the second iteration of the Roaring ‘20s, so 2021 has a better chance of bringing happy surprises to our glasses.

To help you decide what to try in the New Year, we turned to three local talents for their predictions. When you cozy up to your local bar, in your house or down the street, raise a toast to these waves of creation.

DAVE WEISBERG

Mixologist, Johnnie Brown’s, 301 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561/243-9911; johnniebrowns.com

NEW TRENDS? This year is definitely going to see a large influx of small batch spirits from neighborhood distilleries that are popping up everywhere. People are all about supporting local, and I think it’s great to be able to incorporate the small local farms for herbs, fruits and the like. In 2020, low ABV cocktails really started to gain in popularity; however, I think that 2021 will only see this grow exponentially overall as compared to this year.

NEW INGREDIENTS? I believe that fermenting is going to play a huge part in the evolution of cocktails. I’m using fermented chiles in a few different things that I’m playing around with, such as a fermented ghost pepper-infused agave. I’m not sure just yet what I want to do with it, but it’s always fun to experiment. Another item that I’m also using is a fermented habanero to make a habanero mango shrub for an upcoming cocktail.

OLD-SCHOOL CLASSIC COCKTAILS have been taking the world by storm yet again, where we’re definitely seeing more and more variations of Old Fashioneds, Manhattans and so forth. I definitely see a lot more classic tiki cocktails returning, such as the Mai Tai, where I’ve noticed a bunch of different bars putting them on menus and even adding their own twist to it. At Johnnie Brown’s, we have one that’s pretty killer called The Pineapple Express. It’s one of our mostpopular cocktails and tastes like a vacation in paradise—plus it’s really photo-worthy, because it’s served inside a full pineapple.

YOUR FAVORITE COCKTAIL? It’s hard to actually choose a favorite drink, because I’m an equal opportunist when it comes to alcohol. However, I’d probably say The Last Word. It’s a sick gin cocktail that’s crisp and citrusy, and features one of my favorite ingredients, green chartreuse.

PETER GOCHEE

Bartender, Avocado Grill, 125 Datura St., West Palm Beach; 561/623-0822; avocadogrillwpb.com

NEW TRENDS? One trend I am already seeing is more of a switch to premium brands. Drinking at home during the pandemic, many have enjoyed more expensive brands of wine and spirits. People have become accustomed to the taste and will continue to enjoy premium beverages when they dine out now.

NEW INGREDIENTS? People want fresh, local and somewhat healthy ingredients in their cocktails with a focus on sustainability. Small brands, local beer and wine are flourishing. Monk fruit for sweetness is growing in popularity as well. It is keto friendly, has zero glycemic index and, unlike stevia, has little to no aftertaste. In addition, bartenders are now producing their own ingredients such as bitters, syrups, etc. that are taking cocktails to a whole other level.

TRADITIONAL COCKTAILS COMEBACK? I can see variations of classic drinks being prevalent in the upcoming year. Aged rum in a Manhattan or tequila in sangria. … Being creative with your cocktails is a positive byproduct of the pandemic arising from not always being able to get ingredients you want or need. Plus, not being able to work for a few months allowed me extra time to be more creative at home, and that creativity I am excited to share with my guests at Avocado Grill.

YOUR FAVORITE COCKTAIL? Right now my favorite drink is the Old Fashioned. There is something about simply stirring a spirit with a little sugar and bitters that speaks to me. The possibilities are endless. I prefer a mezcal Old Fashioned with a hint of spice, the mellowing of agave and reposado.

VINCENT TOSCANO

Bartender, American Craft Aleworks, 200 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561/425-5799; americancraftaleworks.com

NEW TRENDS? Batching cocktails is the future.

NEW INGREDIENTS? I’m not sure about new, but there will definitely be a comeback of Port wine (red or white) in our cocktails. Like a classic Boulevardier (equal parts bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth), but instead of vermouth a red port, which makes the cocktail more complex and less sweet.

TRADITIONAL COCKTAILS COMEBACK? The old classics never left. They’ve always been and will be part of our inspiration with different twists and variations.

YOUR FAVORITE COCKTAIL? Absinthe is my favorite! I tried my first absinthe when I was 7 years old. I was born in Pontarlier (France), where absinthe was made. I’ve always been fascinated about the way the absinthe was served with the traditional absinthe fountain, absinthe spoon and sugar cube. It’s a slow and sexy process that makes the perfect cocktail from my point of view.

This story is from the January 2021 issue of Boca magazine. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.