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Five cocktail trends for 2019

House of Angostura's Rock Shandy cocktail. Supplied

House of Angostura's Rock Shandy cocktail. Supplied

Published Nov 27, 2018


Any seasoned cocktail drinker will know, part of the fun is enjoying new flavours. So to make sure you’re up to speed on all the current cocktail trends you can expect to see popping up on cocktail menus next year, House of Angostura spoke to three local South African industry experts about what to expert in the coming year.  

Simplification and in-house innovation 

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Overly complicated, sugar-forward cocktails have lost momentum and we will continue to see a resurgence of the classics – with modern twists. Infusions, fermentation, bitter and savoury flavours are becoming more and more popular.

Respected SA drinks writer, Leah van Deventer notes, “I’ve noticed more spicy flavours like onion, mild curries and Tonka beans, which, if done correctly, add exciting and unusual notes to cocktails. There’s also a trend towards mixing savoury and sweet.”

Denzel Heath of Mootee Bar explains that “recent years have shown an ever-increasing trend of homemade ingredients such as liqueurs and infusions”, and to this Angostura SA brand ambassador and Copper Monkey owner, George Hunter adds that “as far as drinks go, where bitters used to be a standard, it’s now becoming a more sought-after ingredient.”

New gin brands are popping up every week. Flickr


Gin saw a lot of hype in 2018 and is still a massive trend as far as popularity is concerned.

“Gin used to be seen as the older generations spirit, but the younger generations have caught on and they’ve created a massive demand for imported and locally crafted gin. However, the current generation has an alternative mindset and want radical differences to the usual gin classics”, says Hunter.

Heath adds, “The gin category is ever growing with new brands being launched every week. Hand-in-hand with every new gin brand comes a new suggested serve and a signature cocktail. The category shows no sign of serious immediate decline, so expect to see many more G&T menus and ‘gin-spired’ cocktail lists going into 2019”.


Parallel to the new wave of environmentally aware consumers the demand for conscious cocktails is growing. Most SA bars have started out small by reducing general and food waste, recycling, banning the use of plastic, using sustainable ingredients, and even reusing ingredients – sometimes adapting them into all new elements and drying out unused fruit to use as edible garnishes (a new trend in its own right).

Heath explains, “Sustainability in bars has become more of a focal point for leading bar operators – not only from an environmental perspective, but also to ensure increased profit margins.”

Low to no ABV

The world has seen a steep rise in demand for decent low-ABV (alcohol by volume) and alcohol-free serves, largely spearheaded by the younger generation. Although an older mocktail classic – the Rock Shandy – one of Angostura aromatic bitters signature serves is still the first choice in South African restaurants and country clubs.

Heath says, “responsible drinking is a global phenomenon and ‘low to no ABV’ cocktails as a category is being cemented into the world’s best cocktail menus.”


Rum-based drinks are to become the order of the day.

Van Deventer says that “internationally, strong tiki drinks are back in fashion, which goes in the entirely opposite direction of the gin and low-ABV trend, but it would be great if this trickled down to South Africa. This may well happen, as rum is definitely on the rise locally. As consumers begin to understand that rum can be as good as whisky, they’ll start demanding quality rum cocktails, made with fresh fruits, homemade syrups and tinctures and of course, good bitters.”

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