The rise of craft cocktails

Craft cocktails prioritise quality ingredients and fresh produce. Picture: Pexels Solodsha

Craft cocktails prioritise quality ingredients and fresh produce. Picture: Pexels Solodsha

Published Jan 16, 2024


More than any other social media platform, Instagram is changing the world of craft cocktails. At one time, only celebrity bartenders and mixologists were creating new cocktails with exotic ingredients.

But thanks to the changing power of social media, Instagram has emerged as the new place to find exciting new cocktail creations as well as important trends within the world of spirits and alcoholic beverages.

This article explores the rise of craft cocktails and the latest trends shaping the cocktail scene.

Craft cocktails’ origin can be tracked down to the 17th century. Nothing is clear about who and how it emerged, but the cocktails that we enjoy today are a product of a rich history.

According to reports the craft cocktail movement emerged as a response to the mass-produced, normalised drinks that dominated the bar scene for decades.

Craft cocktails prioritise quality ingredients, fresh produce, and expert techniques, and bartenders are embracing their role as artisans, creating unique flavour profiles by experimenting with home-made syrups, bitters, and infusions.

This focus on craftsmanship has elevated the cocktail experience and introduced a new level of creativity.

In South Africa, the artisanal cocktail movement has exploded in recent years, together with the craft gin movement. Today, there are many great spots around the country with sophisticated, carefully curated cocktail menus.

Despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, bartenders continue to find innovative ways to create and serve cocktails.

For example, the new StrangeLove Cocktail Lounge in Salt River in Cape Town is worth a visit if you are looking for these exciting cocktails.

The bar stands out for its distinctive offering of small-batch, hand-distilled vodka, gin, agave spirit, rhum agricole (rum made from sugar cane juice), and Campari-style African amaro, and its menu of curated cocktail and mini-food pairings.

The Art of Duplicity is also another roaring cocktail bar that might well be one of Cape Town’s best-kept secrets. The mixologists behind the bar whip up super cool delicious cocktails.

Once inside, expect extravagantly presented unconventional yet delectable craft cocktails created with interesting flavour profiles in mind.

Lucky Shaker in Durban is also one not to miss. They pride themselves on providing you with seasonal drinks served in fun and innovative ways to bring excitement back into your drinking experience.

Why are craft cocktails popular?

Craft cocktails are popular because of the use of quality ingredients. Craft cocktails are all about using the finest spirits and top-notch ingredients. Think of hand-squeezed juices, house-made syrups, and unique bitters.

These top-tier ingredients elevate the taste and overall experience to a whole new level. Another reason would be creativity. Craft cocktail creators are the great scientists of the drink world.

They love experimenting with unusual ingredients, infusions, and garnishes to create flavours that are out of this world. If you are an adventurous drinker, this is your playground for new and unforgettable taste adventures.

Let us look into some of the hottest cocktail trends right now.

Smoked cocktails

Smoking techniques are being used to infuse cocktails with rich, smoky flavours, adding depth and complexity to the drinking experience.

Spicy cocktails

In the last several years, there has been a shift from the traditional, more sweet cocktails towards savoury options. Spicy cocktails are an absolute hit right now.

Fancy ice cubes

Long gone are the small square ice cubes we are accustomed to, 2023 is the year that bartenders get creative with ice. From giant cubes to speciality shapes, to herb or fruit-infused beauties, they are upping the game.