As the weather gets cooler and outdoor dining continues, it’s time to step up your cocktail game. Plus, there’s no better time than the new year to get new fresh cocktails on your menu.

This winter for the restaurant industry has been unlike any other due to the pandemic. Outdoor dining, even in the winter, is here to stay. And with that, there’s a need for cocktails to ward off the chill. 

In this article, we will go over the latest cocktail trends starting us off in 2021 and highlight five cocktails that will keep your guests warm in the winter.  

2021 Cocktail Trends for Restaurants

Here are the top three drink trends we expect to see more of this year:

Rise of At-Home & To-Go Cocktails

Due to the pandemic, many states are legalizing to-go cocktails for good. These are a lifeline for many struggling restaurants and help add an extra revenue stream. 

With this rise of to-go cocktails, there’s also a new appeal for batched and canned drinks. We expect to see more restaurants selling cocktail mixers between more people staying at home and bartenders seeking to can their creations. 

Take Sonny’s Tavern, for example. They have created cocktail kits where guests can add their own alcohol at home. Each is pre-batched with the precise amount of ingredients to make 4-8 drinks. 

Mocktails & Cleaner Cocktails

With the rise in alcohol consumption consciousness, consumers want drinks with low-to-no alcohol, such as kombucha and craft mocktails. According to Kimpton’s 2021 Culinary & Cocktail Trends Forecast, guests wish to have cleaner cocktails featuring simple, fresh ingredients like lemon, ginger, green tea, and honey.

Coffee Outside of the Mug

Several trendologist are seeing an extension of coffee use that goes beyond the mug. For restaurants, this is an opportunity to tap into more coffee-flavored cocktails and spirits. Expect to see espresso martinis and Irish coffees dominate cocktail menus this year. The hot cocktail craze also fuels the rise in coffee-based drinks for outdoor dining in the winter. 

5 Warming Winter Cocktails

Here are five cocktails that will help keep your guests warm in the winter:

Blue Blazer

The one and only cocktail pioneer, Jerry Thomas, created the Blue Blazer. He describes it as a “blazing stream of liquid fire” in his 1862 “Bar-tenders Guide.” It’s a hot twist, with actual fire, on the classic Hot Toddy cocktail. The Blue Blazer has cask-strength scotch, so it packs a big punch. 

It’s important to keep a fire extinguisher on hand for this cocktail. Once you combine sugar, scotch, and boiling water, this will be lit on fire. After, carefully pour the liquid back and forth five times between two mugs. 

Get the full recipe here.

Spiced Pear Negroni

One of the most elegant cocktails you can offer this season is a Spiced Pear Negroni. This drink, in particular from Craft Gin Club, was inspired by the Negroni Sbagliato. The spiced pear negroni uses season pear cider in replacement on prosecco. It lightens up nicely with white vermouth and winter spices. 

It is recommended for this cocktail to use a cider’s dryer style, as the spices will add sweetness. You can find the full recipe here. 

Check out our customer, The Arch Society, and their spiced pear negroni. It’s garnished to perfection. 

Coffee & Cigarettes

Gin isn’t a spirit that only has to be enjoyed in the summer. It has notes of pine, lemon, roots, and warming spices perfect for the winter months. 

The next winter cocktail is a caffeinated, coffee-laced take on a Gin & Tonic. It’s called ‘Coffee & Cigarettes’, created by Alan Berger of Denver’s Ultreia. This drink uses a Colorado gin with notes of cardamom and cinnamon and a coffee liqueur. It’s going to be smoky, herbal, sweet, and warm, all at once. 

Here are the ingredients & steps for creating this cocktail from Liquor.com:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces The Block Autumn Gin
  • 1 ounce The Block coffee liqueur
  • 5 ounces Q tonic water
  • Garnish: coffee beans & cocoa nibs

Steps

  1. Combine gin and coffee liqueur into wine glass over ice
  2. Top with tonic water and stir gently
  3. Garnish with 4 coffee beans and 1/4 tsp cocoa nibs

Winter Charm

Another hot cocktail to keep your guests warm this season is the Winter Charm. The Winter Charm cocktail is an excellent balance between spiced and tropical flavors. It all comes together with BACARDÍ Black Rum and a nice malty finish with Barley Syrup. 

Here are the ingredients from Liquor.com

  • 2 oz BACARDÍ Carta Negra (black) rum
  • 1 oz Barley syrup
  • 1 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1 bar spoon St. Elizabeth allspice dram
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Garnish: Star anise & dehydrated pineapple slice 

This cocktail is straightforward to prepare; you add all the ingredients to a pot and bring it to a boil. Once it’s ready, you can serve it a coffee mug and garnish. Nothing will be more enjoyable to sip on outside by a fire or heater than the Winter Charm Cocktail. 

Pisco Sour

The mid-winter blues call for a Pisco Sour. A fun fact is that National Pisco Sour Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of February. It was first celebrated in Peru in 2003 and has continued ever since. Mark your calendars!

The Pisco Sour is sweet and tart and holds great fragrance as bitters sit on the top. It’s refreshing and is a nice pick-me-up throughout these cold crazy months.

Check out the ingredients and more backstory on the pisco drink here. 

Our customer, Amaro’s Table, is a craft cocktail bar, and they’ve created a beautiful Pisco Sour.

Raise the bar

Use the trends & cocktails in this blog post to set up your restaurant for success as we head into the new year. Give your bartenders an extra boost with CAKE — check out our Bar POS System. Created with bartenders in mind to help you save time, increase efficiency, and simplify your operations. Cheers!