The 25 Cocktails Poised for a Comeback in 2022
We asked a few dozen bartenders on their choice of 2022’s comeback cocktail
But for whatever reasons, some drinks from times prior to the mixology boom (an era we’ll call the mid-2000s until now) are creeping back into our consciousness. Example: We recently enjoyed a Grasshopper at NYC’s new Dingaling bar and felt zero shame.
Is the lack of pretension a reason for these drinks making a return? Nostalgia for a simpler time? Or did we realize that there were some pretty good drinks out there that got unfairly overshadowed by ambitious mixology menus?
Maybe it’s part of a larger societal trend. “Similar to the home bartending surges of the ‘50s and ‘70s, we are coming out of a time of social discord and economic privation. This tends to force trends of easily recreated ingredients based on universal crowd pleasers,” suggests Megan Coyle, a bar industry vet and current PR pro. (Her comeback cocktail thoughts? “I think complex syrups and exotic fruit juices added to variations on standard cocktails will be de rigueur, especially for the home bartender.”)
“The focus in the restaurant world in 2022 seems to be on simplicity,” adds Anthony Caporale, Director of Spirits Education at the Institute of Culinary Education. “As the costs of both products and labor continue to rise, bars and restaurants are moving toward smaller menus, simpler dishes and quicker prep times. And consumers also seem to be growing weary of overly complicated presentations and longer waits for service.”
With all that in mind, we asked a few dozen bartenders and drinks pros what they think is the next comeback drink — and note, very few of these are embarrassing! Many of these are recognizable drinks that seemed primed for a bigger and better return.
But also: The Pink Squirrel.
“Tiki-themed cocktails such as Piña Colada and Painkiller will make a comeback. Pineapple and coconut are trending non-alcoholic beverage ingredients/flavors with an emphasis on their healthy properties. Travel is still limited and with winter coming, people want to escape to the tropics.” — Amy Marks-McGee, flavor and fragrance trend consultant of Trendincite LLC
“We are starting to add Japanese highballs to our menus. While I think there are some dietary influences at play, the guest is looking at lighter-bodied, effervescent cocktails.” — Jason Kosmas, Beverage Director for Hai Hospitality (Uchi, Loro) and co-author of the book Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Cocktails Reimagined
“I think historical iterations of gin, such as Genever, are gaining popularity as people become more interested in the history of beverages. Genever, a distilled malted spirit that tastes like a mix between gin and whiskey, is what led to the discovery of gin. Its versatility in cocktails attracts a variety of light and dark spirits lovers.” – Corey Moszer, Beverage Director of The Lucky Accomplice
“Both tequila and especially mezcal are really surging right now. We’re seeing a lot of tourists order fruity and spicy variations of the margarita.” — Michael Manjon, Beverage Manager of Time Out Market New York
“I see comeback potential for Screwdrivers made with premium vodka and fresh-squeezed orange juice, Salty Dogs that use craft salts and also fresh juice and Cuba Libres featuring local rums mixed with house-made cola. Quick to make, accessible flavors, lower in alcohol and potentially less expensive seems like a winning combination.” — Anthony Caporale, Director of Spirits Education at the Institute of Culinary Education
“Frozen blended cocktails may see a resurgence as a year-round drink in 2022 as lawmakers continue to loosen restrictions on cocktails leaving restaurant premises, given they’re so easy to make in batches and send out the door.” — Trevor Leppek, Owner and Director of Beverages at Pignic Pub + Patio
“The Corpse Reviver #2 — it’s a cocktail composed of gin, Lillet, lemon juice, Cointreau and absinthe. The cocktail is a bright, refreshing and tart cocktail often consumed in the morning as a little hair of the dog.” — Jordan Moton, bartender at Post House
“I expect to see a comeback in Prohibition-Era cocktails, specifically that of the Last Word. A perfect ratio of equal parts gin, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice creates a balanced cocktail that is easily changeable into other variations such as replacing the gin with mezcal or the lime with grapefruit.” — Billy Rockefeller, bartender at The Longboard
“The Big Lebowski was responsible for the first surge of White Russian popularity years ago. Perhaps this time around we can just contribute the resurgence to the fact that it’s delicious.” — Brooks Reitz and Taylor Huber, founders of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.
“The vodka martini, which is in no way connected to the Espresso Martini, which is hardly a martini. I am talking about a Roger Sterling Martini: vodka, dry Vermouth and olives.” — Dylan Melvin, Director of Adult Beverage for Foxtrot
“With a thirst for nostalgia lying around every bend, it is only a matter of time before the Pink Squirrel finds its way back into the cocktail canon. With measures of ice cream matched with chocolate and almond liqueurs, it is a 1950s throwback destined to be reborn.” — Samson Kohanski, General Manager of Park & Grove
“Gin martinis. We’re seeing a renewed interest in people looking for simple, well-crafted, spirit-forward cocktails, and a gin martini is a great example of this. People are also paying attention to technique, and technique is what differentiates a great gin martini from the rest.” — Kevin Beary, Beverage Director of The Bamboo Room and Three Dots and a Dash
“Equal parts full-bodied red wine and Coca-Cola are combined to make a Kalimotxo, a drink that originated in Spain in the ’70s and has slowly started appearing on more American menus as a younger generation of drinkers searches for tasty cocktails with lower alcohol content.” — Carla Ruben, President and Creative Director, Creative Edge Parties
“Violet-flavored spirits were most popular in the ‘40s-’60s. The actual cocktails that used them were beautiful and had a very mid-century couture vibe, but they were so simple that they fit 2022 as well. Disney World actually has their own Creme de Violette cocktail called the Lavender Fog at their Enchanted Rose Bar. It looks incredible.” — Iden Eliopoulos, Managing Editor at Cocktail.com
“I’d put my money on the French Martini for 2022. I’ve had more requests for those in the last few months than in all of 20 years prior.” — Naomi Schimek, Bar Director at Soulmate
“The Sherry Cobbler hits a few trending marks: it has a low ABV, uses seasonal produce and is made using the driest wines known to man (fino sherry).” — Drew Hairston, Beverage Director at Maydan
“My bold prediction: Sex on the Beach is posed for a comeback. We have higher quality products available now to rehash what used to just be a vodka sugar bomb.” — Andy Printy, Bar Manager at Juniper
“I’ve noticed a stir rising about the Amaretto Sour. It’s full of nostalgia and feels a little fancy when many of us are looking for that. It’s also a little milder on the ABV front than the espresso martini.” — Jason Sherman, founder of TapRm
“Guests are craving the vintage aesthetics right now and nothing says history like the Sidecar. There are modern twists that are sparking new interest in the drink, such as changing out the traditional cognac with bourbon and adding some unique flavors or fresh fruit.” — Alexandro Del Bosque Garcia, General Manager at Ball & Chain
“I see reimagined ‘90s cocktails making a comeback, specifically the Midori Sour and Midori as a cocktail ingredient.” — Ramsey Musk Bar Manager at Guerilla Taco
“The 50/50 martini — equal parts gin and vermouth. With the recent popularity of a wide variety of small production vermouths and diverse esoteric gins, there are now endless 50/50 pairings that make this classic version an intriguing ‘new’ option.” — Chelsea DeMark, Beverage Director at Bar Julian
“People are craving strong but simple flavors when it comes to cocktails, for which absinthe fits the bill. The cocktail I see being popular in the new year is Death in the Afternoon, which is simply 1 oz of absinthe, a dash of simple syrup and 4 oz of Champagne.” — Brian Nagele, CEO of Restaurant Clicks
“The Whisky Smash. This drink is approachable to novice whisky drinkers; it’s the mojito of whisky cocktails, with its refreshing citrus and sweet flavor.” — Victor Gallardo, Mixologist at Society Cafe
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