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Raising The Bar: This Year’s Cocktail Trends

While the pandemic certainly wasn’t good for Americans’ livers, it was a boon for the spirits industry. But the American public has a way of righting itself after a long, collective binge, according to the cocktail trends we’re watching in 2022. At Messina’s Catering & Events, the bar has always been a focal point of any catered event, but in the next few years, we’ll see it morph into something that’s both traditional and new age all at the same time.

A Toast to Specialty Bars

Specialty bars can vary from inventive signature drinks, mix-your-own displays, and flair bartending, where the drink preparation is a performance in and of itself. Spirit tastings can be combined into various specialty drinks and presentations. Brand your cocktails using edible-ink printing on foam and cattle-branded garnishes. Another popular specialty bar option is a cocktail-making station where your guests can make their own libations. The options are endless.

The Craft Cocktail Craze

It’s not surprising that New Orleans is riding the wave of the craft cocktail craze. After all, Creole apothecary Antoine Peychaud invented New Orleans’ famous Sazerac at his shop at 437 Royal Street. Beyond just the Sazerac, the thirst for craft cocktails is seemingly unquenchable. Craft cocktails are definitely having a moment, from local bars to storied hotel lobbies and catering menus. With fresh, unique flavor combinations, these rare spirits created a firestorm in the catering industry and are a simply delicious and unexpected twist on any New Orleans catering menu. (Adipex)

Goodbye Binge…. Hello Control

According to Bacardi’s Cocktail Trends Report, the future of the cocktail (at least in the short term) is low- and no alcohol. In that report, they noted that 58 percent of consumers globally were drinking more low Alcohol-By-Volume (or ABV) drinks than ever before. In 2020, mixologists like Italy’s Simone Caporale launched Zeo, a non-alcoholic spirit that mimics the texture and flavor of alcohol without the ensuing buzz. Other brands like Seedlip, Lyre, and ArKay Rum are marketed to an emerging and growing audience of “sober-curious” adults and are featured more frequently by wedding caterers where everyone in the wedding party can imbibe in inventive concoctions.

Likewise, hard seltzers, ciders, wine spritzes, and even CBD-infused drinks are top choices for many Americans due to their low alcohol (or no alcohol) content, refreshing flavor, and are perfect for the light or non-drinker. The low-sugar nature of drinks such as kombucha, water kefir, and hard coffee are also driving this trend to healthier drink options. In short, many people are drinking less in quantity but better in quality. ( Curated mocktails are certainly having a moment as well.

craft cocktails

Tequila is Having a Moment

According to Martha Stewart, tequila is the new vodka. In fact, according to the Drizly alcohol delivery platform, 80 percent of retailers stocked more tequila in 2022 and plan on doing the same in 2023. Now tequila has come of age. Time was, tequila was most often consumed in a margarita, which dulled the taste and sting on the tongue. Today’s tequila consumer wants precisely that–the heat and the experience of savoring a fine anejo or reposado tequila that’s meant to be sipped neat or a blanco tequila that can be mixed with a splash of club soda and a squeeze of lime.

Retro Cool

Retro cocktails are also making their way back onto bar offerings at catered events. Lately, the traditional martini has enjoyed a slight facelift in the form of cosmos or espresso martinis. Exotic rum drinks are a favorite way to transport to a more carefree time. Think mai tais, rum barrels, zombies, and painkillers–famed tiki drink recipes that pack a definite punch and are served in tiki mugs and often adorned with fresh orchids and bamboo straws. Other nostalgic cocktails include old-fashioneds, vodka or gin tonics, Cuba Libres, and the ever-popular bloody Mary.

retro cocktail old fashioned

Food Pairings are Becoming More Common on the Catering Menu

At many events over the last year, we saw a rise in food and drink pairings, which is a great way to elevate the flavors of both. Indeed, drinks have always been served alongside catered dishes. Still, in the case of food and drink pairings, the bartender and chef work together to ignite those dishes with the right combination of flavors, textures, and even aromas to work in harmony with one another. Of course, mimosas are ideal for bunch menus, but did you know that champagne pairs exceptionally well with fresh-shucked oysters? A hearty mac and cheese are even more comforting when paired with a refreshing pale ale. Another delightful pairing is candied bacon and bourbon shots.

wine pairing

Drinkable Desserts

A whole other category of cocktails, called dessert drinks, are rich and creamy and designed for slow sipping after dinner. It used to be that when you mentioned dessert drinks, most people thought of liqueurs, sherry, brandy, dessert wine, or coffee. The trend is boozy dessert drinks and shakes as consumer tastes continue to expand and diversify.

What’s Your Pleasure

At Messina’s Catering & Events, we can help you plan the ideal drink combinations and catering menu items that are sure to please all the guests on your list, just as we’ve been doing for more than six decades. To learn more, visit to learn more.

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