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Boston Bartenders Discuss the Weirdest Current Cocktail Trends

After sharing their thoughts on overrated and underrated cocktail ingredients, local bartenders reveal which current cocktail trends are the "weirdest," for better or worse. Cocktail Week 2015 continues.

Shutterstock/Jeff Wasserman



Angela Lamb

"One of the weirdest cocktail trends that I never got into was using shrubs. They can be cool, and I've definitely had tasty cocktails with it, but not my thing. Too much funk; hard to balance out." —Angela Lamb, bar manager at Coda Bar & Kitchen

Image credit: Provided



Fred Yarm

"Overcomplicated culinary-driven cocktails. Often, they feel forced; other times, it is clear that they have studied The Flavor Bible and kept things focused." —Fred Yarm, bar manager at Loyal Nine

Image credit: Provided



Nicholas Mansur

"There’s a lot of crazy garnishing going on. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s funny to me." Nicholas Mansur, bar manager at Shepard

Image credit: Emily Phares for Eater



Naomi Levy

"You know what I’ve never really liked — and this has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a vegetarian — is meat cocktails. Like the bacon whatever. I don’t get it. As much as I work very culinarily, I just feel like your drink should ultimately still be something that you drink." Naomi Levy, bar manager at Eastern Standard

Image credit: Lisa Richov for Eastern Standard



Nino Nunziante

"'Skinny'-made cocktails. Simply said, dieting and drinking booze do not go together. Just enjoy a great drink as is; don't ask me to make you a bad one." Nino Nunziante, bartender at Tico

Image credit: Provided



Kayla Quigley

"Clarified beverages. Some bars are focusing on designing cocktails that are clear." —Kayla Quigley, bartender at Sweet Cheeks

Image credit: Provided



Tyler Wang

"Aging things that don’t need to be aged. Like I know there’s a vodka company coming out with an aged vodka. And that’s weird to me." Tyler Wang, bar manager at Audubon

Image credit: Emily Phares for Eater



Will Thompson

"Obsession with drink production. I think the idea that your night would revolve around the act of someone making you a drink is a really weird one, and while I understand that there's a way to produce drinks that can be fun and engaging for guests, I do think we've taken it a little too far." Will Thompson, beverage director at Yvonne's

Image credit: Provided



Emmet Kelty

"I think the strangest cocktail trend is the 'renaissance' of sherry. I've tried quite a few cocktails (and played with some of my own ideas) where the oxidized taste of the sherry used really doesn't translate well. I love certain types of sherry, but I don't think we, the public, are ready for this trend." —Emmet Kelty, bar manager at 51 Lincoln

Image credit: Provided



Thea Engst

"I think it's fun that people are bringing back drinks like Zombies and Grasshoppers. Those drinks are a bit sweet for me, but they're fun and pretty!" Thea Engst, bar manager at River Bar

Image credit: Provided



Todd Lipman

"Not sure it’s a trend, but I recently saw an orange peel cut in the shape of legs…sexy citrus, the next big thing!" —Todd Lipman, head sommelier at Bistro du Midi

Image credit: Provided



Michelle Raye

"The weirdest current cocktail trend I think are flavored vodkas like whipped cream or Swedish fish. I'm all for infusing liquor with fresh ingredients, but that's the key — it must be fresh, otherwise there's too much added sugar!" —Michelle Raye, general manager of Vida Cantina in Portsmouth, NH

Image credit: Provided



Shawn Westhoven

"When it comes to bartenders...mustaches (maybe suspenders)." —Shawn Westhoven, beverage director of Papa Razzi Trattoria and Papa Razzi Metro

Image credit: Provided



Joe Fisketti

"I'm all for the weird, so this one's tough for me. The most offensive and I guess 'weirdest' trend — that I hope has started to leave over the years — is the idea of 'mixologists' or a smug bartender. Making the guest feel comfortable, welcomed, and excited when choosing a cocktail should be a huge priority for any bartender. Pretentiousness should have no place in a cocktail program." —Joe Fisketti, beverage manager at Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar

Image credit: Provided



Aquitaine cocktail

"The overly elaborate garnish. Where is the cocktail?" —Ludgie Beauvais, bartender at Aquitaine Boston

Image credit: Provided



Dave Miller

"Tiki bars. Everyone loves a good tiki drink every now and again, but I’m not sure if a tiki bar in places that are covered in snow for half of the year is a sustainable concept." Dave Miller, lead bartender at Clink and The Liberty Bar in The Liberty Hotel

Image credit: Provided



Gabriela Garcia

"I will say the new wave of the old fashioned cocktail. There are a lot of places that are serving the classic version, and people who are used to this are taken aback by the new twists. The new trend is to make this drink with no ice or the ice ball; some muddle the fruit, while others don’t. Usually the drink is made with bourbon, but now you can find an old fashioned made with tequila as well. When you go to new places, the bartenders can introduce you to something that is definitely out of the box." —Gabriela Garcia, bar manager at Taj Boston

Image credit: Provided



Michael Boughton - BNV

"If by weird you mean unique, the current trend that comes to mind is molecular mixology (cocktail caviar, powdered cocktails, etc.)" —Michael Boughton, corporate beverage director of Boston Nightlife Ventures

Image credit: Provided



Kaylee Platt

"Hybrid mix-up of spirits, i.e. Grey Goose VX (cognac and vodka) and Jinzu (gin and sake)." Kaylee Platt, manager of City Bar Westin

Image credit: Provided



Dagan Migirditch

"Milk washing. Curdling to clarify? Who knew something that looks so totally gross could yield something so pretty and pristine?" —Dagan Migirditch, general manager of Franklin Oyster House in Portsmouth, NH

Image credit: Provided



Kevin Khem

"Adding flavored spirits to seasonal beer. Example: Adding vanilla vodka to pumpkin beer to create a pumpkin pie. I feel it takes away from the full experience of enjoying the seasonal beer the way brew masters intended for." —Kevin Khem, restaurant manager at ArtBar at the Royal Sonesta

Image credit: Provided



Wolfertz horizontal

"I'm all for a good tiki-inspired drink, but I started to notice the trend last winter — I just thought it was an odd time of year." —Owen Wolfertz, general manager at Moxy in Portsmouth, NH

Image credit: Provided



Rob Hoover - La Brasa

"Foams." —Rob Hoover, bar manager at La Brasa

Image credit: Provided



Sean Barney

"The weirdest cocktail trend is too many ingredients. I feel like at a lot of bars they don't feel like it's a true cocktail unless they've put 10 ingredients into it. This makes all the drinks on the menu taste relatively the same. If you're going to make a gin drink, one should be able to taste the gin. Use the other stuff to work with the gin, not mask it. Usually, this is achieved by keeping the other ingredients to a minimum." —Sean Barney, bar manager and cocktail chef at il Casale Lexington, as well as cocktail chef for il Casale Belmont and restaurant Dante

Image credit: Provided



Chris O'Neill

"Vodka infused with cognac. That's called a cocktail!" Chris O’Neill, bartender at Deuxave

Image credit: Provided



Vincent Conte

"Blue cheese-stuffed olives. Gross!" Vincent Conte, lead bartender at Posto

Image credit: Provided



Rob Ficks

"Root vegetables in cocktails, like turnips or parsnips." —Rob Ficks, lead bartender at Craigie on Main

Image credit: Provided



Peter Szigeti

"The kitchen and bar are moving closer and closer to each other. Solid cocktails; spices and herbs appear in drinks with funky weird garnishes, like truffles." —Peter Szigeti, beverage director at Committee

Image credit: Provided



Kerem Benyamini

"I am seeing more and more vegetables in cocktails. If I want an avocado, I will order a salad, not a cocktail." —Kerem Benyamini, general manager at Rowes Wharf Sea Grille and Rowes Wharf Bar at the Boston Harbor Hotel

Image credit: Provided



Mike Thomas 2

"Bacon in everything. I love bacon, but I don’t need it in a cocktail." —Mike Thomas, bar manager at Gather in District Hall

Image credit: Provided



Lindolfo Silva

"Molecular mixology." —Lindolfo Silva, lead bartender at The Painted Burro

Image credit: Provided



Davide Crusoe

"It seems to be we are now smoking things: salt, ice, liquor. Love it, but if you think about it, little strange..." Davide Crusoe, beverage director at Chopps American Bar and Grill in Burlington

Image credit: Provided



Eric Cross

"The weirdest trend is probably how much television shows influence drink choices for certain groups." Eric Cross, beverage director at Five Horses South End

Image credit: Provided



Joe Cammarata

"Green juices and 'super foods.' They can be super tasty and interesting or over-the-top strange." —Joe Cammarata, co-bar manager at Hojoko

Image credit: Kristin Teig for Hojoko



Daren Swisher

"Matcha tea cocktails." —Daren Swisher, co-bar manager at Hojoko

Image credit: Averil Lowry for Hojoko



Jarek Mountain

"Ridiculous mustaches." —Jarek Mountain, bartender at Back Bay Harry's

Image credit: Provided



Dave Spielberg

"The weirdest current cocktail trend is cocktails containing all sorts of savory ingredients. Pepper, cilantro, parsnips are all popping up on cocktail lists around the city. I find it really great, though, that these types of herbs and vegetables are being used, giving drinks an added element of freshness." Dave Spielberg, bartender at The Salty Pig

Image credit: Provided



Tim Kotkowski

"Honestly, I don't dislike any of the 'weird' trends happening right now. Cocktails are supposed to be fun, so I say the weirder the better!" Timothy Kotkowski, Pastoral

Image credit: Provided



Jared Sadoian

"The infatuation with pumpkin-spice-everything has started to leak into the cocktail world..." —Jared Sadoian, bar manager at The Hawthorne

Image credit: Provided



Chuck Guterl

"The five-minute wait for a crafted cocktail." Chuck Guterl, beverage manager at Scampo

Image credit: Provided



Justin Lipata

"The weirdest trend that I've seen recently is the 'milk punch' drink. Not so much weird as it is unique to see on a cocktail list." Justin Lipata, bar manager at Bukowski Tavern (Cambridge)

Image credit: Provided



Patrick Foley

"No offense to two of our best-sellers, but I don't want a spicy cocktail unless we're talking bloody mary!" Patrick Foley, bar manager at The Independent

Image credit: Provided



Patrick Sullivan

"80's drinks." Patrick Sullivan, executive director of bar operations for the Legal Sea Foods brands

Image credit: Provided



Paulo Pereira

"I just created a cocktail using vodka that's been fat-washed with pecorino cheese at Brass Union. I'd say that's pretty weird..." Paulo Pereira, beverage director at Brass Union

Image credit: Provided



Schuyler Hunton

"The trend of molecular mixology. It's the use of chemistry to modify cocktails in 'exciting' ways. It was kind of just a ‘flash in the pan’ trend though." Schuyler Hunton, beverage director at Foundry on Elm & Saloon

Image credit: Natasha Moustache



Casey Furtaw

"Beer-based cocktails." Casey Furtaw, head bartender at Osteria Nino in Burlington

Image credit: Provided



Vikram Hegde

"Something I’m completely guilty of, but I find it so odd that sherry has become the darling ingredient with higher-end cocktail bars. It’s like a Frasier marathon every time I look at a cocktail menu these days." Vikram Hegde, general manager at Island Creek Oyster Bar

Image credit: Provided



Freidus

"The weirdest cocktail trend to me is bottled cocktails. I don't want to go out to a bar that makes great cocktails just to pop a top and pour it in a glass — I love beer, and there's plenty of beer for that. If I go out for cocktails, I want to watch the bartender bartend. Also, I think one of the weirder trends that’s really blowing up is a lot of liquor slushy machines, like cocktail slushy machines. But it’s not weird in a bad way. It’s a positive thing; I think that's really cool." Seth Freidus, bar manager at Alden & Harlow

Image credit: Emily Phares for Eater



Todd Maul Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

"My first answer would be false modesty." Todd Maul, bar director and partner at Cafe Artscience

Image credit: Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater



Ryan McGrale

"Cocktails on tap." Ryan McGrale, beverage director at Tavern Road

Image credit: Provided



Kyle Powell

"I’ve noticed more people embracing vermouth and fortified wines. I think it’s great! It’s just weird to hear guests asking for a 50/50 martini when just a short time ago setting the bottle next to the glass was too much vermouth." Kyle Powell, bar manger of State Street Provisions (opening in November 2015)

Image credit: Provided



Tainah Soares

"Sous vide cocktails." Tainah Soares, bartender at Trina’s Starlite Lounge

Image credit: Provided



Kyle Powell

"I’ve noticed more people embracing vermouth and fortified wines. I think it’s great! It’s just weird to hear guests asking for a 50/50 martini when just a short time ago setting the bottle next to the glass was too much vermouth." Kyle Powell, bar manger of State Street Provisions (opening in November 2015)

Image credit: Provided



Adam Avelar

"The interest of Jagermeister in cocktails. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but considering its reputation as a spirit for college parties, it's surprising to see it become more commonly used in an artisanal manner." Adam Avelar, bar manager at The Sinclair

Image credit: Provided



"All the flavored vodkas." Erin Mahoney, bar director at Row 34 (Portsmouth)



"Vaporized cocktails. A bar opened recently in London that offers two different cocktail experiences, 'conventional drinking' and literally breathing in your cocktail. I’m curious where this one will land in craft cocktail culture, as it completely changes the game in terms of flavors and delivery." Yuri Bredbeck, beverage director at Tres Gatos



"Overly cerebral cocktails that may not even taste good but are so complex and interesting in concept that they're interesting on that level — but sometimes people push that a little too far with overly ornate garnishes for no reason. There is a time and place for really overly ornate garnishes, and I love it when it's at that time, but Cheesecake Factory does not need overly ornate garnishes." Adam Lantheaume, owner of The Boston Shaker

Scampo at The Liberty Hotel

215 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114 857 241 1150 Visit Website

Il Casale Cucina Campana + Bar

1727 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA 02420 (781) 538-5846 Visit Website

Pastoral

345 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210 617 345 0005 Visit Website

State Street Provisions

255 State St., Boston, MA 02109

The Liberty Hotel

215 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114 (617) 224-4000 Visit Website

Bistro du Midi

272 Boylston Street, , MA 02116 (617) 426-7878 Visit Website

Deuxave

371 Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02115 (617) 517-5915 Visit Website

Alden & Harlow

40 Brattle Street, , MA 02138 (617) 864-2100 Visit Website

Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar

381 Summer Street, , MA 02144 (617) 629-9500 Visit Website

Sweet Cheeks

1381 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215 617 266 1300 Visit Website

Tres Gatos

470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts 02130 617 477 4851 Visit Website

Tavern Road

343 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210 617 790 0808

La Brasa

124 Broadway, , MA 02145 (617) 764-1412 Visit Website

ArtBar

40 Edwin H Land Boulevard, , MA 02142 (617) 806-4200 Visit Website

Aquitaine

569 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02118 (617) 424-8577 Visit Website

Boston Harbor Hotel

70 Rowes Wharf, , MA 02110 (617) 439-7000 Visit Website

The Painted Burro

219 Elm Street, , MA 02144 (617) 776-0005 Visit Website

Posto (Somerville)

187 Elm St., Somerville, MA 02140 Visit Website

Tico

1926 14th Street Northwest, , DC 20009 (202) 319-1400 Visit Website

51 Lincoln

51 Lincoln St, Newton Highlands, MA 02461

Osteria Nino

19 3rd Ave, Burlington, MA 01803 (781) 272-1600

Taj Boston

15 Arlington Street, , MA 02116 (617) 536-5700 Visit Website

Loyal Nine

660 Cambridge Street, , MA 02141 (617) 945-2576 Visit Website

Eastern Standard

528 Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02215 (617) 532-9100 Visit Website

The Salty Pig

130 Dartmouth Street, , MA 02116 (617) 536-6200 Visit Website

Craigie On Main

853 Main Street, , MA 02139 (617) 497-5511 Visit Website

Hojoko

1271 Boylston Street, , MA 02215 (617) 670-0507 Visit Website

Gather

75 Northern Avenue, , MA 02210 (617) 982-7220 Visit Website

Saloon

255 Elm Street, , MA 02144 (617) 628-4444 Visit Website

City Bar

65 Exeter Street, Boston, MA 02116-3505 617-933-4801 Visit Website

Back Bay Harry's

142 Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02116 (617) 424-6711 Visit Website

Committee

50 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02110 Visit Website

Shepard

1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Papa Razzi

159 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02116 (617) 536-9200 Visit Website

Five Horses Tavern

400 Highland Avenue, , MA 02144 (617) 764-1655 Visit Website

Yvonne's

3 Winter Pl., Boston, MA 02108 Visit Website

Audubon

838 Beacon Street, , MA 02215 (617) 421-1910 Visit Website

Island Creek Oyster Bar

500 Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02215 (617) 532-5300 Visit Website

Brass Union

70 Union Square, , MA 02143 (617) 623-9211 Visit Website

The Independent

75 Union Square, , MA 02143 (617) 440-6022 Visit Website

The Hawthorne

500A Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02215 (617) 532-9150 Visit Website

Coda

329 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA 02116 617-536-2632 Visit Website

Cafe ArtScience

650 East Kendall Street, , MA 02142 (857) 999-2193 Visit Website

Bukowski Tavern (Inman Square)

1281 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 497-7077 Visit Website

River Bar

661 Assembly Row, , MA 02145 (617) 616-5561 Visit Website

The Sinclair

52 Church Street, , MA 02138 (617) 547-5200 Visit Website

Row 34

300 District Avenue, , MA 01803 (781) 761-6500 Visit Website

Trina's Starlite Lounge

3 Beacon Street, , MA 02143 (617) 576-0006 Visit Website

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