That’s all set to change, however, as cosmopolitan consumers have become hyper-aware of what they are consuming and their nutritional properties. The global battle cry against sugar is sounding loud, and while it’s taken surprisingly long for this trend to catch on in the land of cocktail drinking, it looks like a more health-conscious attitude is here to stay.
Jet-set Irish bartender and public speaker extraordinaire, Philip Duff, director of education at annual cocktail convention Tales of the Cocktail, recently coined the catchy term ‘holistic hedonism’ for the trend towards drinking with an eye on your health. It may sound like a contradiction in terms, but to smart, career-driven barflies with early morning meetings and gym sessions in mind, it’s a simple equation that adds up to damage limitation.
In response, bartenders have begun devising cocktails with hydrating ingredients which may better minimize a hangover such as coconut water or chia seeds, using cold-pressed juices instead of concentrates. They’re also turning to their colleagues in the kitchens to find new flavor combinations that appeal to peoples current tastes.
Take the bar program at Conrad Seoul which offers cold-pressed juices to customers and only uses homemade syrups to avoid artificial sweeteners or additives. “Even when ordering an alcoholic drink, people tend to be health-conscious,” says Minkyu Park, a bartender of Conrad Seoul’s 37 Grill and Bar. “They prefer those made of natural ingredients with healthy benefits.” He has even devised a menu of ‘medicinal’ cocktails. For example, the mulberries in the Mulberry Soju-Rito have properties that benefit blood circulation and purification, and the pine needles used to make the Pine Needle Soju-Rito are thought to help with nerve stability and fatigue.
Low-alcohol cocktails are also making a noticeable imprint on cocktail menus around the world, as seen with the relentless rise of the Aperol Spritz. It seems that people want to enjoy the culinary craft of cocktail construction without the messy consequences of inebriation. As Park says, speaking of his clients, “More and more Koreans enjoy the drinking culture—not just getting drunk.” And therein lies the key: this is a new cocktail culture where those in the know can have all the fun with less of the fallout.
Bartenders have begun devising drinks with hydrating ingredients like coconut water to minimize a hangover.
THE KEY INGREDIENTS
Drinking Vinegars have long been thought to have health benefits and are often used as part of a cleanse, but they’re now appearing in cocktails with bartenders using shrubs to create unique flavor combinations.
This has become a staple with the health-conscious for its higher nutrient count, creating an estimated $100 million a year market; however, spiking it with spirits adds a whole new element.
Following in the footsteps of coffee, tea-based cocktails are appearing worldwide on cocktail menus. Green tea takes center stage, but also jasmine, mint, hibiscus, licorice, and others, are being toyed with by top bartenders with endless delicate flavor possibilities.
Championed by cocktail innovator Ryan Chetiyawardana at London’s Dandelyan in Hoxton, bartenders are increasingly looking to herbs, minerals, roots and flowers as inspiration for cocktails.
Used in the right way, water-based ingredients help keep drinks light and refreshing, as well as helping to keep calorie counts down. Look out for both ever-popular coconut water and cucumber water on cocktail menus.