During the colder parts of the year, people tend to gravitate toward the comfortable and nostalgic when it comes to drinks — they want the eggnogs, the ciders, the red wines. But when it comes to summer? All bets are off. It’s a time for experimentation and fun; there’s a palpable excitement for the new, the refreshing, and the unexpected. And summer 2022’s biggest cocktail trends confirm that.
Of course, that’s not to say that people aren’t reaching for their usual fruity drinks and coconut-focused beverages. They still are, and there’s no shame in that at all: They’re tried-true-flavors that will likely never fall out of favor when the weather’s sweltering and the mood is light. But alongside the classics this year, some surprising cocktail trends have also emerged to shake things up.
What those don’t entail? According to Chris Chernock, campus-wide bar director for The Music Center, expect to see fewer frozen drinks on menus. “The equipment needed can be a hassle, final results can be inconsistent, and it can often be time consuming if you don’t have a functional slushie machine or proper equipment,” he tells TZR. “Don’t get me wrong, some people are absolutely doing it right and have some unique options but the frozé trend is unfortunately (or fortunately) over.”
As for what you are about to see a lot of? Find Chernock and more experts’ predictions for the hottest (or, well, coldest) cocktail trends this summer, ahead.
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CEO and founder of Cocktail Academy, Matt Landes, calls out the mass of ready-to-drink beverages (RTDs) hitting the market in recent years, with brands like White Claw and Truly exploding onto the scene. This year, he says, RTDs are going to become “an even bigger summertime juggernaut, with seltzers like Happy Hour and CÎROC’s Vodka Spritz taking the trend to new heights.”
He’s not the only one who thinks this. According to a recent Instacart report, canned cocktails are officially the drink of the summer. “With summertime travel reaching new heights this year, whether folks are adventuring far from home or gathering in a loved one’s backyard, we believe convenience, price point, and new, buzzy options will be key factors when deciding which beverages to purchase,” read a quote from Laurentia Romaniuk, Instacart’s Trends Expert, in the post. “The number of canned cocktail options available on the Instacart platform has increased by more than 60 percent from summer 2020 to summer 2021, showing just how enthusiastic consumers are about this particularly easy and breezy summer bevvie option.”
Try The Trend With: Our Favorite RTDs
In terms of ingredients, there’s one that’s showing up over and over again this season. “Hibiscus is everywhere these days — it's the perfect way to brighten up a summer cocktail!” says Laura Price, Beverage Ambassador, Cutwater Spirits Tasting Room & Kitchen. (In fact, the brand has a Hibiscus Vodka of its own.) According to David Sikora, Crystal Head Vodka's brand ambassador, there are a few reasons for this flavor’s popularity.
“The hibiscus flower is much more versatile than one might think,” he tells TZR. “There are hundreds of different species and they each have a slightly different color, taste, look, and feel. Hibiscus can be sweet, tart, or tropical and can come in red, pink, peach, orange and white.” Plus, he continues, it pairs well with lime and other juices, so it’s perfect for mixing without being overpowering.
Try The Trend With: Hibiscus Basil Lemonade
- 2 ounces Crystal Head Aurora Vodka
- 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1 ounce hibiscus syrup
- 3-4 basil leaves
- club soda
Method: Add Crystal Head Aurora, fresh lemon juice, hibiscus syrup, and basil leaves to a cocktail shaker and gently muddle. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a Collins glass with ice and top with soda. Garnish with a dehydrated lemon wheel and basil leaves.
According to Chernock, low-ABV cocktails are an extremely popular choice in the summer. Because day drinking is common during the season and the weather is hotter, something that’s light and refreshing with lower alcohol (like a spritz) allows people to stay cool while enjoying a few more throughout the party.
“I’m seeing a lot of amazing vermouths and other unique aperitifs being highlighted through spritz variations,” continues Chernock. “I personally love a bittersweet Italian aperitif such as Cappelletti with just some soda water and an orange peel. Substituting a sweeter blanc vermouth is a fun variation and adding sparkling wine never hurts.”
Landes also highlights an up-and-coming low-ABV Italian cocktail he’s seeing a lot of; however, he predicts it might just take the spritz’s place this summer. “There’s a new Italian stallion about to be everywhere: The Amaro Highball,” he says. “Earthy, punchy, and soul-satisfying for summer, this drink is fast going to replace the spritzes of yesteryear with a new vacation in a glass.”
Try The Trend With: The Amaro Highball
- 2 ounces Braulio Amaro
- 1 ounce lime juice
- 0.75 ounce simple syrup
Method: Add all ingredients to a shaker, add ice, shake, and strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with cold club soda.
You’re no doubt aware of the recent craze for espresso martinis and coffee cocktails, and Chernock says this trend shows no signs of letting up. “They can be enjoyed at almost any time of day and the caffeine can be energizing and necessary if there's a long day or night ahead,” he explains.
Landes agrees with this, though he notes that this summer, the classic espresso martini is getting a shake-up. “We’re calling it now — the new twist for summer is the Espresso Highball Martini,” he says. “It’s poolside appropriate, easily drinkable in the heat of the season, and gives you that extra buzz for going from day to night or long into the evening.”
Try The Trend With: The Espresso Highball
- 1.5 ounces vodka
- 3 ounces espresso concentrate
- 0.5 ounce tonic syrup
Method: Add all ingredients to a shaker, add ice, shake, and strain into a highball glass (without ice). Top with cold club soda.