Tired of buzzwords like mindful drinking and Damp January? How about a New Year’s resolution that actually involves booze? If that sounds more up your alley, consider this list of out-of-the-box beverages, straight from the brains of talented bartenders and beverage pros across the country. Though your favorite bartenders are more than happy to serve whatever drink you order, there are certain beverages they wish patrons would be more open to trying. These are the people who pour drinks all day (and night), so they already know what kind of rut you’re in.
If you’d like to try something new and stay a step ahead of the trends, read on for 15 recommendations for the kinds of drinks that bartenders wish their patrons would order more often.
The cocktails and spirits you should order more of this year, according to bartenders:
- Brandy, Cognac and rum
- High-end rum
- “Fun” cocktails
- Eau de vie, Calvados and cachaça
- The Last Word
- French 75
- Eau de vie
- Ten to One Rum’s Dark Caribbean Rum
“I’ve long hoped for people to drink more rum and brandy/Cognac. There are such wonderful options in both categories if you’re willing to dig into which producers are making their spirits with integrity. I think that responsibility falls on restaurant operators to show guests choices that aren’t marred by artificial additives and flavors.” —Thomas Mizuno-Moore, senior beverage manager, Aba, Antico Posto, Beatrix, Ēma, L. Woods, Chicago
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“One of my personal favorites, I would love to see more of a demand for high-end rum. The versatility of this spirit is incredible. It is great for twists on traditional cocktails like Manhattans, and there are some amazing vintage and single-barrel rums that can be sipped like Cognac. People need to get their heads out of the tiki bar and realize the full potential of this amazing spirit.” —Scott Taylor, beverage director, Harris’ Restaurant, San Francisco
“I really hope people continue having fun with cocktails this year! Order the Big Apple Martini! Does someone have an elevated Sex on the Beach? It’s probably delicious — have some fun, try that! Bartenders are doing remarkable things with drinks people once turned their noses at; I hope people really lean into that this year.” —Izzy Tulloch, head bartender, Milady’s, New York City
“The spirit I would like to see more people drinking this year is sherry. Whether by itself or in cocktails, sherry is still on the fringes of the cocktail world and needs to be brought into the fold. Sherry can be drunk before a meal as an aperitif, with seafood, after dinner to accompany dessert. As a cocktail ingredient, it can be used to add dryness, salinity, or sweetness to any other spirit it is paired with. Adding sherry to your life lets you drift off into a romantic notion of being in the seaside of Spain squinting to watch the waves and listening to the seagulls overhead while the world slows down. Oh, and it tastes great.” —Gabe Sanchez, general manager, Midnight Rambler at The Joule, Dallas
“I would like to see more people ordering eau de vie, Calvados, and cachaça. These are not new categories of spirits as they have been out there for many, many years but not as prominent and known as vodka, gin, rum, tequila, or whiskey. There is always room to explore, to educate, and to indulge in spirits unknown to the general public.” —Milos Zica, beverage director at Fandi Mata, Brooklyn
“I feel like the category of amari and herbal liqueurs has been growing in popularity over the last couple years, but I would love to see more people exploring this vast and varied category in 2023. There are so many more ways to utilize amari in cocktails beyond the typical application as a modifier. I actually love making cocktails in which amari is the base spirit.” —Liz Ramirez, bar manager, Crossroads Hotel, Kansas City, Mo.
“In 2023, I would love to see more people ordering gin, a spirit that has a richly storied past and a wide array of styles to choose from, each with its own complexity and depth. It gives bartenders the opportunity to experiment with the notes of a gin’s botanicals to highlight certain flavors and textures, resulting in beautifully crafted cocktails.” —Patrick Allard, food and beverage director, Grand Adirondack Hotel, Lake Placid, N.Y.
“In the midst of the Espresso Martini takeover, we have been seeing the classics being brought back to life. Negronis, Manhattans, French 75s, and the newest trend of the Sbagliatos (thank you, Emma D’Arcy). For 2023, the vintage limelight deserves to be shown on the Last Word. Consisting of equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice, this 100-year-old recipe has stood the test of time and warrants the hype for yet another century.” —Olivia Whirty, bar manager, Giusto, Newport, R.I.
“I am going for GRAPES! Specifically, pisco and Cognac. Both categories are so expressive and have a beautiful range of styles within their class that I want to see more people inquiring about them. Shochu is another one as well. There is an incredible range within this spirit from the source materials. They range from sharp and crisp to roasted and creamy. They are quite versatile and can be an asset to any beverage program.” —Lynnette Marrero, bartender & co-founder, Speed Rack, NYC
“This year is the year for rum, as it should be every year. Other spirits get plenty of love, but rum can be all things to all people. Want something simple and refreshing? Get a Daiquiri. Want something funky? Try something with Jamaican rum or rhum agricole. Want something boozy and complex? Try the mysterious stirred rum drink on the menu (that nobody ever orders). There is a wide and diverse world of rum to explore that goes well beyond Mai Tais. Also, people should order more Mai Tais.” —Harry Jamison, general manager, a.kitchen+bar, Philadelphia
“The cocktail I’d like to see ordered even more this year is the French 75. I feel like it occupies a nice refreshing place in between a low-ABV spritz and a traditional sour. It’s a great gateway cocktail into either realm and highly sessionable. I’ve found that people who typically don’t enjoy aged spirits are converted when they enjoy a French 75 made with Cognac.” —Benjamin Brown, head bartender, Porchlight, NYC
“I’m looking forward to continuing interest in brandy as a category. Not just Cognac, but an exploration of Calvados, Armagnac, and Brandy de Jerez. New World producers like Germain Robin and Clear Creek are doing exciting things, and I would love to see them on equal footing as the Old World titans. Also, I would love to see pisco explored beyond the sour. A BarSol Supremo Martini is a floral thing of beauty.” —Will Patton, bar director, JÔNT, Washington, D.C.
“Eau de vie 2023, baby! Quickly, EDV is an unaged distillate made from fruit, though grains and hopped beers have also been used. Why EDV? Because they are raw, unapologetic expressions of the fruits they were made from, and wildly versatile. Mix Rhine Hall Mango and club soda instead of cracking open that syrupy hard seltzer. Mix St. George Pear and some vermouth for a juicy Martini! Mix Clear Creek Plum with some whiskey, lemon, and honey for a complex and satisfying Gold Rush. Drink them neat, on the rocks, replace them for typical spirits in cocktails, even cook and bake with them!” —Mark Mentzel, lead bartender, The Elk Room, Baltimore
“In the new year, I’d love to see guests selecting cocktails based on flavor descriptions rather than the spirits category. That said, order whatever you enjoy. If it’s in a glass and you like it, we love it.” —Nico Diaz, head bartender, Ranstead Room, Philadelphia
“I’d love to see more people order Ten To One Rum’s Dark Caribbean Rum. It’s my personal favorite of their portfolio. The dark rum shows off the nuance of a great blend of rum and differing terroirs — a real masterpiece of flavor-balancing. Subtle yet pronounced. It’s warm and jammy without a bunch of added sugar or sweetness. A delicious rum with no added sugar, flavoring, or colorings, which is rare to find in the rum category.” —Micah Melton, beverage director, The Aviary and Alinea Group, NYC