In the wine world, trends are generally mysterious in origin and consumer-led. We may be able to trace their origins, but no one knows how popular they’ll become or long they will last. Spirits marketing, on the other hand, is almost totally top-down. A handful of executives decide on what the hot new trend will be, and then spend a fortune to create it.
Not all spirits trends succeed, of course—a quick glance at last year’s list is proof of that. Remember vinegar cocktails? How about barrel-aged cocktails? The answer is probably no, and the reason is that both these fads never entered the mainstream. The reasons are obvious (most people can’t consume enough vinegar cocktails to get a buzz, and most bars don’t want to invest hundreds of dollars and months of waiting to produce barrel-aged drinks). One layer below that, there was no fortune to invest and no real product to spend it on.
In any case, we have our first spirits trend of the year—soup cocktails. The Cellar Bar at Manhattan’s Bryant Hotel is currently featuring three of them: Lobster Bisque infused with Harvey’s Bristol Cream and Port, Carrot-Ginger Soup with Domaine de Canton and Frangelico, and Herb-Tomato with vodka. The Lobster Bisque concept is hardly new, since many establishments have served it with a shot of Sherry for years. Herb-Tomato is obviously a takeoff on the Bloody Mary (New Covent Garden, an English company, launched a packaged Bloody Mary soup last June). The Carrot-Ginger sounds intriguing, though, and well worth trying.
Is this a trend? It’s probably more like the well-executed idea of a sharp PR company. More to the point, the appeal is seasonal—come the middle of August, a bowl of Lobster Bisque topped off with a shot of Sherry probably won’t seem like a great idea.