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In days gone by, a simple gin and tonic was the height of sophistication when it came to cocktails. But in recent years, cocktails have undergone a metamorphosis to become gloriously elaborate concoctions.

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With names such as Xocolatl Mole Chocolate Bitters or Bonal Gentiane-Quina on the menu, today’s cocktails require intense study just to understand the names. When it comes to ingredients, there is now a vast range of obscure spirits, arcane mixers and small-batch bitters to delight in.

The vista of the cocktail world is now altered for good. Today new small-batch and local spirits predominate, led by increasingly outré ingredients.

Despite the trend today for fast food and hurried service, dedicated young staff in craft cocktail bars take their time, exuding the slow deliberation of a previous era where quality is the focus.

1. Apothecary Themes

Cocktails were born in the era of patent medicine – the early nineteenth century. Now top bartenders utilise old-fashioned ingredients and methods to create new flavours.

Home-made tinctures (single infusions of barks, herbs and similar), bitters (infused ingredients, blended), and syrups (water, sugar and flavourings) create modern cocktails bursting with 200 years of tradition.

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2. Mezcal

Mezcal is related to tequila, and while less known it is more exciting. Both are made in Mexico and distilled from agave, although mezcal has a smokier, rougher flavour: think Marlon Brando rather than Hugh Grant.

3. Digestive Bliss

Amari (or ‘bitters’ in Italian) are meant to encourage digestion after a meal. Aperol and Fernet-Branca from Italy have come to dominate the scene, and now US Amari have introduced an essence of the New World — sprinkled with a touch of sweet and making for intriguing cocktails.

Post Mix Suppliers in the UK include

Some international bar trends are covered here:

4. Bars in Bars

Small craft bars are now to be found concealed within larger restaurants and bars — a kind of micro-micro-trend.

Bartenders sell high-volume beer as well as highballs to the hoi polloi out front, while quietly serving customers with more discerning palates privately.

5. Distillery Hot Spot

Portland, Oregon, is the headquarters of the craft distilling movement in the western USA. Twelve micro-distilleries create drinks ranging from apple brandy to vodka, with the spiritual epicentre being a cluster on south-east Portland’s Distillery Row.

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