What Could Become a Trend in the Bar Industry in 2021

by Angus Winchester


People always want to know what's trending. So I try to accommodate them and write about it. What is a trend anyway? Why is it so important for people? And what phenomena could exist as a trend in 2021?


Trend, fashion or fad?

Firstly I guess to be accurate we should define a few terms that may seem similar but are in fact significantly different. Firstly a trend is a way of describing something (can be just about anything) that is popular at a certain point in time but may also be used to describe the general direction that thing may be moving in general.

Fashion describes latest and popular styles of clothing, hair, decoration, etc. and is most generally used to describe clothes and style items.

Finally a fad is similar to both but is an object or behavior that achieve short-lived popularity but fade away. While this may seem to be pedantic and unnecessary to state its at the core of why people are fascinated by it and why articles about trends are dangerous.


The masses have a say

No-one wants to be promoting or wasting their time on a fad so its useful to understand how to spot the difference.  There used to be an unofficial rule that a thing was a fad unless there were at least 3 examples of them. Us brand ambassadors used to joke about Pear Vodka being a fad as only Absolut and Grey Goose made one. This is actually known as ‘scope of phenomenon’ as a trend has to be beyond a single brand or item.


A matter of time

Also generally a trend starts due to a real world need for it to exist or occur. Trends have an identifiable benefit. Finally The rate of growth of the object or activity can also provide clues as to it being fad or trend. Trends evolve slowly over time often with with course corrections and new approaches to the same concept as the idea grows and matures.


Trends must be allowed to grow ...

And it is this last component that really messes things up. Back in the day a ‘trend’ would start and slowly evolve. In our world a bar would start doing something and then play with it. Then other bars in the neighbourhood or city would start to experiment too. It might get written up in a print magazine and the real world readers would start to play. Its slowly evolved and made mistakes and got better and cheaper/faster/tastier etc.


...and are prevented from doing so

Nowadays a bar does something and a bartender posts about it for likes on social media and – as they say – a lie gets halfway round the world before the truth gets its shoes on. Vague ideas are taken and turbocharged. Boundaries (that no-one yet knows what they are) are pushed and envelopes are shredded. Articles are written by citizen journalists keen for a scoop to capture the zeitgeist. Mistakes are inevitably made publicly and reviewed mercilessly by members of the public and many promising ideas wither due to it now being perceived as a fad.


The yearning for trends

Yet articles about trends are still commissioned and still read avidly despite the fact that we know much of what we read will make us roll our eyes and laugh at. They have become the equivalent of male fashion catwalk shows. We laugh at their ridiculousness but also cannot turn away completely just in case there is a nugget of reality that we can use. So in that vein and because you can read an article about trends that does not suggest at least 3 things to consider then here are them for you to decide if they are trend or fad.


Three proposals for the summer of 2021

Cocktail Mashups – two distinct cocktails forced together in the style of DJs’ experimentation. We are not talking Rum Manhattans here but from the OG Miami Vice (Pina Colada and Strawberry Daiquiri in the same glass) to the a la minute Cosmogroni from Café Dante in NYC we are seeing examples…

Non-alcoholic bars – or bars that serve zero alcohol rather than just having a strong ‘mocktail’ program. From Awake Sober in Denver to Virgin Mary in Dublin these are spaces and businesses that choose to serve no alcohol yet aim to retain the fun and social aspects of a traditional bar with later opening hours and dim lighting etc as well as a creative drinks beyond coffee and juices.

No waste cocktail bars are bars that put sustainability front and centre of their existence and aim to reduce, reuse, recycle, reclaim and just about any other re- you can think of. From the aptly titles Re in Sydney to Penicillin bar in Hong Kong these bars take the ideas of sustainability and eco thinking and make them fully functional bars.