The new cocktail experience

The bartender uses art and science to create sensory cocktail experiences for adventurous drinkers. According to a Mintel report from April 2018, 55% of Americans prefer to drink at home. Although the overall amount of alcohol consumed outside of the house is declining, spending has increased as consumers adopt the “fewer but more” mentality.

Caleb Bryant is a senior food service analyst with Mintel. He says that bars and restaurants need to work harder than ever before to give customers a unique experience.

The Blue Bar, located in London’s Berkeley Hotel, launched the Out of the Blue Cocktail Tasting Experience in November 2017. It is described as a “secret space” that allows guests to explore the way sensory stimulation can change flavor perceptions. Out of the Blue, a 360-degree immersive experience created in partnership with Bacardi Limited is designed to stimulate all five senses – taste, sound, touch, and smell. A maximum of four guests enter a cube-shaped sensory playground where they can sample temperature-controlled cocktails. At the same time, custom-made animations are projected onto the walls, and sounds and molecular smells fill the room.

Out of the Blue places taste first by removing the menu and eliminating preconceived ideas about the drink. It also changes the environment surrounding guests while they drink to demonstrate how surroundings can influence taste buds. Rashid Ghuloom is the bar manager at The Berkeley. He told JWT Intelligence that instead of serving each drink differently, they should be served identically. “Let’s remove everything and concentrate on flavor. Then use technology to enhance and explain the flavors.”

The result? The result? Mintel found that 35% prefer to drink at home, as they believe it is more intimate.

Bars in the United States continue to explore new ways of attracting consumers by reinventing how a cocktail can be consumed using hi-tech machines.

In Los Angeles, the Bazaar launched its Bazaar Flights tasting menu in order to make their cocktails as innovative and delicious as the food they offer. Six drink interpretations are created by using a Cryovac or an iSi whipper, which can create gelatinous spheres containing flavor bubbles. The delivery methods vary from airplane-shaped teaspoons to mouth-spritzes made with gin in vintage perfume bottles.

The menu has already featured drinks such as Ben Franklin’s Milk Punch – a drink based on Franklin’s recipe, served in a glass “milk carton” – and a caipirinha, chilled with liquid nitrogen and presented in an opaque mixing bowl. Cava is shown in a small portion – a traditional Catalan glass wine pitcher.

On the east, The Aviary in New York City opened in September 2017. It also incorporates science into its cocktail. Wake and Bake is a coffee Manhattan served in a scented balloon. It takes a little science to make the drink. The balloon is cut open to release a smell that evokes the quintessential New York Breakfast. In The Rocks, an Old-Fashioned cocktail served in a hollow sphere filled with super-chilled ice. Guests are invited to use a slingshot and break the ice to release the cocktail.

Bring Another Smurf is a popular drink name. Drink names like Bring Another Smurf! The Aviary team is committed to pushing boundaries in bartending and adding humor.

No surprise, bars are inviting consumers to unique venues where they can “drink” new cocktails. According to Mintel, 49% of Americans say that they go out to drink to try new drinks. The winning formula for bars appears to be to create a unique environment and menu that consumers cannot replicate at home.

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