Whether you prefer your martini shaken or stirred, or your Old Fashioned with bourbon, rye or mezcal, there's no denying the nationwide thirst for quality cocktails and locally-made spirits.
Bartenders have long been the trendsetters for tasty libations, as they've revived long lost recipes, invented some of their own, and traveled to far corners of the country and world for inspiration.
Brian Floyd is a longtime bartender and creative director of Sourced Craft Cocktails, a large-scale craft cocktail catering service that will be mixing up drinks for the Savor Dallas festival and its corresponding events April 6-9. We caught up with him to get the buzz about the latest trends in mixology.
GuideLive: What's the "it" spirit right now?
Floyd: For a while there everybody was really into whiskey, and people are still into whiskey, that hasn't gone away. But there's a big emphasis right now on agave spirits.
My friends are always going somewhere to visit really remote mezcaleros and see their process. Because of the process of making mezcal -- the natural fermentation from natural yeasts in the air, they each have their own way of roasting the piñas in the ground -- the best mezcals on Earth are being produced at about 100 bottles, tops. So the request for a good bottle of mezcal has become the holy grail for my peers in the industry right now.
Agave spirits, mezcal in particular, have a lot of people's attention.
What's one of the most notable trends in consumers' tastes you've noticed recently?
One of the things that has happened is the knowledge of good cocktails, the appreciation of good cocktails, it's trickle down knowledge. Once people have good cocktails, they expect good cocktails. You can go to neighborhood bars, you can go to sports bars and not be surprised they have a cocktail menu. It's not just the upper echelon of educated connoisseurs now.
Because people are used to good drinks, there are a lot of bars that no longer have the slow, deliberate, theatrical service. There are hybrid bars that can make a good cocktail, but can do it really quickly without any flash, so they can create lots of good cocktails for people in a party atmosphere. Creation and presentation of the drink is less precious and less theatrical because people just want the drink.
What's another trend you see (and like) in the craft cocktails scene?
Frozen drinks. Fresh juice craft cocktails, frozen. There are several bars that are doing this, but King Bee [in Austin] makes a frozen Bee's Knees that's just perfect, it's so good. They'll take high-class craft cocktails, but freeze them. It's a highbrow-lowbrow thing.
Frosé is such a great highbrow-lowbrow concept. That can be as highbrow or trashy as you want, but there's nothing wrong with trashy on a hot day.