The Biggest Bar Trends of 2019

By Logan R. Brouse, January 2, 2019

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201703/logan.pngLogan R. Brouse, proprietor and mixologist of Logan’s Punch and Tacolicious, has run bars and clubs in Shanghai for over eight years. In between hangovers, he puts pen to paper in his column for That's to record his pontifications on the drink industry.

Shanghai is a multi-cultural shimmering city of both hope and despair. If you can make it in this dog eat dog world, at least your grandmother will be proud of you. So what is it that brings us all to the light? For many in our industry, it’s working day in and day out to make sure you are having a good time and enjoying really excellent drinks. With that spirit of exuberance, I asked some of my industry friends what makes bars in Shanghai tick and what trends we should be looking out for (or hell, spearheading) in 2019.

1. The Return of the Small Club

Image by Simon Huang/That's

If you look back over the past few years, Shanghai nightlife has transitioned from clubs to lounges to more intimate bars. So there are tons of speakeasies and whiskey bars, but what if people want to dance? As Sasha Bondi (of Mad Lab and Barbarian) points out, people do. He says, “My girlfriend and her friends are always looking for a place to go, something like Hollywood or the old Lola, so I hope next year is about a revival of smaller clubs with nice cocktails.” The cocktails are key because going to a club shouldn’t relegate you to drinking shitty drinks.

2. Draft Cocktails

Image by Simon Huang/That's

So, how do you serve up a consistently excellent cocktail to all these people? Spirits Box’s Hannah Kierl says draft cocktails are the solution: “You are going to see more and more bars, especially higher volume places, utilizing cocktails on tap. It will also be great for beer bars that want to keep the focus on beer and provide options without stocking a full bar.”

3. Sustainability 

Image by Simone Huang/That's

Speaking of small clubs, UP Shanghai's Geo Valdivieso points to the no straw movement that has been gaining momentum and predicts that nobody will be using single-use plastic straws next year. 

While I think that some people will still need straws, ladies with lipstick for one, I do agree that moving towards paper, bamboo and metal straws will become standard. Straws are just the beginning, and I’m waiting for someone to introduce a sustainable alternative to coasters. You’d be surprised how many we go through. 

Kierl takes it even further advocating for smarter use of food waste. She suggests turning it into cellulose to make fabric or using pineapple skin for paper napkins.

4. Mainstream Appreciation of Chinese Spirits

Image by Simon Huang/That's

Drinking locally is one way to reduce your carbon footprint. Phoebe Han (of Healer) has made it her mission to teach what she refers to as the “different language of Chinese spirits such as baijiu and huangjiu” through holding master classes. It is no secret that I’m a fan of baijiu, but it still hasn’t caught on. It’s going to take one cocktail that sets it apart — as Moscow Mules did for vodka – and that drink hasn’t been invented yet. Let’s be bold and say it will happen in 2019.

5. Low and No ABV

Image by Simon Huang/That's

I’m not into this one, but Kierl points out that “this trend has been happening other places and will work well with local needs.” Bondi chimes in that he has lots of young, female customers who come into buy drinks for photos that they don’t drink. I hate to admit it, but for health conscious drinkers or selfie happy non-drinkers, this could have a big impact on the market. 

Read more columns by Logan R. Brouse. 

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