Logan R. Brouse, proprietor and mixologist of Logan’s Punch and Tacolicious, has run bars and clubs in Shanghai for over ten years. In between hangovers, he puts pen to paper in his column for That’s to record his pontifications on the drink industry.
Happy New Year Shanghai, and welcome to 20/20, the year of perfect eyesight and spotted livers. As is our annual tradition, we met with some of the lead people in the alcohol industry to discuss what will be hot fire. Our panel was pretty incredible; key industry players, spirits makers, spirits distributors and me, a spirited drinker. You might not agree with our predictions, but as the famous saying goes, “There are three kinds of people: those who can count and those who can’t.” Like Greta Thunberg, you can mourn the loss of your childhood as you pour a large glass of your favorite spirit, turn up the ‘I Love My 90’s Hip Hop’ playlist on Spotify and get ready for the Player’s Ball.
Guest Experience – Laura Thomason, Director for Spirits Box
Image courtesy of Laura Thomason
People are looking for a small bar experience, like specialized spirits bars within larger spaces such as the gin-focused lobby bar at The Sukhothai. Another way to do this is with activity spaces like the Cages team, who are opening a mini-golf venue. At these kinds of higher volume spaces – where the customer isn’t watching drinks being made – the speed of service is extra important.
Going Back to Basics – Zachary Connor de Git, Monkey 47 Brand Ambassador – Asia Pacific
Image courtesy of Zachary Connor de Git
The last 10 years have been about very experimental drinks, but now is the time to simplify things. That means bars need to have great teams that have been well-trained on the basics. It’s not about fancy drinks, it’s about service. If your ‘startenders’ isn’t in the house, everyone still has a great experience.
Better Food at Bars, Better Cocktails at Restaurants – Elysia Bagley, Editor, DriNK Magazine and Thirsty Work Productions
Image courtesy of Elysia Bagley
Many cocktail bars are opening up with great dining programs, and at the same time, many restaurants are becoming more serious about cocktails. Take Birds of Paradise and Arch – these are bars at heart, but with awesome food. I have a bad habit of working very late, skipping dinner and then making a bar visit… but now I can eat there instead of drinking on an empty stomach. We’re entering a time when you can have it all in one stop.
Drinking Smarter – Craig Swindell, Chivas Regal Brand Ambassador
Image courtesy of Craig Swindell
People are becoming more health-conscious in all aspects of their lives, and this will cross-over to the bar as well. Spirit highball serves with soda water – and simple garnishes – will trend, giving people a low sugar-reduced alcohol option. We will see the reduction of straight spirit shots too, think five shots of whisky sour instead of 40% spirit to create that ‘cheers’ moment without the burn.
Crossover Bars – Helena Kidacka, Cofounder, Crimson Pangolin Gin
Image courtesy of Helena Kidacka
I’ve noticed fusion bars and restaurants like SakeMate – that is Nikkei cuisine – and Chino Latino, which also crosses South American with Chinese. I also think we will see more crossover in products. In addition to more Chinese gin launches, we will probably see a few Chinese whiskeys, local soft drinks and ready-to-drink beverages coming through.
Bund Revival – Logan R. Brouse
Image by Simon Huang/That's
With the opening of JUJU, the Bund is starting to feel cool again. Back when I worked at M1NT, I was always there. It was ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ back then, and one night when I worked at MUSE on the Bund we did one million US dollars in a night. It used to be the place to go, but more cocktail bars started opening in the city center. Now the Bund has shifted to smaller bite-sized places like The Nest (who started this shift) and now JUJU.
See more of Logan's columns here.
Cover image by Cristina Ng/That's