In 2021, we can expect greener bars, prettier cocktails, and booze-free alcohols. Check out some of the biggest bar trends to look forward to next year.

1. Sustainability

Foodservice establishments going green made a big splash in 2020, and it’s not likely to die down in 2021. Sustainability is one of those trends that can be expected to turn into a necessity, with environmental concerns continuing to plague humanity. And it’s not just for the environment either. Studies show that millennials, which make up a vast portion of the market, are willing to pay more if bars are eager to ramp up their sustainability efforts.

2. Booze-Free or Low-ABV Cocktails

While it may be odd for establishments known for selling alcohol to go this route, there’s a growing demand for alcohol-free drinks and drinks with low alcohol-by-volume content. These mocktails, a shortcut for mock cocktails, used to be made for drivers and pregnant women. However, more people realise that it would be great if they could enjoy a night out at a bar without having to suffer from a hangover the next day. The rise of mocktails is also a testament to what bartenders have been pointing out all along—that the taste of a drink is still crucial.

3. Instagrammable Cocktails

In an age where people don’t get to take a bite of their food without taking a snap of it first, it only makes sense that bartenders will have to up their aesthetics for Instagram as well. In 2021, bars will continue to put out all the stops to make their cocktails look good for the photo, even employing new tricks such as using fire, smoke, and all sorts of exciting containers for their drinks.

4. Lavishly Iced Drinks

Gone are the days when cocktails were cooled by plain, old regular ice. While patrons were happy using simple ice cubes, bars have opened up their choices with nugget ice, hand-chipped ice, and even luxury ice spheres made from bubble-free, double-distilled water that melt far slower than a simple cube. In 2021, bars will have to invest in premium commercial ice makers like a Maxx cold ice machine if they want to keep up with the trend.

5. Exotic Spirits

Vodka and tequila will take a back seat for the moment as bars shine a light on lesser-known liqueurs from exotic locations. Mezcal, for example, is an agave-based Mexican drink that is typically known for being the smokier, earthier cousin of tequila. Another spirit we will see more often on bar shelves is cacha├ža, a Brazilian brandy made by distilling sugarcane juice. Japan’s poor man’s liqueur Shochu is also set to take the stage in 2021. Made from rice, barley, buckwheat, and sweet potato, shochu tastes like vodka with a little bit more character.

6. Vintage Spirits

Gin is sometimes seen as an older generation’s spirits, but expect this timeless classic to make a comeback in 2021. Younger patrons are jacking up the demand for imported and locally crafted gin, in particular, but they’re not afraid to ask for aside from the herbal, piney flavour profile of traditional gin. Other old-timers’ favourites that will make a big return next year include bourbon and even shandy, a light, summery drink that’s made by combining beer and lemon-lime soda.