Tales of the Cocktail is an annual cocktail festival that brings together the international spirits community for five days of “what’s now, what’s new, and what’s next in bartending.” It’s where the best and brightest mixologists get together, make magic happen, and also give us a clue as to what some of the current and future drinking trends seem to be.

Wine Enthusiast recently published a piece about 5 of the craziest cocktail trends that they came across at Tales of the Cocktail. We weren’t able to attend, but from the sound of these trends, it was a pretty interesting and enlightening festival this year.

  • Custom cocktail presentation, like the Digidiva at The Artesian Bar in The Langham Hotel in London. It’s described as a 3D experience and head bartender Alex Kratena says he sees the cocktail glass like a stage and thinks about cocktails as telling stories. It’s hard to explain, but it’s one of those things you need to see to believe.
  • Creative garnishes, which according to Ryan McGrale, beverage director at Tavern Road in Boston, heighten the experience outside the glass. He attributes this trend to the growing popularity of the tiki bar scene.
  • Baijiu, the strong Chinese liquor that is the best-selling in the world. We told you about baijiu last summer and said it was coming to America…well, guess what? It’s here. Tales of the Cocktail featured an “East meets West” tasting room that served baijiu cocktails made with byejoe, which is the first baijiu brand that is widely available in the U.S.

These more creative trends are pretty interesting, not just because they sound cool, but because last year’s Tales of the Cocktail definitely had a different theme: simplicity. We love simplicity, but it looks like some of the mixologists who like to put on more of a show must have gotten a little bored. That’s okay, we are big fans of variety. Sometimes you want a simple martini, and sometimes you want your cocktail garnished with orange peels fashioned to look like a pirate flag. And that’s what makes drinking in America so great.