The definitive guide to the finest drinking experiences

The World Class 50: The Definitive Drinking Guide features 50 of the most innovative and talented bartenders from across the globe. Each bartender showcases the perfect location, the most inventive cocktail and the finest of ingredients and spirits that define the 'must have' fine drinking experience in their city.

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After our review of 2013, we thought we’d continue the New Year in anticipation, by asking leading bartenders what cocktail trends they think will feature prominently in the coming twelve months. It seems like 2014 will be a year built on a foundation of excellent spirits, thorough planning and some interesting partnerships.

The element of true quality in the base spirit will become increasingly important, with bartenders everywhere observing that this is the bedrock which supports all else. In Europe, Atalay Aktas anticipates ‘minimalist cocktails and old recipes anchored by high quality spirits,’ and David Rios agrees: ‘I believe less is more, and we are moving towards cocktails with fewer ingredients and more flavoursome spirits.’ In Panama, Enrique Auvert notes ‘that I used to design recipes more around fresh fruit, but increasingly I build drinks around a base spirit, and that has to be excellent.’ The same seems true in Morocco, where Nabil Ben Al Khattab sees ‘a greater demand for premium spirits mixed with fresher fruit.’

It also seems that we will see (or at least reap the rewards of) a greater emphasis on mise en place and the wider use of advanced techniques. Jason Clark thinks that ‘mise en place is continuing to grow and will become more prominent – bartenders are starting to see that if you put more work in before you open you can make more advanced drinks quickly when busy later.’ Jenner Cormier explains how ‘more of the hard work is now done “off camera” before and after shifts: ‘smoking ingredients is really popular right now, barrel-ageing is something that people in Canada have latched onto, and their palates are becoming accustomed to bitter tastes.’ Jad Ballout and Simon Crompton echo this belief of using specialist equipment and molecular mixology methods – such as carbonating, barrel-ageing, smoking and vapourising cocktails – which is still developing as a trend.

Matching up specific cocktails with certain dishes of food is another concept set to grow this year. Victor Yang explains: ‘the most obvious trend I see is the use of cocktail pairing with food, which was once the sole domain of wines.’ Mattia Pastori thinks that the fashion exists not just with the drink being a mere accompaniment, but rather ‘where eating becomes part of the cocktail experience.’ Hasse Bank Johansen who runs a venue along these lines believes that food and cocktail pairings are set to expand as the basis of a full evening’s entertainment.