Cocktail culture is skyrocketing internationally, with more and more drinkers asking for cocktails on a night out. In Vietnam, the cocktail revolution is definitely here to stay after taking a long time to emerge out of its whisky bottle, shake itself down and order a Manhattan.
The fact that Asia, Latin America and the Middle East are now represented on the World’s 50 best bars list is testament to this exciting category in the industry. New ideas, trends, cultural influences and techniques are accelerating the pace of development with people leading the charge from across the globe, in turn, inspiring people to drink better the world over.
So, what of 2018 as we enter the last month of the year? 2017 saw the continued spread of the global gin pandemic. This will undoubtedly continue, with boutique distillers penetrating domestic markets in their home territories and increasing exports to frontier markets such as Vietnam.
By 2020, Vietnam is projected to consume 4.5 billion litres of beer, 350 million litres of alcohol and spirits, and 8.8 billion litres of other beverages per year. Growth in the beverage sector is underpinned by the rising living standards, and the industry is generally underpenetrated in comparison to other Asia-Pacific nations.
There are no statistics available on cocktail consumption in the Vietnam yet. However I can report a monthly increase in cocktail sales at Shri, which would serve as a litmus for Saigon.
The recent World Class Competition for bartender of the year saw many of the world’s leading lights forecasting drink trends for 2018 in between judging rounds.
Dre Masso commented: “Sustainable and re-useable methods and ingredients are becoming increasingly important. The mixologists who embrace this new reality are the ones who will flourish.”
Another industry leader, Alex Kratena, said: “I expect to see more switched-on bar operators and bar tenders creating unique drink experiences that go beyong `what’s expected’ and push signature services to become the answer to what tasting menus are in the restaurant world.”
Last year the cocktail art of Saigon bartender manual was launched, featuring 41 unique signature cocktails that tell the story of Vietnam. The book shows art, culture, recipes and methods and forms the bar menu at Shri and The Studio Saigon.
Here in Vietnam, I predict there will be more and more boutique distillers that will be distilling rum and rather than gin. Already I have samples from small batch distillers with some liquids produced that would be easily comparable with established household names in the sector. The difference is, the liquid is small batch, high quality and has a great story.
Shri Restaurant and Lounge manager Richie Fawcett is an artist who sits on Asia’s 50 best bars voting panel.