Premium tea to become the next big beverage

Tea, sodas, vermouth, sour beer and pressed juices are the beverage trends of 2014 identified by Baum + Whiteman‘s New York team of of influential restaurant consultants.

Tea: With Starbucks committed to converting America to tea, look for others to amplify the attention. Teavanna opened a tea bar/cafe in Manhattan … with more to come … discovering people are more likely to buy food with tea than with coffee. Smart bartenders will look at Teavanna’s and competitors’ multi-flavored fruit and herbal blends as convenience bases for boozy cocktails … chefs may use them for basting.

Vermouth: Latest fixation of artisan bartenders …making bespoke vermouths and stocking dozens of branded items … mostly obscure. Go to Spain to see the real action.

Sodas: SodaStream contraptions have consumers experimenting with sodas at home … even making carbonated cocktails. Restaurants also crafting sodas using house-made fruit syrups and infusions … some bottled, some on-tap.

The craft beer movement spawns craft sodas … same mantra: local, natural, artisan. And Starbucks (they’re onto every trend) has customer soda machines … called Fizio … on test in stores carbonating teas, sodas, coffee, lemonade.

Sour Beer: Innoculating beers with wild yeasts and aging them in wood, craft brewers are turning out fragrant but sour … really sour … beers. Not for everyone, but catching on among sophisticates. With the acidity of pinot noir, they’re great with bbq.

Pressed Juices: Juice bars are no longer for health nuts and body cleansers.

Lots of investors pouring into cold-pressed juiceterias now that millions of people … too busy to eat an apple or carrot but willing to pay someone to juice it for them … are demanding fresh fruit and vegetables in profuse combinations.

Just-made is best, four-hour juice is next-best, and then there’s high-pressure sterilization that keeps bottled juices in the fridge for days or week. All lack fiber but they’re selling. Jamba Juice repositioning from a smoothie chain and Starbuck’s Evolution Fresh becoming a lifestyle brand. Pressed juices plus booze make super-premium cocktails. Bar Culture Trendlets: Mixologists, mostly in hotels, bottling their own small-batch carbonated cocktails. Flavored ice cubes. Misting flavored essences over finished cocktails. Gin connoisseurship … gin and tonic bars.

… Oceana in New York stocks 38 types of gin. Hard cider will take off next as beer brewers enter the market to protect their businesses … food-friendly, low-alcohol, gluten-free … even seducing non-drinkers

Dispensed highbrow slushy cocktails with house-made ingredients … faster service, unique, hand-crafted. Locally made rye and bourbon; there are more than 300 small-batch distillers in the US. Farm-to-shaker cocktail merchandising. Non-sugar sweeteners. More beer and wine in fast-casual chains.