Kimpton’s Top Culinary and Cocktail Trends for 2019 (Infographic)

What will be the top F&B trends for 2019? 

According to Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants' fifth annual Culinary + Cocktail Trend Forecast, sustainability and wellness are fueling the superfood revolution and the whole vegetable movement; however, that hasn't slowed the emergence of more adventurous preferences, from offal-based dishes to bold African and Israeli influences. 

Each year, the Kimpton Culinary + Cocktail Trends Forecast reveals the flavors, ingredients and philosophies that will be explored by chefs and bartenders in the year ahead. Trends are uncovered via a survey of over 100 chefs, sommeliers, general managers and bartenders from 80+ Kimpton restaurants and bars

Kimpton chefs hope the culinary world will bid adieu to:

  • activated charcoal
  • anything deconstructed
  • pumpkin spice
  • molecular food 
  • edible dirt.

When it comes to the bar scene, expect to see reimagined mocktails, mushroom-infused spirits, the rise of flavored alcoholic seltzers and exciting food and drink pairings ranging from wild boar heart and burgundy to crickets and pisco. 

"It's remarkable to see the year-over-year evolution of these major dining trends and the role wellness, culture and human connection continues to play in the dining experience," says Scott Gingerich, Kimpton's Senior Vice President of Restaurants & Bars. "I'm proud to work with creative, boundary-pushing chefs and bartenders who surprise us with new flavor combinations, unexpected ingredients and innovative ways to incorporate sustainability into everything we do." 

Culinary Trends

Plant-Based Movement Goes into Overdrive

  • Last year's forecast saw meat alternatives going mainstream, but the plant-based movement won't stop there. This year, 80 percent of chefs plan to feature a vegan or raw dish on their menu, whether that's a savory dish like spaghetti and beet balls or a sweet treat like raw cashew date cheesecake. 
    Geraldine's Bourbon Glazed Cauliflower
  • Expect to see more "whole beast movement" but with a vegetable twist, as chefs experiment with "whole vegetable" entrées, like roasted eggplant with eggplant caviar and family-style vegetable "charcuterie."

Carnivores Double Down 

  • There will be more experimentation with offal-based dishes – such as monkfish liver mousse, trippa on bruschetta and offal and sausage arancini, showing that the plant-based movement isn't stopping meat-lovers from getting adventurous. 

Unique Flavors, Herbs & Spices 

  • Nearly 40 percent of chefs see smoky flavors influencing menus in 2019, with floral flavors (rose and lavender) and Israeli flavors (cumin and tahini) also gaining popularity. 
  • We'll see more creative uses of African spices, including the blend of ras el hanout from North Africa, South African herb rooibos or "red bush" and the fiery and aromatic berbere spice mix found in many Ethiopian dishes. 
  • Thirty-one percent of chefs listed sumac as the number one spice they'll be using in 2019, with Japanese seven-spice mix togarashi and green, leafy lovage also emerging as favorites.

The Superfood Revolution

  • Expect to see more gut-friendly, fermented and probiotic-rich ingredients like tapache and sauerkraut infiltrating both dishes and drinks alike. 
  • From spices like turmeric, sage and holy basil, to proclaimed "natural elixirs" like rose water, camu and goji berries, we're seeing a new obsession with superfoods that pack a strong nutritional punch. 

Classics Reimagined

  • We'll continue to see classics like pasta and pizza reimagined, as carbohydrate alternatives like cauliflower gnocchi, yuba pasta and chickpea and polenta crusts continue flying off the shelves. We also don't expect the spotlight to fade on milk alternatives as new players like hemp milk become more mainstream.   
    Crab Beignets Courtesy Radiator
  • Chefs are also transforming classics like crab beignets, clam chowder and deep-dish pizza to create fritters with apple sage aioli, chowder fries, and pizza seasoned potato chips. 

Upping the Ante on Sustainability  

  • Chefs are continuing to incorporate sustainable practices into their restaurants by embracing zero waste dinners, sourcing from one origin, onsite composting and greenhouses, and by reducing gas, heat and water usage.  
  • Hyper local sourcing also continues to be top of mind with 57 percent of chefs identifying vegetables as the most important ingredient to source locally, trumping fruit, meat, dairy, wine and spirits. 

Cocktail Trends

New Flavors and Regional Influences 

  • Turmeric and rose emerged as the top new flavors you'll find in cocktails, with tarragon and celery root as runner up ingredients. 
  • Vibrantly green matcha has taken coffee shops and Instagram by storm, but according to bartenders the next trending beverage may contain one or more of the following: moringa, goji berries, pandan, fenugreek, genmaicha or mate. 
  • North African, Japanese and Latin American culture will also be heavily influencing drink menus. Examples include harissa-infused mezcal and plantain-infused scotch.

Not Your Mom's Mocktail

  • A resounding 80 percent of bartenders will be featuring more non-alcoholic cocktails on their menus in 2019. Virgin cocktails are more inspired and complex than ever before thanks to new non-alcoholic spirits like Seedlip, house made syrups and tonics and the use of fermented ingredients. 
    Not Your Nonna s Bloody Mary

A 360 Approach to Sustainability 

  • Eighty-eight percent of bartenders consider sustainability whenever they design a cocktail for their menu and are embracing new approaches to sustainability including edible garnishes, on-site bee hives, room temperature cocktails, and bar and kitchen menus featuring fewer ingredients that are incorporated into multiple items. 

Featuring Funky Fungi + Obscure Vegetables

  • Mushroom beverages like fungi Irish coffee, mushroom and thyme infused vodka and mushroom tea with sparkling wine are taking both kitchen and bar menus by storm. Nearly 70 percent of bartenders are experimenting with mushroom-infused spirits, mushroom broth or tea. 
  • Last year saw a surge in vegetable cocktails with ingredients like corn, beans and beets but according to bartenders, more obscure vegetables like tomatillo, chayote, fiddleheads, jicama and sunchoke are being used to create more surprising and elevated flavor combinations.  
  • Savory cocktails also continue to be inspired by the kitchen with Cacio e Pepe martinis and a gin cocktail featuring cucumber, mint, Greek yogurt and lemon to emulate gyros.  

Flavored Seltzer is the New Wine Cooler 

  • Move over wine coolers, because flavored alcoholic seltzers are hot right now. Sixty-three percent of bartenders are considering using a flavored alcoholic seltzer with either a seasonal fruit puree, herbal garnish or splash of citrus for a light and refreshing drink.   

Off-the-Wall Ingredients + Pairings

  • Chorizo, jackfruit, anchovy, perennial grains, endive, yuzu (sour Japanese fruit), black sapote and blessed thistle are some of the more bizarre ingredients likely to appear on bar menus in 2019. 
  • Wine and cheese will always be the queen of food and beverage pairings, but bartenders are experimenting with new combinations including wild boar heart and burgundy, oysters and gin, crickets and pisco, Latin cuisine and scotch as well as some crowd favorites like champagne and fried chicken.

New Wine and Beer Trends

  • We'll see the new wave of natural winemaking and the emergence of new grape varietals such as Divico and Aromella, leading to more unique flavor combinations and elevated blends. 
  • Expect an uptick in dry-hopped sours, bright kolsch style beers and more respect paid to fruit and spiced beers that appeal to beer drinkers looking for more distinct flavors. 
  • When it comes to fan favorites, frozen rosé and Aperol spritz were the two drink darlings that came to mind. According to our bartenders, a marriage of the two will create the most popular drink of 2019 – introducing Aperol frosé.
    Frozen Aperol Spritz Photo by Kristin Teig

Kimpton restaurants and bars will incorporate these trends into dishes and drinks, on regular menus as well as on special "Friendsgiving" menus available at many Kimpton restaurants across the country in November. In honor of the giving season, a portion of all Friendsgiving menu purchases will be donated to Kimpton partner No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit committed to ending childhood hunger.