Magazine: At a European quality level

By: Ipacs Tamás Date: 2021. 05. 20. 07:11

The world of Hungarian bars and the country’s cocktail, culture underwent great changes in the last few years.

Ádám Kamarás
Campari és Fluère
brand ambassador
Coca-Cola HBC

Ádám Kamarás, brand ambassador of Campari and Fluère (Coca Cola HBC Magyarország) spoke to our magazine about the uncertainties that characterised 2020 in many respects. He told that last year forced every bar and restaurant to be adaptive and creative. In his view most bars will welcome guests back with novelties.

Metzger László_Roust

László Metzger 
brand ambassador
Roust Hungary

László Metzger, brand ambassador of Roust Hungary Kft. talked about the important role the Hungarian Bartender Association plays in these hard times, ensuring that members of the bar community stay in touch during the lockdown. His expectation is that sales will go above the average when places reopen.

Trends and habits

Mr Metzger opines that international bar trends reach Hungary with a few-year delay. Currently the most influential trend is the consumption of high-end gins. A welcome change is the omission of plastic drinking straws. Many large distilleries are experimenting with 20-percent alcohol products, alcohol-free drinks and high-concentration spirits, e.g. a standard size gin tonic can be made with 5ml of gin instead of the usual 30-40ml.

Low ABV (alcohol by volume) cocktails have been popular for years and Mr Kamarás informed that the NoLo segment (low- and no-alcohol drinks) has expanded by 506 percent since 2015. One of the biggest novelties in the alcoholic drink portfolio of Coca-Cola HBC Magyarország is alcohol-free Fluère distillates: Fluère Original in gin flavour and Fluère Spiced Cane in aged rum flavour.

The number of conscious expert consumers constantly rises and they not only want to drink something in a bar, but want to see a show, too


Ádám Kamarás said: RTD (ready-to-drink) and premix drinks are still less popular in Hungary than in Western Europe. RTD drinks are relatively expensive and the fact that sales are slow means many retailers aren’t willing to give them shelf space.

László Metzger agreed that only a limited number of RTD drinks are available in Hungary. In his view this also has to do with the fact that demand is high for quality beers and wines in Hungary, and this is exactly the category where RTD drinks are competing.

An opinon- maker mixer generation has grown up who were able to assert the  knowledge they acquired abroad at home

Colourful flavours

Erika Gyarmati
key account manager
Panna Cocktail

Our magazine asked Erika Gyarmati, key account manager of Panna Cocktail Kft. – they distribute Monin syrups – about the domestic syrup market. She told that syrup sales have been growing in the retail channel during the pandemic. In 2020 many syrup manufacturers tried to enter bars and restaurants with lower-priced syrups, but very often these places returned to the high quality products such as Monin syrups after one try. Typically quality syrups are made with cane sugar and have high fruit content.

In line with the coffee trends, last yarer Monin developed a Cold Brew syrup. Monin has made a pledge to become carbon neutral by 2023. Many consumers want syrups to be free from preservatives and artificial colours. Because of the health trends a growing number of low-sugar and sugar-free syrups are available. //



Trends and products

There are nearly 6,000 hotels that belong to the InterContinental Hotels Group and the company interviewed some of its bartenders about the trends of 2020. They told that cocktails made with bitter vermouths and wines are becoming trendy. It is a pop-up trend to use aromatic but non-edible decoration. Bartenders are using various kitchen technologies and special culinary flavours are appearing in cocktails. Because of the Covid situation some bars were selling their most popular cocktails in bottled format.


Well-managed bars, good directions

Zoltán Rácz
brand ambassador
Pernod Ricard

The world of bars has developed a great deal in recent years. There are two main reasons behind this progress: the growing number of conscious, knowledgeable cocktail drinkers in Hungary and the fact that more and more bars can satisfy this demand. I think that most of the best Hungarian bars and bartenders are just as good as their Western European counterparts.
A good bartender is modest and perseverant, knows everything about cocktails and ingredients. Old Fashioned, Whisky Sour, Cosmopolitan and Esperesso Martini are the most popular cocktails in Hungarian bars. When it comes to long drinks, vodka-soda and gin-tonic are still the top favourite combinations. The no- or low-alcohol (NoLo) drink trend started one or two years ago abroad, but it isn’t big in Hungary yet.

In some of our bars there is no drink list: after a brief conversation with the guest, the bartender makes a drink that suits them the most. On the contrary, in other bars the contents and the look of the drink list is already part of the show. Syrups and fruit purées are used in cocktails more and more frequently. Many of them are made by the bar itself and there is a growing number of sugar-free products available. //

The world’s most popular cocktails in 2020

Every year trade magazine Drinks International compiles its TOP 50 ranking of cocktails by interviewing bartenders from the 100 best bars on 5 continents. Two thirds of the most popular cocktails are regularly featured in the TOP 10. It is noteworthy though that Aperol Spritz has become such a classic in a very short time. It first made it into the TOP 10 in 2019 and managed to stay there in the latest ranking. The most popular cocktails of 2020 are above. //

Guests change together with the bartender

Miklós Hubai
brand ambassador
Beam Suntory

Hungary’s bar culture underwent great changes in the last few years. Hungarians have become much more willing to try other cocktails than the classic Pina Colada, Mojito, Sex on the Beach and the like.

In the meantime a new generation of bartenders grew up. Those who belong to this generation learned the trade abroad and now use their knowledge and skills to offer something new in Hungary. It is in Budapest where we find the most bars, but there are one or two places in every county seat that represents the same level.

Being a bartender means constant learning and I, as the Hungarian brand ambassador of Beam Suntory, can teach them primarily about bourbon whiskies and Japanese spirits, in the form of courses and training programmes.

Not only the bartenders have made progress, guests have changed, too: they trust bartender recommendations more than before, but this also depends on how prepared the bar staff is and how much time they have for communicating with guests. //


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