Palmer also suggested there was an opportunity for bars willing to produce a comprehensive list of non-alcoholic drinks.
He said: “There are an increasing number of people seeking a social schedule that doesn’t revolve around alcohol. And consumers don’t want to feel socially excluded or miss out because of it.”
On craft soda, he said: “There are concerns (sugar/big business) driving a surge in home/house-made soft drinks, which are appearing on the menus of progressive operators all over town.
“If you’re buying in, there’s a small number of small-batch options to add interest, such Dalston Cola, Square Root and Peter Spanton. And, of course Big Cola’s not giving up. Pepsi has launched a craft cola called Caleb’s Cola.”
On coffee, he said automation was already producing a more profitable and consistent process in some US stores and he expected more of a move in this direction in the UK.
He also predicted a boom in popularity of cold brews from spring onwards.
On the prospects for wine, Palmer expects independent wine bars to enjoy large growth alongside industry-wide wine declines.
He added: “What’s happening with wine is what happened with cocktails in the late 1990s. A few bars have started doing things differently, which gives the customer higher expectations, which they then carry with them to the next bar.”
He said operators should seek to exploit the increasing popularity of sparkling wine, including looking beyond Prosecco to newly available barrel-aged Cava, such as Torello Cava and to Lambrusco, which is enjoying popularity once again.
He forecast the US enthusiasm for beer cocktails to cross the pond and that flavoured beer would continue to be popular, but warned operators to be wary of a backlash over high craftbeer prices.
Palmer’s other tips on what to look out for in the new year included: “Beer bars styled as new wine bars. Rotating menus, small serving sizes... and lots of talk about herbs replacing hop in beer — a back track to medieval times.”