Tapping into the draft cocktail trend

When cocktail royalty such as Alex Kratena and Monica Berg start adopting a particular serve approach, chances are it’s going to be big. Shay waterworth reports

BOXES HAVE ONLY recently started to regain their status as an acceptable form of decanter for wine. The box was often thought of as a cheap alternative to bottles, degrading the quality of the wine, but this is changing and it has become far more popular in Scandinavia, Europe and even the US. A similar thing happened with canned beer, embraced by the craft movement to rid the format of the poor reputation bestowed by canned lager. And now there is another trend on the boom – cocktail taps. Yep, draft cocktails are a thing, and they’re serious.

Many cocktail bars, even ones in The World’s 50 Best Bars, are serving cocktails from taps. Milk & Honey in London has a variety of tapped cocktails and the city even has a bar called Fare Bar + Canteen, which serves every drink – including beers, wines and cocktails –from taps, and not a bottle in sight.

In the most recent edition of our sister magazine Class, Monica Berg and Alex Kratena described how one of their new bars, Elementary, will only serve cocktails from taps. They will use Norwegian company Taptails to develop its dispense system and, considering people have been waiting three years for them to open their own venue, they must have faith in the concept. Kratena highlighted the simplicity of using taps rather than training or paying for top-level bartenders. Perhaps the purists out there will mourn the lack of romance with just pouring a cocktail, but to the average Joe, it’s a cocktail served as quickly as a pint of beer, more consistently and with less fuss.

Sam Millin, founder of Taptails, says: “When we started out a few years back there weren’t many people doing cocktails on tap, but the main part of our business is making the liquid rather than installing the equipment. We try not to get too involved with installation regularly because there’s a lot of responsibility associated with it. Installation is also one of the biggest costs involved with tapped cocktails but it can be easier and cheaper setting up in pubs with existing equipment.”


Millin adds: “There are lots of things to consider about technology when serving cocktails from a tap. The temperature wants to be the same as if the liquid was coming out of a shaker – about -2° to -6° – and the easiest way of achieving this is by using an existing draft beer system with a coil cooler. These types of system can use a form of antifreeze to keep the liquid flowing.”

Carbonation levels and mouthfeel are also crucial to cocktails. Taptails has been working with in-line carbonation and the use of argon to perfect the systems, but Millin insists that for them to continue testing this equipment, they need demand to increase to cover the costs involved.