Like it or not, TikTok has changed the way we eat and drink. Whether it’s popularizing cocktails that nobody’s ordered in decades, tinkering with classic builds, or creating completely new ones, “the clock app” has made waves in the bar world for both consumers and for bartenders.
Sometimes, that’s a good thing. (Read: reviving delicious yet near-extinct cocktails). And sometimes, it’s less of a good thing. For the bartender making their eighth cheese-infused Martini of the night, it’s probably the latter.
We asked 10 bartenders across the country to share the worst TikTok trends they’ve contended with behind the bar. Here are the six clear answers that emerged.
The Worst TikTok Trends, According to Bartenders
- Too many “Martinis”
- Flaming cocktails
- Misunderstanding how ice works
- Parmesan-Espresso Martinis
- Negroni Sbagliato
- Overcomplicating the classics
“The use of the word ‘Martini’ is a huge one. We get a ton of people that come in asking what kind of Martinis we have. We don’t want to sound condescending, but a Martini is a Martini. It’s gin or vodka and vermouth and you can change those variables, but that’s what a Martini is.” —Sarah Bartlett, events manager, Nightcap, Ann Arbor, Mich.
“People really want cocktails on fire. And yeah, it’s cool to see, but it’s just a fire, guys. You can do it at home.” —Roberto Cibrian Stockbridge, general manager, Drink, Boston
“I’ve seen people pulling the large ice cubes out of their cocktails and then lamenting the volume of liquid left in their glass. People often overlook that water, whether liquid or frozen, is one of the most important ingredients in every cocktail. … Having those large ice cubes that take up a lot of space in the glass actually prevents you from having a watered-down, unbalanced beverage. We want people to enjoy the drinks we have carefully crafted, and choosing the appropriate size of ice is part of that consideration.” —Lindsay Ogden, beverage manager, Ajja, Raleigh, N.C.
“I think the one I resented the most was when people on TikTok didn’t want large-format ice cubes in stirred drinks, claiming that it was a rip-off because you’re using less booze. It was just so weirdly ignorant. Large ice cubes melt and dilute the drink more slowly than a lot of little ice cubes, giving you more time to enjoy the bite of the spirit that you’re drinking. No one’s trying to rip you off.” —Mary Francis Cheeseman, bartender, Copper Lounge, Albuquerque, N.M
“Espresso Martinis are wonderful. As a bartender, it’s a heavy love-hate relationship. We oftentimes love drinking them, but hate making them — usually four to eight at a clip during the busiest parts of our night. Now we want to add Parmesan to the mix? Get out of my bar. Unnecessary. This trend needs to die out as soon as possible.” —Brenny Savoy, head bartender, Osa, Middletown, Conn.
“All of them. I mean, whatever is trending at the moment on TikTok does get ordered a lot. The influx of Espresso Martinis was a thing a few months ago. There was a little blip of Negroni Spagliatos. There’s nothing wrong with any of these, but the way that TikTok has a hold on the way that people are ordering and enjoying beverages is an interesting phenomenon.” —Matt Owens, co-owner, The Green Room, Omaha, Neb.
“The most memorable TikTok trend is still the Negroni Sbagliato. I’d known that recipe for over a decade, but had never made it. Then, all of a sudden, we sold at least 50. I’m not on TikTok, so I didn’t know what was happening until someone showed me the video.” —Laura Keeler, Water Bear Bar, Boise, Idaho
“While the trending phrase — on Tik Tok and beyond — of ‘riff on a classic’ isn’t necessarily a harmful one, it’s OK to embrace the classics. Not wanting your Negroni to be stirred with sushi rice or your Last Word to have spirulina-infused Luxardo doesn’t make you outdated or un-hip!” —Inés de Haro, bartender, Taco Gordo, Burlington, Vt.
“The idea that more ingredients in a cocktail make it better. A lot of people ignore balance and the basics, and just want a lot of stuff in a drink. That doesn’t always work. Less is more.” —Libby Lingua, co-owner, Highball, Phoenix
“Customer requests are increasingly sillier. Everyone sees themselves as a mixologist without understanding the basic concepts of blending flavors. A good cocktail comes from knowing the basics and understanding flavor, not watching what some ding-dong in suspenders is shaking.” —Julia Gross, bartender, Atla, New York City