The Lakehouse at W Bellevue

In 2018, hotel bar patrons swallowed everything from cocktails infused with veggie juices (or breakfast cereals) to ferments of every stripe (think shrubs to kimchee) and honey from rooftop hives. And, of course, we Instagrammed them all.

What can groups expect from F&B in the new year? We’ve culled the prognostications, and here are the top picks.

Local and Immersive

No big surprise, but hotels will double-down on bringing local culture to the ballrooms and conference centers, in everything from pop-up action stations and food trucks to curated experiences led by local chefs and producers. That’s the word from Lodging magazine.

Say Hi to Hal

It was a hot button in last year’s strikes against hotel companies in several major U.S. cities, but, ready or not, automation is already here in hospitality. In F&B, an increasing number of beta sites are being closely watched, says food and restaurant consultant Michael Whiteman. He cites Cafe X, a robotic sidewalk coffee monger in San Francisco’s financial district (it’s mechanical arm even waves goodbye) and Spyce, a Boston startup affiliated with celeb chefs Daniel Boulud, Gavin Kaysen and Thomas Keller, that’s mostly automated.

Pucker Up

Whiteman also predicts sour will have its moment. Chefs will be borrowing from Korean, Filipino and Persian flavor profiles to use vinegars in braised dishes, marinades and dipping sauces, as well as ingredients such as sour oranges, tamarind and dried sour plums.

Decor Clash Is In

It’s been happening in the clothing fashion world, and now it’s going to spread to your local hotel dining room, especially if it caters to millennials and other hipsters. We’re talking “clashing patterns on patterns on patterns,” Whiteman says. “Of course, this being fashion, the entire notion could disappear with the next issue of Harper’s Bazaar.”

And Then There’s…

The oat milk craze…fancy no-alcohol cocktails at martini prices…pour-you-own beer systems…and floral infusions in water dispensers.

Share your hot F&B at #MeetSmart!