1. Virgin cocktails

Cocktails are always a winner, but on hot summer days non-alcoholic or low-alcohol drinks are so much more refreshing – and you can go back to work after lunch without a hangover. Mixology is getting its flavour on, replacing the alcohol in cocktail recipes with infusions of botanicals, herbs and spices, fruit and flavourings. Recipes can be adapted for those who like their cocktails full fat, and those who like to keep it clean and simple. Mocktails are not necessarily replacing alcoholic drinks though, but offer a whole new revenue stream. Studies show that customers who might have ordered a low-cost water or soft drink, will order a higher-priced mocktail if they’re available on the menu.

  1. Plant-based food

Plant-based eating is the fastest-growing food trend worldwide. It may include meat or flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. Jamie Oliver and Nigel Slater have both recently released plant-based cookbooks, and vegan dishes are now as commonplace on most restaurant menus as Banting and gluten-free options. Many customers who aren’t necessarily vegetarian or vegan enjoy these options too, for health reasons or simple enjoyment of fresh fruit, vegetables and grains.

  1. ‘Meaty’ vegan dishes

Vegans and vegetarians can’t live on sprouts alone. With the growth of vegan eating a host of new products are being developed to give green eaters the ‘meaty’ flavours and mouthfeels and protein-packed substance of meat – in plant form. Almost every meat product you can think of is now available using vegan-friendly plant-based meat substitutes like quorn, soy, tofu etc. – from sausages and burgers to ‘chicken’ nuggets and fish-style fillets. There’s no excuse for short-changing meat-free diners – an eatery that does this particularly well is Lexi’s Healthy Eatery, a plant-based flexitarian restaurant that serves up hearty vegan dishes like their breakfast tofu scramble or hemp burger.

  1. Gin!

The global obsession with gin shows no sign of slowing down.  Everyone is mad about gin: gin and tonic, gin cocktails, botanicals, pink gin, craft gin… To get in on the action, check out these fresh takes on the classic G&T – summer’s most refreshing drinks.  Also have a look at what boutique distillers and others are doing to bring gin to the people in new and exciting ways.  And definitely check out the Sunday Times Lifestyle Gin Awards for South Africa’s top local and international gins.

  1. Ethical fish

Overfishing and depleted populations of once-abundant fish have made it a priority for restaurants and chefs to source sustainable fish and seafood. But supporting local, small-scale fisherman is also an essential part of restocking our oceansl. Luckily there’s an App for that. Chef Kerry Kilpin has pioneered the use of the Abalobi App at Steenberg.