What cocktail concoctions will we find in our glasses this year?
2011 was an exciting year in the world of mixology – the modern-day cocktail movement has upped the liquid ante and increased the quality of libations across the country. And things are about to get more exciting. 2012 will undoubtedly bring a bevy of new drink trends. Some started to become popular in the last year, while others are just on the horizon. Here’s a primer of trends to watch out for in the next 12 months. Drink up!
Last year, mixologists discovered what wine makers have always known – if you stick liquid in a barrel and let it age, it tastes a whole lot better. While the trend started at a few high-end cocktail bars in 2011, we predict that mini wooden barrels will become even more popular in 2012. Tenders mix up a large batch and let it sit for 9 months or so before uncorking it and tasting the result. While the barrel adds a different mix of flavors depending on what type of hooch was used, the results are invariably delicious.
The reign of Angostura as pretty much the only brand of bitters used behind the bar is officially over. Artisinal producers are cooking up new batches of the flavoring agent – and you’re now able to add a few dashes of everything from chocolate to grapefruit bitters to your beverage. Expect even fancier flavors this year. Jalapeño bitters? Yes, please.
There’s a Garden in My Glass
Why use an alcohol that tastes like vegetables or herbs if you could actually use a real vegetable or herb? 2012 will take this trend even further, with bars and restaurants growing their own ingredients on site and muddling them into their beverages. Many restaurants have herb gardens that they use for their menus, so doing the same for their drink lists can’t be far behind.
Artisinal American Spirits
The focus on artisinal and local producers isn’t just limited to the world of food. Last year, small batch producers made even more headway in competing with the giant liquor conglomerates. This year, it is going to be all about hyper-local, American distillers. Small scale distilling is becoming more of a lucrative business as the public’s palate for new flavors grows, and new makers are getting into the game with labels like Breuckelen Gin from Brooklyn, New York. Next time you’re out at the bar, ask what you can drink that’s from nearby.
Beer cocktails are so 2011. The next tasty mixer on the horizon? Sherry. Bartenders have used this fortified wine for some time to concoct really tasty beverages (which aren’t as alcoholic as normal cocktails), but this ingredient has yet to catch on beyond circles of true cocktail geeks. Expect that to change as more drinkers try these nuanced beverages in 2012 and realize that grandma likes her glass of sherry for a reason.