8 Trends That Defined Drinking in 2016

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Drinks on tap, including pre-batched cocktails at NYC’s Yours Sincerely, were de rigueur.

Looking back, 2016 was a real roller coaster, wasn’t it? Leaving politics aside for the moment (gonna need a stiff drink to discuss that election, my friend), here’s a rundown of some of the spirits and cocktail trends that shaped 2016. (And check out predictions of what 2017 might bring.)

1. Economic sustainability efforts in bars continued to attract attention.

This was driven in large part by London’s “zero waste” bar White Lyan and offbeat offshoot Trash Tiki.

2. We got ready to drink up—at home.

Following in the footsteps of popular meal-prep kits, ready-to-assemble cocktail kits boomed in 2016. Apps and online services for booze delivery also surged. Even Amazon Prime Now got in on the act.

3. Losing beloved rock stars was soul-crushing.

But on the upside, the multitude of cocktails inspired by David Bowie and Prince helped take the edge off while we kept our favorite tracks on permanent replay.

4. Vodka was de-vilified.

Watershed moment: Death & Co. (aka “we don’t carry vodka”) celebrated its 10th anniversary by rolling out a new menu that for the first time in the bar’s history included a vodka cocktail (the Kissy Suzuki, made with Mizu Lemongrass shochu, St. George vodka, Cocchi Americano, kirsch, maraschino liqueur, absinthe and orange bitters).

5. Frosé (frozen drinks made with rosé wine and often lemonade) was the runaway drink of summer 2016.

Expect more slushy sippers for spring/summer 2017. (You’ve been warned!)

Pre-batched cocktails on tap at NYC’s Yours Sincerely

6. If it could be served on tap, it was.

Beer, wine, cold-brew coffee and, yes, pre-batched cocktails galore.

7. Restaurateurs paid more attention to cocktails.

Porchlight, the first cocktail bar from Danny Meyer, kicked it off in New York City in late 2015, joined in 2016 by The Stinger (the first cocktail bar from Todd English) and fancy Fowler & Wells (from Tom Colicchio, though to be fair, his restaurants usually have strong cocktail programs).

(image: kvkirillov)

8. Rye whiskey continued its astounding ascent.

Younger drinkers are flocking to rye. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States even released a study showing that rye sales had skyrocketed 500 percent (!!) during the last five years. One reason behind the rye boom: more—and more interesting—rye bottlings are coming out.

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