Sour T-iesel cocktail, made with non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD, at Gracias Madre in Los Angeles (image: Jakob N. Layman)
It’s time to peer into the crystal ball and think about what we might find in our glasses in 2017. After a tumultuous 2016, here’s a look at some developments likely to unwind in the year ahead.
1. The centers of cocktail creativity will shift
Sure, we’ll always have Manhattan, San Francisco and Chicago. But keep an eye on Brooklyn, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Charleston, San Diego and Houston—pretty much anywhere rents are cheaper and thirsty young people are flocking.
2. Bar menus and concepts are here today and gone tomorrow
Bars are changing up menus on the regular (thinkTrick Dog andPouring Ribbons); some are changing the entire bar concept (Counter Intuitive, which changes its theme and decor three times a year). It’s all about keeping people coming back for the latest and greatest.
3. Forget “coffee cocktails”
Peeking over the horizon, you’ll see vodkas (like Death Wish) and whiskeys (like Fliquor Bean) bottled with cold-brew coffee as part of the mix. No, not infused spirits—almost a prefab cocktail in a bottle.
Sazerac Sno-Cone at Mabel’s BBQ in Cleveland (image: Taxel Image Group)
4. Frozen drinks will go high-end
It started with frosé and will pick up speed this summer.
5. Consolidation in the spirits space will continue
Americans are consuming more tequila than ever before (according to theDistilled Spirits Council of the United States, it’s one of the fastest-growing categories, after whiskey). Expect the trend to be driven by high-end aged tequilas and more tequila-based cocktails. The growth in tequila may also help boost other agave-based spirits.
Bottled RTDs used to be awful, but they’re about to get more respect. Ironically, bartenders will drive the trend to have you drinking better at home. Think about pioneers like Charles Joly (Crafthouse Cocktails) and barman turned distiller Allen Katz (who bottled Rock & Rye at Brooklyn’sNew York Distilling Company and worked with comedian/actress Aisha Tyler on her newCourage + Stone cocktail line). More bartenders are quietly working on bottled cocktail lines (but we can’t name names just yet, sorry).