Escapism was the name of the game in 2017, as the drinks world brought us colorful unicorn drinks, Tiki galore and pop culture themes at bars. To be fair, we needed the break more than ever this past year, as we collectively fretted about politics, catastrophic weather events and more. Here’s a look back at how we drank in 2017, as we prepare to close out the year.
Chicago’s Lost Lake and NOLA’s Latitude 29 continue to pack them in. Even Coachella had a secret Tiki bar. And Martin Cate’s “Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki” (Ten Speed Press, $30) swept every major cocktail book award in 2017.
Who knows if it will last, but 2017 brought plenty of talk about zero-waste bars and plans to ditch the straws to save the sea turtles. A year-long Trash Tiki tour helped elevate the idea of drinks made with upcycled ingredients, and some bars pledged to add sustainably styled cocktails to regular menus.
And if low-ABV wasn’t enough, no-ABV drinks waited in the wings. Adding to the ongoing popularity of mocktails, the U.K.’s Seedlip debuted in the U.S. this year, billed as a “nonalcoholic distillate.” With liquor giant Diageo holding an investment stake in the company, expect to hear more noise about this brand in 2018.
Cocktail bars including Attaboy, Employees Only, Broken Shaker and even fancy cocktail haven The Aviary / The Office in Chicago opened additional venues in various cities away from their home bases, while a vast number of other bars took to the road to operate temporary pop-up bars across the country.
Cocktail bars brought back fun, often emphasizing elements beyond what’s in the glass. Themes were hugely popular. Think vinyl record bars, bar-arcades and pop culture bars, like the hugely successful temporary “Game of Thrones” bar in D.C. or a “Stranger Things”–themed bar in Chicago (both by Drink Company).