Written by Shilo Urban
Cheers to the New Year! 2011 brings a bounty of fun beverage trends to explore and enjoy.
- You've heard it before, and you'll continue to hear it: Green is the new black! In every facet of life, people are turning towards healthier foods and more sustainable choices. The demand for organic beer, wine and spirits continues to grow as more and more people are paying attention to the quality and ingredients of their food and beverage items. Expect to see new organic selections at your supermarket and liquor store shelves, as well as more organic cocktails on menus at bars and restaurants.
- You've probably heard of a sommelier, but have you ever consulted a beermelier? Beer dinners are popping up all over the country, where multiple food courses are paired with different brews. Restaurants are hiring beermeliers to suggest the pairings and answer dinner guests' questions about the beers on hand – which will tend towards the local, organic and handmade.
- Bourbon will continue to grow in popularity, along with orders for other pre-Prohibition era cocktails such as sours, slings and drinks made with bitters. Speak-easy style bars and lounges will be in demand, not only for their cultivated ambiance but also for the classic cocktail recipes they serve.
- Artisan cocktails and drinks in general will be in demand, so keep your eye out for hotshot bartenders who make their own handcrafted bitters and sodas.
- Flavored vodkas will continue to proliferate with wild new taste sensations. Today the shelves of your local liquor store hold vodkas with flavors like bacon, sweet tea, rose, root beer, bubble gum and even bison grass.
- Look for locally-made everything, especially beers and wines but also handcrafted liquors and liqueurs. And look in the mirror – you might be the one creating your very own pumpernickel-rose vodka! With the rise of the popularity of cocooning (also known as: chillin') at home, interest in cooking, baking and making has gone up.
- Making your own flavored vodka is as easy as it gets. Check out this recipe for celery and lime vodka – perfect for a Bloody Mary on Sunday afternoon: Combine 1 ½ cups vodka (we'll help you pick the best organic vodkas here), ½ celery stalk, 2 celery leaves and two thin lime slices in an airtight container. Infuse for two days in a dark place, and consume within one month.
- Bloody Marys are a great example of another trend: culinary cocktails. Ingredients have hopped from the dinner table to the cocktail shaker, influenced by our increasingly global community and by the fact that they're absolutely delicious. Look for flavors of jalapeno, ginger, miso, mustard, sage, cucumber and hickory to come busting out of your glass in 2011.
- Need a little boost yourself? Despite the fact that Four Loko "funeral" parties were held around the country, alcoholic energy drinks are not going to disappear. Watch for new products that combine caffeine and other energy-boosting supplements with alcohol, and look for the price of a Red Bull and vodka at the bar to continue to rise.
- And finally, does a cocktail a day keep the doctor away? Expect to see more "healthy" cocktails on menus, which are alcoholic drinks prepared with nutrient-rich ingredients and herbal infusions. Healing with a hangover, "healthy" cocktails are made with the so-called superfoods such as açai, pomegranate and goji, sweetened with alternative sweeteners like stevia or cane sugar and with muddled herbs for what ails you.