Five Drink Predictions for 2011

It is that time of year where people like to predict what’s going to happen in the near future. And since I’ve been jumping on a number of bandwagons lately, why stop. Most of my predictions are less Nostradamus prophecy and more progressive thinking about where drinks are going. Or more likely, where I’d like drink trends to go. Feel free to opine about what you think the coming year holds for the drinking world.

1. Bitters

The juggernaut that is bitters will continue unabated. At the very least more bartenders will accept that bitters go into a Manhattan.

There are now dozens of new bitter formulations on the market, making Angostura look downright utilitarian. And with the continued growth of quality cocktails, so goes the growth of bitters. The two are inexplicably linked.

Bitters seems to be the defining ingredients for the professional bartender.

2. Punch

Anytime Ted Haigh, Jeff “;Beachbum” Berry or David Wondrich write a book, you know that immediately following the publish date a drink trend begins. With Dave’s new book Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl, the personal ladle will become the new must have device for party goers.

3. Bartenders go back to their roots

I think the days of pretentious bartending are coming to a close. It was a necessary evil for a period of time, which helped renew the concept that bartending can be a genuine profession. Most bartenders that I know would prefer to be easy-going, competent and accommodating. So what if someone orders a Cosmopolitan? A real bartender isn’t defined by someone’s drink order but by how they treat the customer.

I think the next stage of bartending will be taking a more educational approach to customers. Give them what they want to start and then use that to introduce them to what great cocktails are, instead of pissing them off by refusing to make a particular drink.

4. Blogger Renewal

A lot of cocktail blogs are on “death watch” but like life, it’s a natural cycle. Many of the early bloggers have used their blogs to vault themselves into new careers, enhance their status or get enough free booze mail to last at least a year. Their early efforts have been rewarded and the blog no-longer serves a purpose. In some cases it almost seems like the blog has become a burden, like a sick dog that the owner refuses to put out of its misery for emotional reasons or the hope that someday things will get better.

Regardless, blogs come and go. Currently the number of cocktail and spirit blogs is easily over 100 and probably approaching 200 with no foreseeable end to their growth. Many of these new blogs are helping to promote better drinking, and we should thank them for that.

5. Soda Fountains

Not surprisingly, I think soda drinks are going to start making a moderate come back. Almost all major drink categories (wine, beer and spirits) have made significant inroads into the premium category but soda-pop is still languishing behind. There does seem to be a growing interest in making new and unique soda drinks though. For example the Franklin Fountain in Philadelphia is bringing back the traditional soda fountain, much like bartenders brought back the classic bar and PandH Soda Company is making classic soda syrups. Others, like Anvil in Houston, are using old soda fountain ingredients to make some creative cocktails.

With the ebook version of Fix the Pumps published just over a year ago and the print version just over six months, I intend to continue mixing the world of soda fountains with cocktails.

Having written about drinks for over five years, I’d have to say things look pretty bright compared to what they were when I started Art of Drink. What do you think?

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