It’s the end of the year, and everyone is making their drink predictions. Last year, I made food predictions, of which one-third came true… which is enough to have merited me the title of a prophet back in the day. While I still think kumquats are due for their time in the spotlight (man, I love those things), I’m ready to get even more right this year with the eight top spirits predictions for 2015.
Bitters are delicious, but many restaurants still aren’t highlighting them on their menus yet. I predict that 2015 will be the year that restaurants finally start adding “flavor boosts” to their menus in the form of a la carte bitters. With these, guests would be able to order a Manhattan (for instance), and add extra lemon bitters to their glass—making drinks ordering akin to Starbucks ordering.
More Grain Whiskeys
If 2014 was the rise of rye whiskey, what’s next? Quinoa whiskey? Spelt whiskey? In 2015, we’ll certainly be seeing more grains becoming whiskeys, starting in California craft distilleries.
Speaking of craft distilleries, there will certainly be more of those on the horizon. Though craft beers continue to eclipse the big breweries in terms of overall sales, America’s beer drinking has dipped recently, and I think that trend is due to the many craft distilleries popping up around the country. Craft distilleries are adding bold, new flavors to the alcohol we drink—and I think that as more distilleries open up, spirits will become the new go-to drink of choice.
Another factor that will increase spirits orders at your restaurant, is that of the highly talented bartender. Successful restaurants no longer employ hack bartenders who need to reference their Mr. Boston book to make a G&T, now the bartender standard is a friendly and outgoing drinks expert, with a lot of well-developed opinions about his or her craft.
And yeah, these new bartenders dislike sweet and sour (just like the rest of us). So another prediction I have is that bartenders will start crafting homemade mixers to accompany their drinks. Because really, who wants to mess up a great Bloody Mary by pairing Grey Goose with a nasty, corn-syrup-laden mix?
Here’s a prediction I’m really hoping for: the rise of session spirits. Okay, it seems like a misnomer. I mean, after all, spirits are distilled. They’re high in alcohol. However, that being said, I appreciate the swing in the craft beer world toward those easy drinking brews called “session” beers. These beers encourage friends to hang out at their bar, brewery, or restaurant longer (ordering more food all the while), but don’t dampen the interesting conversation. If cocktails can reflect that trend toward a lower ABV, yet maintain their alcohol flavor, I think session drinks will revolutionize the cocktail scene.
Another upcoming 2015 trend inspired by breweries and wineries, is the locavore trend. Farm-to-table is becoming increasingly more popular with the foodie crowd and in the beer world, and many hipsters have started clamoring for sustainable, local drinks to pair with their sustainable, local meals. I predict that 2015 will be the year that restaurants and craft distilleries pair up to offer fantastic menus that reflect the local flavor of their own regions.
iPad Menu Apps
My final prediction for 2015 is that more restaurants will start using iPad menu apps. I mean, we all know that those things are cool, right? They make menu updates a snap, they make it easy for your guests to confidently order food and drinks using the encyclopedic knowledge they gain from a well-crafted app… I’m telling you: iPad menu apps will be the new, must-have restaurant addition for 2015. Hey, come to think of it, I know of a great iPad menu app that’s really popular (wink-wink, nudge-nudge).
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