2012 In Review: The Year In Cocktails, Bar Trends, New Booze And Looking Ahead
FR contributors weigh-in on spirited topics
The Internet is in the midst of year-end list madness. There’s even a great blog that makes lists of lists. Let us prolong the season a bit here, where Food Republic contributors weigh-in on the year in booze and mixology.
Brian Quinn | Cocktail Of The Week columnist
Favorite new bar: Pouring Ribbons, The Shanty, Middle Branch
Favorite new product discovery: NY Distilling Company Dorothy Parker Gin and Bittermen's New Orleans Coffee Liqueur
Best trend of 2012: Bottled cocktails
Worst trend of 2012: Bone luge
Favorite cocktail recipe discovery: St. Germain Cocktail (Savoy Cocktail Book). Basically a Chartreuse sour.
What will you be drinking on New Year's Eve? A bottle of red from Burgundy
What do you hope will happen in the cocktail scene in 2013? Consumers will increasingly educate themselves on the craft and demand higher levels of cocktail service all around the country, allowing some of the best bars and bartenders in major cities to grow and set up more outposts in other markets.
Chantal Martineau | Writer
Favorite new bar: I love Joaquim Simo's Pouring Ribbons in New York’s East Village. It's just a solid, no-nonsense bar making good, straightforward drinks. It’s a cocktail bar for grownups, even on a Saturday night. I also like Tooker Alley, opened by a guy called Del Pedro not too far from my house in Brooklyn. It’s part beer-and-a-shot place, part geeky cocktail lounge. The menu includes a section dedicated to martini variations meant to show how the drink has evolved over time.
Favorite new product discovery: New York Distilling Company's Perry's Tot Navy Strength Gin is one of several high-proof gins to come out. I’m a big fan of overproof spirits. I believe alcohol, like fat, is a flavor conductor. This gin is full of flavor and packs a wallop. I like my martinis 50/50 so a robust gin makes for a nice balance. The Wahaka line of mezcales is impressive, from the Tobala blanco to the reposado “con gusano.” I’ve always heard (and repeated) that the worm in a bottle of mezcal is a tourist gimmick. But Wahaka says it organically filters the spirit and enhances the flavor. Maybe I’m just drinking the Kool-Aid, but I believe it.
Best trend of 2012: Drinks on tap, from Manhattans to Fernet. (If only because you can get a good drink faster.)
Worst trend of 2012: Ah, so many…the bone luge? I’m also kinda over barrel-aged cocktails, carbonated cocktails (Theo Lieberman’s fizzy Negroni is great – can’t we just leave it at that?) and anything else that I have a hard time listening to myself explain to my mom. And, on the commercial side, not to sound like the Times panning Guy Fieri, but enough with the vodka-wine fusions. Absolut Tune, I’m looking at you.
Favorite cocktail recipe discovery: It’s not exactly a discovery, but I went a little nuts on Aperol this year. Aperol spritzes, Negroni riffs, Americano variations. I thought it would end after the summer, but it didn’t. And does this count? I found a use for all that vodka I never drink. Homemade air freshener: 1 oz. vodka, 1 oz. distilled water, 20 drops of your favorite essential oil.
What will you be drinking on New Year's Eve? I’ll be in Hanoi, so I have no idea. Hopefully not snake blood.
What do you hope will happen in the cocktail scene in 2013? Can’t wait for the next overproof spirit boom…tequila, maybe? I also hope that, aside from a few that specialize in this sort of thing, bars continue to move away from convoluted 12-ingredient drinks. It takes just as much skill and creativity to come up with a three- to five-ingredient cocktail that wows – if not more. No truffle-infused, foie gras-washed, Malbec syrup-sweetened concoction will ever be destined for greatness.
Simon Ford | Drink Ford Tough columnist
Favorite new bar: Pouring Ribbons. There is so much talent behind one bar. It reminds me of when Pegu Club and Death and Co. both opened.
Favorite new product discovery: Dorothy Parkers Gin and Brooklyn Hemispherical Mission Black Fig Bitters (and Fords Gin, Tequila Cabeza and Cana Brava Rum).
Best Trend of 2012: The bottled cocktail club at Saxon & Parole and the return of people ordering martinis correctly, with the bartenders giving them all the options of what's available (choice of vermouth, gin and garnishes as well as ratio of vermouth to gin. etc).
Worst Trend of 2012: The ever continuing stream of silly vodka flavors, especially ones flavored of cakes and whipped cream.
What will you be drinking on New Year's Eve? Krug Champagne and cocktails made by Sammy Ross of Milk & Honey (especially The Penicillin)
What do you hope will happen in the cocktail scene in 2013? 2013 will be the year of Milk & Honey. In 2000 a small bar opened on Eldridge Street in downtown Manhattan and it inspired the entire global cocktail movement. This December it will be moving to a new, and slightly larger, location where it will continue to be a focal point and inspiration to cocktail fanatics from all over the world. In 2013, I would like to see the return of the Champagne cocktail. They are pretty decadent but there are some great classics and they always add that extra dazzle to a shaken sour.
Matt Rodbard | Food Republic Contributing Editor
Favorite new bar: Lavender Lake in Brooklyn, The Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar in London. And about Pouring Ribbons, which I am including (that is 4/4 here if you are counting). It’s a really special place, operating with roughly two-times the normal staff, an innovative menu concept (a four-quadrant matrix charting each drink in categories: Refreshing, spirituous, comforting, adventurous), a vintage Chartreuse collection (who does that?) and wonderful attention to detail. A good first couple of months for those guys.
Favorite new product discovery: House Spirits Coffee Liqueur. Made with Stumptown beans. Subtle, which is something you can’t say about most of the coffee booze available.
Best trend of 2012: The amount of high-quality small-batch gin available in the States (and London of course) makes me think gin drinks will be on the rise in the coming years. I tried Brooklyn gin last week. It was great. Bars are also starting to get hip to the importance of hand-crafted ice.
Worst trend of 2012: $20 barrel-aged cocktails are novel, and a nice way to make a little extra scratch for the bar owner, but by nature they are way too inconsistent. I’ll look for a $20 thrill elsewhere. $18 white whiskey cocktails make me mad. Also, people need to stop fucking with the Negroni.
Favorite cocktail recipe discovery: Pisco punch (NYE 2011), the Siesta from Jim Meehan’s PDT book: Tequila, Campari, lime and grapefruit juice. I made a blended version at the beach.
What will you be drinking on New Year's Eve? Pisco punch, American bubbles, bourbon late.
What do you hope will happen in the cocktail scene in 2013? The popularity of Asian cuisine in the States will transition into the drinking scene (and not just by subbing in Mekhong Rum). Maybe some craft distilling will emerge from places like Thailand and Vietnam? Chicago will win a major award. More bars like Pouring Ribbons.