It’s that time of the year when we make a couple of lists and check them twice. This won’t be like David Letterman’s Top 10, more like Five & Five. Five things that inspired us about this past year and five trends we hope either continue into 2015 or simply sail away into the night, never to be heard from again. And because we are fans of all things liquid, this won’t be limited to distilled spirits…
This isn’t a massive recall on flutes as they do have their place in certain venues. Large weddings or other gatherings where the “toast” wine is less than desirable? Check. A French 75 (the delicious cocktail made from Gin and Champagne)? Check. And that’s pretty much where it ends, even the French 75 is better in a coupe. The traditional flute only serves one purpose with sparkling wine and that’s to keep the bubbles intact and flowing. The only problem is that less than half of the sparkling wine produced actually has intense and fine bulles, and while we’re not advocating swirling your bubbles violently like a big tannic red, a small white wine glass is truly the preferred vessel. Remember that 90% of the wine flavor experience is in your nose and a flute isn’t exactly conducive to smelling anything.
We won’t go so far as to say that this delicious and versatile spirit was ever the equivalent of Rodney Dangerfield, but a recent article on PunchDrink.com clearly shows that this is just the beginning of the conversation and classification system. While we don’t expect the Gins of the world to be governed by a system similar to the French AOP or Italian DOP (for wine and other food products), the consumer has so many different choices in multiple different styles. If you’re a London Dry drinker, some of the American Gins that fall into the “New Western” category as defined by Ryan Magarian, co-founder of Aviation in Portland, Oregon, might not be up your alley. If you haven’t had one of these styles, grab something new off the shelf and imbibe…or you can go visit your favorite bartender and ask for a recommendation.
Respect your Elders
Manhattan, Margarita, Mojito, Martini, Martinez? Don’t know the last one off the top of your head? That’s ok, but the first four should be no-brainers. Without trying to find another 5 cocktails that start with the letter ‘M’, let’s talk about the classics. The recipes are pretty standard but it’s always a complete shock when you sit down in a bar, the dinner menu screams “fresh and seasonal”, but the bartender doesn’t want to make a Mojito. We’re not asking you to forage for your own urban mint, but every decent place should have some fresh behind the bar.
Did you just shake that Gin Martini or Manhattan? Put the shaker down and walk away. There is a reason every good cook knows the five French Mother Sauces. When making cocktails the same should apply.
Innovations in Service
If you really want to stay on top of your game in any business, you have to know what’s new. New trends, new products, new restaurants, new everything. We’re not saying you shouldn’t look in the rearview mirror, but living in a bubble is never good. During a conversation with a top-5 bar owner in town about “what’s new”, he referred to some of the most innovative thoughts in how to make the guest’s experience better not by making a tastier cocktail, but how to deliver it to them more efficiently. One of the knocks on the cocktail craze has been the sometimes-painful amount of time it can take for that tasty beverage to land in front of you. So don’t be surprised to see pre-batched cocktails, drinks on draught and even cocktails that have been individually bottled for expeditious service.
It’s coming to your town. Since the title of this forum is “Liquid Intelligence” we’re going to be cautiously optimistic and say that Palcohol won’t ever replace the things we hold dear to our souls. Although the product won’t be released until sometime in 2015, it is already causing controversy in many states where legislators are proposing a ban before it even hits the market. In the spirit of liquid intelligence, we’ll reserve judgment. But riddle me this, Barman, would you actually be able to rim a margarita glass with powdered margarita? Until 2015…Here’s to smarter drinking!