Friday, January 3, 2014

Trends for 2014, What are we in store for...

In an industry that can evolve very slowly, the past few years have seen a number of explosive changes that have really kept us on our toes. We sometimes joke about how global warming has given us vintage after vintage of good wines from almost every wine growing region in the world, but that is just the tip of the proverbial disappearing iceberg.

The beer industry, in the past decade, has been evolving so quickly that it really is difficult to keep up with it. Classic styles blended with new techniques, hops, barrels and the brewers own artistry, have consumers' heads spinning with opportunity and styles. Couple that with the local movement and you see influences from all over the country and the world giving rise to even more choices. Being the troopers that they are, Renzo and Alex have sacrificed themselves and have popped open bottle after bottle to find the best stuff in the market and share them with the growing legions of interested customers.

Another fast changing sector of the market is "Brown" liquor. Bourbon, Rye, and Scotch are back in full force and just like the beer world, the artists, aka distillers are using classic recipes and new techniques, along with Port, Sherry and other types of barrels to send consumers in many different directions. Ten years ago the Bourbon world was barely keeping its head above water and there were only a handful of big brands that were readily recognizable like Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, and a few others. Rye was really all but done and my generation wasn't helping their cause. I had a friend that drank Jack and Coke and another whose choice was seven and seven, but for the most part we were a Vodka generation.

More recently the mixologists in NY have been playing with the classic recipes like Manhattans, Old Fashions, and Side Cars... they are using more artisinal products and recreating these forgotten gems. The 25 to 40 year old crowd is flocking to bars that are popping up all over to (re)try these long shelved cocktails. In turn, our shelves are constantly being restocked in the sections that were gathering dust a few short years ago. Rye, Bourbon, and Scotch have been given new life and their space on the "liquor wall" at our store continues to flex its muscle pushing things like Schnapps and low-end cordials to the low and corner shelves.

So what is next?

With the emergence of places like Bodega and the iminent opening of Geronimos right next door to us, Tequila (real Tequila) seems to be an obvious choice. The past couple of years has seen the bar raised from Cuervo to craft producers of 100% Agave Tequila and they have figured out that the type of barrel that is used to create their products can give them nearly as much personality as the brown liquors. Gone are the requests for Margarita mix, and those requests are now for the simple and fresh ingredients that make those cocktails so refreshing and delicious.

Also poised for dramatic growth are Gin and Rum. The classic dry Gin is being looked at again and so are its botanically enhanced brothers. There are a good many producers that are using more than just Juniper to add layers of flavor to their products. Cardoman, Corriander, Lemon Zest, Fennel and many more zippy "botanicals" are adding layers of flavor and interest. Rum is also on the rise as smaller producers continue to raise the bar on their quality of production, and cocktails like Dark and Stormys emerge and add interest to the category.

Finally, let's not forget about bitters as the new year begins. While winter is really just kicking in and things like Campari and Aperol aren't particularly relevant right now, they will be continuing to gain in popularity again after the cold has run its course. For now, experimenting with the brown stuff will keep you warmer in the next few months and we usually have a few things tucked away for your sampling pleasure. Stop in and grab Patrick, Renzo or our newest convert, Greg, and ask us what is exciting in the realm of Bourbon, Rye, and Scotch and you are likely to find a willing host and guide to your adventure.


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