Speculating what the presiding beverage illuminati might have in store for us in the coming year can feel futile and frustrating. That glass-like sphere at the bottom of your cocktail is no crystal ball, my friend, it's just a really good-looking piece of craft ice, and that says more about 2011 than it does 2012.
But, what the heck, how about we order another drink and pretend that it is? Here's a look at what we anticipate from the worlds of wine, beer, spirits, coffee, and nightlife in the new year.
1. Cocktails on Tap
Sorry to break it to you beer geeks, authorities seem to be in agreement that in 2012, taps are going to be getting more of the cocktail treatment. Ahead-of-the-curve bars from coast to coast (Jasper's Corner in San Francisco, Amor y Amargo in New York City), have started offering batch-made cocktails served from kegs instead of mixing to order.
2. More Housemade Behind-the-Bar Ingredients
Don't expect housemade liquor infusions, sodas, and bitters to lose their spot at the bar anytime soon. Bitters author and cocktail enthusiast Brad Thomas Parsons also recently commented, "I've seen a lot about drinking vinegars and shrubs, it brings a nice acid and sweetness to a drink." And don't be too surprised if you notice some trendy bars making their own, unique branded spirits, as well (the newly opened Saxon & Parole in New York City has their own whiskey, Parole).
3. Loca-drinking: Wine, Spirits, & Beer
Just as our friends in the food world continue to devour all-things-local, so too those in the beverage world. Expect to see more locally made small batch spirits, microbrewed beers, and American wines from lesser-known regions like Michigan, Texas, and Virginia.
4. Serious Bars That Don't Take Themselves Too Seriously
Bartenders (not mixologists, or bar-chefs, thank you very much) are proving that great drinks can be served without a splash of pretention. As cocktail authority David Wondrich recently put it to Nation's Restaurant News, "The biggest trend I see is bringing mixology down to the fun/dive-bar level."
5. Make Room for Moscato
Food & Wine's executive wine editor Ray Isle noted that American-made Moscato has been on the rise in recent years and that now, the big-name brands are rushing to jump in on the trend. Slightly sweet, light, and very approachable, he stated in an interview with Fox Business that some people have talked about it like it's the next white zinfandel.