Top Drink Trend Predictions For 2012

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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.

6. Rise of Prosecco and Other Alternative Sparkling Wines

Instead of high-priced Champagnes, consumers seem to be favoring other sparkling wines, prosecco in particular, for being an affordable but still high-quality alternative.


7. Revenge of the "Oddball" Varieties

The Daily Meal's editorial director, Colman Andrews, suspects that "oddball" grape varieties (like assyrtiko, mencia, petit verdot, and pinotage) will gain more familiarity among consumers. And what's more, that many good, well-priced wines from Spanish wine regions previously unknown to Americans (Calatyud, Cariñena, Ribeiro, Jumilla) will become more widely available.


8. Colorization of IPAs

Craft beer expert Josh Bernstein, author of the recently published Brewed Awakening, singled out the colorization of IPAs as being a recent trend in the craft beer movement. "I think it really speaks to the popularity of the style," he said. "Normally they're a kind of reddish-golden color, but now you're seeing everything from white, hoppy wheat beers to black IPAs that have a dark tint but still drink light."


9. "Session" Beer Success

Suds experts like Michael Roper of The Hopleaf in Chicago predict that low-alcohol "session" beers are going to get more attention next year, favored for their high flavor and easy drinkability.


10. More Juice Bars

When Starbucks announced last month that it had acquired West Coast-based premium juice brand Evolution Fresh Inc. and was planning to launch an entirely new chain of juice bars, it was clear that juice bars were going to have a big moment in 2012.


11. Even More Intense Coffee Talk

If you don't yet philosophize about your morning cup, rhapsodize about the bean's terroir, and travel with your own pour-over, you might want to consider jumping on the bandwagon this year because the talk is only going to more intense.