Sat, Feb 03, 2018 - Page 13 News List

What we’ll sip this year

Goodbye to fussy concoctions and long waits: new drinks trends are all about convenience

By Chad Parkhill  /  The Guardian

Burnt grapes are seen at a vineyard during a forest fire in the town of Cauquenes in the Maule region, Chile.

Photo: Reuters

Last year was one in which drinkers around the world broadened their palates and outlooks, and tired old certainties were cast aside in favor of exploration and reconsideration. This year looks set to be even better. Here are three trends that I predict will shape what we will drink over the course of 2018.

HAPPY HOUR GETS HAPPIER

Last year, Australian expat bartender Sam Ross threw a large batch of his Penicillin cocktail — possibly the most successful modern classic cocktail to emerge since the Cosmopolitan — into a slushie machine to create the “Penichillin” for his bar, Diamond Reef. No moment could better exemplify the recent turn towards fun in the drinks world — a very serious drink, born in the fussy, genteel and rule-loving bar Milk and Honey, had suddenly been reborn as a party animal, ready to be dispensed with the flick of a plastic tap.

One of the easiest ways to signal your bar’s fun-loving nature is to offer a series of goofy disco drinks rehabilitated with craft cocktail techniques. Already a number of high-profile bartenders have set out to revive drinks such as the grasshopper, the amaretto sour, the pina colada and the stinger by rejigging proportions and focusing on quality ingredients. My money’s on the Japanese slipper and the Long Island iced tea to be next. Similarly, once-derided ingredients will likely have a moment in the sun this year: Jagermeister, Goldschlager, Southern Comfort (especially now it is once again made with whiskey) and even creme de menthe will stage modest comebacks.

If you want to take a little slice of drinking fun and bring it home, consider whipping up a planter’s punch (a cocktail I had high hopes for in last year’s drinks predictions).

CLIMATE CHANGES THE WINE MAP

No image from last year underscores the threat of climate change to good drinking more than the wildfires that devastated California’s wine country. Wine is, of course, an agricultural product first and foremost — to make wine, grapes have to be grown, and some parts of the world are better suited to that than others. But the planet’s changing climate is rapidly redrawing the map of what grows well where, with troubling consequences for wine lovers.

There is a very small silver lining to climate change, at least as far as wines are concerned: it opens up new areas to grape growing. The recent surge of interest in English sparkling wine has been driven by rapidly growing quality — and climate change has had a role to play there by bringing warmer weather and increased ripeness and yields.

Similarly, grapes are now being grown as far north as Sweden, and things are looking pretty rosy in the immediate future for places such as Nova Scotia .

Wine lovers can’t become complacent, though. While winemakers are looking to technological and scientific advances to help mitigate the negative effects of increased ripeness levels in their wines, as well as planting grape varieties that better suit hotter and drier growing regions, a crisis still looms. Climate change wreaks havoc on established weather patterns, bringing rain and cold at unexpected times and heat and drought at others. This is disastrous for grapes, which means there’s no happy ending for wine in a warming world.

NEED FOR SPEED

The days of having to wait 12 minutes for a meticulously prepared cocktail made by a dude in suspenders and a waxed mustache are, mercifully, over. We can chalk this one up to the continuing success of the craft cocktail movement — where once a certain amount of nerdy rigamarole behind the bar was required to justify the comparatively steep price of mixed drinks made with care and attention, now bar-goers are aware it’s perfectly possible to get a great drink within a few moments of ordering it and are willing to pay for the privilege.

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