Everybody likes predictions — especially when the predictor gets things horribly wrong and looks like a dolt. So here are my predictions for the spirituous world in 2013. Bookmark this page so you can come back in a year and see how I did.
An end to whiskey insanity:
The past few years have been crazy ones for the whiskey business. Prices are climbing steadily, yet a shortage of older whiskey remains. More and more rare expressions are hitting the market and there seems to be no ceiling on the demand for them — or the prices they fetch. Bourbons like Van Winkle and the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection have become almost impossible to find. Can all of this continue? I doubt it. Consumer trends are nearly always cyclical and there's no reason to think that whiskey will be any different. Eventually things will settle down and return to a more normal state of affairs. It might as well be this year.
Less complicated cocktails:
When the craft cocktail revolution hit full flower, things got a little out of hand. Cocktails with seven ingredients, two of which had to be made from scratch and one that cost $100 an ounce. Did these drinks really taste good enough to justify all the fuss and expense? Probably not. I think we'll see more normalcy coming to our mixology. Skilled bartenders are still going to make great drinks with delicious and unexpected flavors. They're just going to do so without the extra layer of nonsense.
The year for mezcal:
We all know how popular tequila is. But what about mezcal? Tequila's agave cousin from southern Mexico is poised to break through to a larger audience — and this just might be the year it happens. Look for more brands and expressions to hit the shelves. And give one a try.
More wine in cocktails:
We've been seeing this trend picking up steam the last year or two, and I think it's ready to go mainstream. Cocktails with port and sherry especially are going to start popping up everywhere.
Skinny is the new fat:
Although the merits of the "skinny" trend are debatable, it's not going anywhere. Skinny spirits, skinny wine, skinny cocktails — you're going to see plenty of them this year.
It's been years since Alice Waters began her push to encourage people to eat local. In 2013 we're going to see this trend really start to assert itself in the cocktail and spirits world. Fresh, local ingredients in cocktails, accompanied by regionally-made booze, will continue to grow. People want to know where the stuff in their drinks is coming from, and this desire to drink local will help support the growing craft spirits movement.
Carbonated cocktails have been featured in recent years in several of the high-end cocktail bars — especially when wizards like Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Jamie Boudreau are behind the stick. But now we're going to see booze that comes with the carbonation right in the bottle. Prevu and Nuvo are at the leading edge of this trend.
What do you foresee on the horizon? Anything you're excited or horrified about?