Behind the Bar: Drinking in 2014

To find out what you’ll be drinking this year, we asked bartending legend and Liquor.com advisory board member Dale DeGroff to share with us the biggest cocktail trends he’s forecasting for 2014. Here’s what he’s predicting. Cheers!

FLAVOR FATIGUE:

2013 might have been the year of the flavored spirit. There are literally hundreds of flavored spirits and even more in the works. (Not to mention a rash of bars serving bacon-flavored and -infused booze. Care for a bacon chocolate Martini?) I have to admit, my heart sank when tequila fell prey to this trend. I hoped for some restraint in the agave category, but just Google “flavored tequila,” and you’ll weep. Then I tasted Avión Espresso Tequila, and life was good again. That is until I saw the recipe for a concoction called Red Hot Saturday Mix calling for sweet and sour mix, flavored tequila, grenadine and triple sec. All that sweetness with nothing to balance it! Listen, this is all good clean fun, but the market will sort things out in the end.

THE FIFTH TASTE:

Oh mama, it’s umami! Make way for the fifth taste, savory, which is breaking down cocktail barriers. For example, the charming Colin Field, head bartender at Paris’ famed Hemingway Bar in The Ritz, popularized an Italian Martini, which is made with olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese. He’s not alone. I’m seeing more drinks utilizing umami-heavy tomatoes and even soy sauce. As for Colin, he has another year of exile before The Ritz finishes its extensive renovation.

THE ART OF ARTISANAL:

Distributors, liquor stores and bars are all expanding their artisanal-spirits selections. In New York one store, Whiskey & Wine Off 69, has even gone locavore, dedicating several shelves to locally made spirits.

White dog (new make spirit), rum and vodka are still the leaders in the craft-spirits world, but that’s changing, with more and more gin being produced. My fellow Liquor.com advisory board members Allen Katz of The New York Distilling Company and spirits author David Wondrich even collaborated to recreate a colonial gin from an 1809 recipe. Their Chief Gowanus New-Netherland Gin is distilled from a base of rye, hops and juniper berries.

KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID:

For years, cocktail ingredient lists were growing to outrageous lengths. Fortunately, many craft-cocktail bartenders are paring down recipes to include only things that actually contribute to the balance and the flavor of a drink. This trend will lead to the creation of new classic cocktails that future generations will look back on as gems from the Second Golden Age of the Cocktail.

Master mixologist Dale DeGroff is the author of The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail. He is also a Liquor.com advisory board member.

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Comments

  1. Have you tasted the Chief Gowanus New Netherland gin?
    We have a bottle and don’t know what to do with it, because, frankly speaking, it tastes a lot like water directly from today’s Gowanus canal. It seems to hate Vermouth. A Gowanus Martinez? Not the best.
    It must be good in some cocktail but we haven’t found one yet. Any suggestions would be most welcome!

    • Chief Gowanus is very different from most gins out there—its base is rye whiskey rather than a neutral spirit, and it’s also barrel-aged—so it’s not really meant to replace standard gin in cocktail recipes. You might try it in place of Bols Genever, which is more similar to Chief Gowanus than most London dry gins. Try one of the recipes here: http://liquor.com/brands/bols-genever/.

  2. Chief Go-anus might be the worst name since Ivanabitch vodka. Or am I putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable?

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