With 2009 in the bag, 2010 has the potential to be one of the most interesting years in the spirits and cocktails world in a long time. Here are some of my thoughts on what you’ll see in the next 12 months.
- Speakeasy style bars will slowly go out of style. This one isn’t too hard, and I’m not the first one to write predict something like this. Sure, some speakeasy style bars in NY or SF will have a much longer shelf life, but I think the trend is already away from these styles and I think you might be surprised at how dated these are going to feel when I revisit this post in 2011.
- Tiki is going to have a renaissance. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m no fan of tiki. I’ve stated before and I’ll say it again that I think tiki culture is racist, but I think Martin Cate’s new Smugglers Cove bar will spark a renewed interest in tiki from bartenders and bring tiki drinks into more bartenders repetoire.
- As craft bartending expands, the overall quality of cocktails will get worse, not better. I speak as a bartender with over 15 years experience. Just as not everyone can be a chef, not everyone has the ability to be a good craft bartender. Unfortunately, just about anyone can talk their way behind the bar someplace, and I’ve been experiencing far too many poor cocktails made by enthusiastic bartenders who lack experience and understanding about how to craft cocktails. I was recently served a Sazerac by a bartender that didn’t include Peychauds bitters. When I inquired why, the bartender told me, “Thats the way that I make them”. God save us all.
- This is the year of rye. Good bartenders have been enthusiastic about rye for some time, but I think 2010 is the year that rye (and brown spirits in general) return to prominence.
- I expect to see a contraction in the overall vodka market in 2010. As vodka companies have fought each other to develop new, and increasingly strange flavors, they’ve fragmented their market much like the soda pop producers have. As flavored vodka drinkers age, I expect many of them to gravitate primarily to the gin market.
- Super premium gins will be a hot spirits category in 2010. If Beefeater 24 and Oxley gins are any indication, this could be one of the more interesting segments of the spirits market.
- Vodka & Red Bull will still be the drink of choice for douchebags worldwide.
- Applebees (or another such chain) will experiment with classic cocktails with horrible consequences. Large restaurant chains can always be counted on to jump on a trend and do their damndest to ruin it. Expect people in Newcomersville Ohio to enjoy the new, neon-colored “Party Classics”, while true cocktail enthusiasts die a little bit on the inside.
- Martinis will begin to return to something resembling a martini. A double vodka up and chilled will be just that.
- The USBG will regain its prominence as some of the smaller bar guilds fade away. I think we’ve seen all the small guilds that will be forming and I expect to see 2-3 small guilds either fold or go inactive in 2010. There are a couple of very strong small guilds that seem to have vision and membership for long term viability, but I see problems for guilds in small areas without a tradition of great cocktails. I hope I’m wrong on this one, but it would be great opportunity for the USBG to bring some of these smaller guilds into the fold and truly become a national bar guild for our craft.
Next year, I’ll review these and see just how accurate (or completely off base) I’ve been. Please don’t take offense at any of these predictions, they are all just a shot in the dark.