News Flask! News On Booze:
The Alcohol Outlook: Trends for 2018


The experts have weighed in. The National Restaurant Association polled chefs and culinary experts from around the country to see what they think we’ll be ponying up to the bar for this year, and their predictions might surprise you. Turns out we’ll be ordering culinary cocktails (a meal in a glass!), locally-produced spirits, and barrel-aged drinks when we head out for a drink in 2018.

Culinary Cocktails

What are culinary cocktails, exactly? Culinary cocktails are mixed drinks which include either a food item or a culinary technique to produce the flavor, or the sensation, of a meal in a drink.



Basically, it means you can now eat your drink. Combining two of Americans’ favorite things—food and drink, bartenders credit this popular new style of cocktails to our love of food television. As both craft cocktails and farm-to-table movements grow in popularity, restaurants and bars have decided to combine the two, giving us the culinary cocktail. Smoked tomatoes, onion skins, beets, carrots, bell peppers, Swiss chard, and more are popping up in drinks across the country.

Try your hand at making some at home.

Drink Local

Chefs also predict locally produced alcohols will be huge this year. Again, as the farm-to-table, local, and organic movements grow, people will look to buy locally in all things—including alcohol. Today, we all want to know the story of our food and our drinks. Where did the ingredients come from? How were they grown or sourced? Count on consumers to be asking this at both the grocery store and the bar.

The National Restaurant Association is calling this ‘hyperlocal’, which is defined as focusing on matters concerning your community. So, ‘drink local’!

Barrel-Aged Drinks

Another fun new trend is barrel-aging. We all know wines and spirits can be barrel-aged, but now many bars are barrel-aging cocktails. They prepare each drink in batches and then allow the drinks to age for days, weeks, or even months—depending on both the ingredients involved and how strong they’d like the drink to be. It’s a cool, hip draw; something new and different they can offer customers. Barrel-aged drinks are often those which include gin, vodka, bourbon, moonshine or cognac, as these alcohols all have higher proofs. Aging drinks with lower proofs typically makes them sweeter, so know what you’re ordering!

Which of these trends have you tried? Let us know what you think! Have your own predictions? Share them with us!

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