Small Batch is Still Big – The American Distilling Institute reports the continuing rise in craft and micro-distilleries, where true ingenuity is underway. Validating the power of craft, even the “big boys” are now getting into the small-batch business. Consider using Michter’s barrel-strength rye in a classic Manhattan, Roca Patron for your next Tequila combination or Mezan XO rum partnered with tonic over ice.
Simplicity Reigns Supreme – Taking 15 minutes or more to mix the perfect drink isn’t necessary. Now, simple elixirs in unexpected flavors are at the forefront. With readily available ingredients and just a few preparation steps, everyone can create a killer craft cocktail. For example, ginger beer paired with vodka over ice or grapefruit soda with tequila and a slice of jalapeno are refreshing combinations.
Increasing Culinary Influence with Garden-to-Glass Libations – Mixologists in-the-know are taking cues from the kitchen with imaginative cocktails filled with locally grown farm stand foodstuffs. Fresh fruit, roots, nut, and herb-laden libations are all the rage. Mixers with all-natural ingredients like Italian lemons and Hawaiian ginger are being used to craft distinctive, memorable, and crave-worthy flavors. Watermelon slushies with a splash of limoncello and vanilla vodka, an orchard-fresh peach margarita, or a locally-sourced bunch of mint for mojitos or juleps.
Moonshine Goes Gourmet – Once just a novelty item, distillers are now getting creative, proffering premium spirits that elevate crafted cocktails to an incredible new level. Using fresh, new flavored “shine” in time-honored recipes gives a modern spin and hand-crafted technique to some old favorites. Think about Bloomery’s SweetShine Peach flavored moonshine, fresh blackberries and a bottle of red wine to make sangria or their Raspberry Lemon flavor with gin and ruby red grapefruit juice for a refreshing, not-too-sweet Ruby Slipper.
Beer Cocktails – Elevate craft beer with toppers and mixers to take barley and hops to a new, innovative level. The next time you mix a Bloody Mary, substitute an IPA for the more-traditional vodka (and use fresh tomato juice not canned) or shandies with muddled fresh fruit and tonic or lemon/lime sodas and wheat beer. Feeling adventurous? Borrow the kid’s ice cream float idea using a porter with chocolate notes poured into a tall glass of coffee ice cream.