Edited by John Roberts
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.
IMAGE SOURCE: Shaker