Every year sees new trends born, some that will stick and others that are destined to flame out. This year, natural wine continued its incessant spread. Meanwhile, clarified cocktails and rosé show no signs of slowing.
Here, we’ve polled a number of beverage professionals on the movements that have defined the previous year in drinking, asking them which trends should stay and which should disappear in 2020.
From the world of wine, spirits, beer and cocktails we spoke to Talia Baiocchi (Editor in Chief, PUNCH and TASTE); Jon Bonné (Senior Contributing Editor, PUNCH; author, The New Wine Rules); Chloe Frechette (Senior Editor, PUNCH; author, Easy Tiki); Aaron Goldfarb (Contributor, PUNCH; author, Hacking Whiskey); Megan Krigbaum (Contributing Editor, PUNCH; author, The Essential Cocktail Book); Amanda Smeltz (Wine Director, Estela, New York City); Ezra Star (General Manager, Drink, Boston); Christine Wiseman (Bar Manager, Broken Shaker, Los Angeles).
The Piquette Boom
Jon Bonné: Get me really drunk sometime and I’ll regale you with the actual not-glam history of piquette. The Malort of wine. GO GO GO.
Amanda Smeltz: Has there been a boom? I know of, like, three producers making piquette right now. Whatever, people have been fermenting anything they can figure out how to make tasty and get drunk forever. As long as they don’t become super-expensive, they make sense to me. Stay.
Ezra Star: On this one I have to say it goes. I may be a bit of a traditionalist on this, but good wine is good wine; I’m not looking to get drunk off of the leftovers of a company just looking to make more money. Sell me a glass of Loire Valley gamay and then try to sell me your leftovers on top of it… No, thank you.
Christine Wiseman: Natural-repurposed vibes, Papi—love it! Stay.
Megan Krigbaum: This is literally bottom-of-the-barrel stuff. Kudos to the winemakers who have literally made something out of nothing, but there’s so much good wine to drink, I don’t really see the point of this.
Jon Bonné: Delicious now, delicious always. Stay.
Amanda Smeltz: There shouldn’t be a debate here. Red grapes taste nice sometimes when lightly extracted or treated more as “white.” I just want industrial Provence and all the swill modeled after it to go away forever.
Ezra Star: I’m honestly tired of rosé. In my opinion, it’s good at a certain time of the year, but come on… Pink wine in October? That’s too far for me.
Christine Wiseman: It’s summertime somewhere. Stay.
Megan Krigbaum: Stay. Why can’t we just keep loving good rosé like we always have?
Talia Baiocchi: Remember the BWC (Before White Claw) days when Rosé™ was the most annoying trend out there? Even your “summer water” memes can stay forever, rosé. Save us.
Jon Bonné: So does this mean I can’t drink my Martinis dirty? Seriously, stay. If that’s your thing.
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. I love them.
Amanda Smeltz: Is this like when I put a charcoal stick into my water pitcher at home to make my tap water taste better?
Ezra Star: I love a good clarified cocktail just like anyone else—it gives you something unexpected and plays with your senses—but honestly I think this trend has gone on for a little too long now. Let’s clarify the drinks and then make them colors we want to see. Clearer is boring! Give me red!
Christine Wiseman: What would Nico de Soto do? Stay.
Megan Krigbaum: Stay. They’re sooooo pretttyyyyy.
Talia Baiocchi: Clarifying a Piña Colada is what made me love the Piña Colada. Stay.
Jon Bonné: Long overdue for its comeback. Stay.
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. Copper & Kings’ A Song for You was one of the best things I drank this entire year.
Amanda Smeltz: Spirits made from fruit are great. Keep ’em comin’. Stay.
Ezra Star: I know this is an up-and-coming category, and I for one am a fan of anything that gets people to drink more brandy. I’m also glad that there are a few really good brands “doing it right” now in the U.S.
Christine Wiseman: We have grapes too. It’s the new American gin trend. Stay.
Megan Krigbaum: Stay. Dan Farber at Osocalis in California has been turning out lovely, nuanced brandy that I’ve loved for years and has largely flown under the radar. I hope that more people can know his brandies. Because it’s mostly been an insiders’ spirit, the distillers who care about brandy really care about brandy, which means that the quality is very high. And I also hope that brandies from other fruit, like those from St. George Spirits and Clear Creek, get more attention.
Chloe Frechette: Bertoux, Copper & Kings, Osocalis—these brands and more are testament to what American brandy can be. Stay!
Jon Bonné: Some people got too much time on their hands. Go.
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. I’m still somewhat dubious, but Iain McPherson is a genius with an endlessly curious mind and I’m excited to see where he continues to evolve this.
Amanda Smeltz: When science is only for people with oodles of time on their hands!
Ezra Star: I love any method that allows us to put more flavor into a cocktail, but if I hear people at a bar telling me how much effort they put into it, I’m going to order a glass of wine. Great techniques are amazing, and we should always be pushing the envelope, but the couple of places I’ve seen do this spent more time telling me about it than I think it took them to freeze the water out of the liquor.
Christine Wiseman: Brilliant. Stay.
Talia Baiocchi: I am honestly still trying to get my head around this because science. But I’m into it!
Natural Wine Bars Everywhere
Jon Bonné: Henceforth all new natural wine bars can only be opened in cities that don’t start with “San,” “New” or “Los.” The brave souls trying to do this in less obvious places can STAY, obvi. Anyone who wants to open Clone 46 of Ten Bells can GO.
Amanda Smeltz: I like them a lot better than the wine bars we used to have to sit in in Park Slope and the Village with ratty velvet banquettes and bad jazz and 14 kinds of garbage pinot noir and meritage wines, so yeah. Stay.
Ezra Star: Yes. Yes. Yes. I love this trend, however I think as the pendulum swings back the other way, I’d love to see more interesting and high-end wine makers looking not to cash in on the trend but to use it to show off how incredible wine can be made naturally. There are many “natural wine bars” out there that try and serve you something that is essentially kombucha and then try and tell you it’s good wine.
Christine Wiseman: Not enough! Stay.
Megan Krigbaum: That this movement is now flirting with the mainstream trend cycle continues to feel bizarre to me. I’ve always appreciated the renegade feel of places that had a sommelier or wine buyer who sought out the stuff that wasn’t everywhere else, who knew the producers that hadn’t risen to the top yet, but who were making great wine in a natural way. These days, despite the fact that the wines are natural, the discoveries are fewer and far between.
Jon Bonné: We do understand that’s an intrinsic contradiction, yes? Go.
Aaron Goldfarb: Go. No one wants your hotel lobby water for $30 a bottle.
Ezra Star: I would love to see more NA spirits that actually taste good. I think there are many on the market today that are cashing in on the trend and haven’t taken the time to make something that actually tastes good. I want more good options for my guests.
Christine Wiseman: We’re here for a long time and a good time. Stay.
Megan Krigbaum: Stay. Fill the glasses! Fill the bars! The more the merrier!
Chloe Frechette: I appreciate the sentiment, but I don’t think they’re a necessary component to a standout nonalcoholic cocktail. Go.
Jon Bonné: Doesn’t matter what I think. It’s staying regardless. (White Claw got no reason to live, but the category of ready-to-drink cans is awesome and that means more generally can stay.)
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. Young people with boring palates need something to get drunk on.
Amanda Smeltz: As long as marketing and irony continue to be sustaining forces in how people consume, stuff like this ain’t goin’ anywhere! No Laws, dudes.
Ezra Star: No.
Christine Wiseman: No one is breaking any laws when drinking a Claw. Stay.
Megan Krigbaum: Stay. I spent the greater part of this year pregnant, which means that I’ve not yet reached my hand into an ice bucket for a can of Natural Lime just yet. The data geek in me is pretty curious about this whole new genre of drinks to spy (and snark) on, no matter how lame the product. I hope it sticks around just long enough for us to find out that one of the ingredients is actual claws.
Chloe Frechette: White. Claw. Is. Not. Good.
Big Brands Jumping on the Sustainability Bandwagon
Christine Wiseman: It’s a start. Stay.
Amanda Smeltz: Look, this I really care about. If big brands can actually figure out how to source materials better—i.e., if there’s an economic or legal imperative for them to do so—and can ferment and distill real agricultural material into booze, and try to improve some of the profound waste and ravages to health that attend producing, say, Budweiser, then we should try to make that happen. If it’s just a branding technique to make big companies look better, then I don’t want anything to do with it.
Ezra Star: I am a fan of brands trying to become more sustainable. I was also a fan of six-times distilled vodka, or “gluten-free” vodka because at the end of the day the consumer was interested in purchasing more of it. But dear big brand hopping on the bandwagon, if you’re going to do it, actually do it.
Megan Krigbaum: Stay. I’m of the mind that a rising tide float all boats on this one. Is it ridiculous that this has become a marketing hashtag? Yep. But if these brands are doing even a fraction of what they claim to be, then it has to be helping in some small way. And we need all the help we can get at this point.
Jon Bonné: <golf clap>
Nouveau Smoked Cocktails
Chloe Frechette: If all I can smell as I’m drinking my nonsmoked cocktail at the end of the bar is your smoked cocktail at the opposite end of the bar, I’m not going to be happy about it. Go.
Ezra Star: Nope.
Jon Bonné: Smoke is cool. Heh-heh. Stay.
Amanda Smeltz: If you want smoke, have a cigarette outside the bar like every other normal dirtbag. Go.
Christine Wiseman: GOOO!!! If they can smoke a cocktail, why can’t I smoke a cigarette inside?
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. Gimme those Instagram likes.
Talia Baiocchi: This is like the Speed 2: Cruise Control of trends. A sequel of a thing that never should have happened in the first place.
The ’Tini Revival
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. So long as the ’tini glassware never returns.
Amanda Smeltz: Sure, why not? Just use stuff made from real fruit. Am I repeating myself? Stay.
Ezra Star: Sure. I like any excuse to get guests interested in drinking nice things and having a good time. If labeling something ’tini is the method to do that, I will make a menu and put the word all over the page.
Christine Wiseman: Aren’t those called shooters? Go.
Chloe Frechette: Stay, so long as the ’tini glassware does return!
Talia Baiocchi: Only if they’re garnished with butterfly clips.
Jon Bonné: Stay. (But sure hope you like cleaning tap lines, smart guy.)
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. But no need to fetishize … or charge $15.
Ezra Star: I think this is really only good if you want to create a space that’s high volume and low training. I think at the moment it is a little overused. There is an art to what we do—draft cocktails are a great tool to bring more people into our world, but let’s not overuse it.
Christine Wiseman: If it puts a cocktail in my hand in under a minute, I’m in.
Megan Krigbaum: Go. In the context of some big music festival—or even a baseball game—where the stakes are low, sure, I’d drink a Mojito that some guy pumped out of a keg. But we’ve come so far with cocktails, I just don’t see why we should have to settle for some kegged crap in a nice bar. I mean, how long does it really take to make a Negroni? That’s one of those three-ingredient drinks, right, Robert Simonson?
Chloe Frechette: It’s a divisive practice, but I side with Toby Cecchini: “Draft cocktails are shite.”
Jon Bonné: Reports of shiso’s demise are premature. Stay.
Amanda Smeltz: I wish we didn’t all have to go through a thing every three to five years where we “discover” a Japanese ingredient or plant or product and then every chef and bartender puts it in their concoctions until the next new Japanese thing comes around. I don’t want popcorn with togarashi and I don’t care about a perilla leaf in my cocktails.
Ezra Star: I love shiso. It’s such a unique flavor and I want to see more of it being used.
Chloe Frechette: As far as flavors of the moment go, I have no qualms with shiso.
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. While they sound pretentious, the brewers of them, like Scratch or Fonta Flora, are often thoughtful and quite good.
Amanda Smeltz: Yes. Brew smaller, brew with more interesting local produce. Stop throwing frozen pizzas in your mash. Postmodernism is boring.
Ezra Star: Cool. Yes. No comment.
Christine Wiseman: Leave it for garnishes and chefs. Go.
Megan Krigbaum: I’ve not had a ton of these, but I like the spirit behind them. (And I LOVE foraged ciders.) May they all not taste like gruit.
Jon Bonné: Nature provides. Stay.
Talia Baiocchi: One of the best new trends in beer. Stay.
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. They are one of the few things elevating beer during these very boring, immature times of orange juice IPA and pastry stouts.
Ezra Star: Sure. Let’s make more flavors from fermentation. Beer nerds are great.
Christine Wiseman: Are you a wine or a beer? Pick a side, but also stay.
Amanda Smeltz: I have a sneaking suspicion this is where/how all the craft-brew bros realize wine is super interesting, but they have to do mixed fermentations to arrive at those insights. All us WOMEN have just been over here enjoying the aromas of WINE this whole time. Anyway, they can stay ’cause I’ve had some very tasty examples.
Talia Baiocchi: I love it as the beer world’s turn away from adjuncts and tricks to something more about purity and craft. Stay.