Every year sees new trends born, some that will stick and others that are destined to flame out. Last year saw us hit peak pét-nat and, for better or worse, the widespread celebration of mass-market beers.
This year, we’ve polled a dozen beverage professionals on the movements that have defined the previous year in drinking, asking them which trends should stay and which should go in 2018.
From the world of wine, spirits, beer and cocktails we spoke to Thomas Waugh (Beverage Director, Major Food Group), Justin Vann (Owner and Wine Buyer, Public Services), Abigail Gullo (Head Bartender, Compère Lapin), Jon Bonné (Senior Contributing Editor, PUNCH), Robert Simonson (Contributing Editor, PUNCH), Eben Freeman (Principal Consultant, Cocktail Culinaria), Drew Lazor (Contributor, PUNCH; author, Session Cocktails), Nicolas Palazzi (Founder, PM Spirits), Aaron Goldfarb (Contributor, PUNCH; author, The Guide for a Single Man), Megan Krigbaum (Contributing Editor, PUNCH), and our own Editor-in-Chief, Talia Baiocchi.
Here, the verdicts on 18 trends that made headlines in 2017.
Nicolas Palazzi: Please go. If you want your IPA “juicy” my guess is, you don’t like IPA.
Megan Krigbaum: Love ’em when they’re made well and veer into the tropical realm, like the Sloop Brewing Juice Bomb, which I would happily drink all the live-long summer day.
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. But it’s time to start elevating the art form.
Drew Lazor: I personally love them as long as I don’t have to wait in line, but you know some other whimsical style will arise in response at some point soon. (2020: “Is the Astronaut Ice Cream Imperial Porter Over?”)
Talia Baiocchi: Still holding out for the beer that turns into a burrito.
Reserve/Vintage Cocktail Menus
Robert Simonson: Stay. The one percent and its money are soon parted. But a handful of serious bars do it well.
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. I just wish I could afford them. Even if I suspect many suck.
Nicolas Palazzi: Stop using the one-liter crap nobody would drink neat anyways. Buy better booze, use it in cocktails. Charge for it. Call it a reserve list.
Drew Lazor: I’m not rich enough to afford an opinion on this category.
Abigail Gullo: I am a vintage menu.
Drew Lazor: Goodbye. I prefer reusable metal straws. Paper ones look cool but some of them make your drink taste like newsprint.
Jon Bonné: Still one of the most under-recognized and meaningful changes in the bar world.
Robert Simonson: There is no excuse for bars using plastic straws any longer. They are environmentally disastrous and ethically indefensible. If you don’t like paper straws, use metal straws. If you don’t like metal straws, drink the damned drink without a straw. You’ll live.
Aaron Goldfarb: Go. Even ocean-life doesn’t want to live in a world with these soggy catastrophes.
Nicolas Palazzi: I wish I cared about straws. I really don’t.
The Boom of Cocktail Books
Nicolas Palazzi: How about we give “cocktails” a rest and move on to books about spirits? Who has written about neat spirits recently? Exactly. Let’s do it. It’s time.
Drew Lazor: More, more, more!
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay if you have something new to say. Go if the first 50 pages of the book are yet again going to tell me how to use a jigger and shaker and what I need in my home bar.
Megan Krigbaum: Having edited one of them this year, I’m all for it. That these books are running the gamut from the very precise and complex to the unbelievably simple is just very, very cool.
Talia Baiocchi: Stay. Until I convince someone to publish my single-subject book on glögg, there’s room to run.
Return of the Martini (+ Riffs)
Nicolas Palazzi: I am all about drinking Martinis made with kickass ingredients. Make it simple, make it great, push the limits of what a great Martini can be.
Justin Vann: I’m extremely grateful for the return of the Martini, and I hope it never fades into obscurity again. I’m happy to see it happening because it isn’t about making the “classic” 2:1 gin Martini, but about making every Martini great, including dirty incarnations.
Drew Lazor: This can stay—especially if the ubiquity translates to better overall Martinis, and more bartenders playing with the accepted gin-to-vermouth ratio(s).
Robert Simonson: Stay. The Martini never went away. But it’s nice to see more bars make a showcase of the cocktail again. Just as long as they don’t stray too far into “-tini” land, as they did in the 1990s.
Eben Freeman: Oysters and Martinis are peas in a pod and the kids love oysters.
Jon Bonné: I do not think “cocktail” means what they think it means.
Robert Simonson: See: low-fat ice cream. Go.
Aaron Goldfarb: Go. A wellness cocktail is called staying at home.
Megan Krigbaum: You’d have to be pretty naive to think that you’re getting healthier by having a charcoal-laced Jungle Bird, but it looks cool. Sure, why not?
Nicolas Palazzi: Why? Who said this was a good idea? Who vetted this thing? Wellness and alcohol don’t go together. It is ALCOHOL.
Drew Lazor: GTFO.
The No-Alc Movement
Jon Bonné: Again, I do not think “cocktail” means what they think it means.
Eben Freeman: More nonsense made up by the media… fake news.
Justin Vann: If this is a question about the importance of mocktails, I would argue it’s incredibly important to have a well thought out non-alcoholic option for guests. That’s not a trend that’s something that should always be around.
Thomas Waugh: I think it’s important to offer non-alcoholic cocktails. We actually take certain drinks off The Pool Lounge menu and rework them pretty easily to be non-alcoholic.
Drew Lazor: This ain’t me but I fully support anyone who decides to abstain for any reason.
Aaron Goldfarb: Go. Find a new hobby.
Megan Krigbaum: It’s awesome. There should be more of it—for those who don’t drink at all and for the ones who want a break.
Nicolas Palazzi: Don’t like booze? Drink milk. Leave the rest of us to do what we please.
Justin Vann: No, with the obvious exception of tiki, which is unacceptable if it doesn’t have over the top garnishes.
Abigail Gullo: My tiki soul loves this, of course. But I still do not garnish drinks if spectacle is not called for. Sometimes the beauty of the drink is what is in the glass.
Drew Lazor: Love ’em in the right context, but they gotta go if they play tough defense and prevent me from actually getting to the liquid.
Robert Simonson: Go. I understand Instagram is a hungry beast that must be fed hourly. But bar waste and sustainability are more important issues, and one has to pick one’s battles. (Tiki drink garnishes, however, should be grandfathered in. They got here first.)
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. I’m a sucker for ostentatious drinks.
Talia Baiocchi: Time to put the toys away.
Megan Krigbaum: Stay. The more my drink looks like an intricate floral arrangement, the better.
Nicolas Palazzi: Get the drink right. Use better products. Then feel free to go over the top with garnishes.
Jon Bonné: ???????????? ???????? ???????? ????
Drew Lazor: I’m no expert when it comes to Belgian brewing esoterica, so I’m in no position to chide a beer based on where it’s made. Small, creative operations like Fermentery Form in Philadelphia are doing some cool things in this space and I look forward to seeing it grow.
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. I’m loving watching the style evolve.
Justin Vann: Yes forever. I love good American lambics, with the caveat that I will not stand in line for them or any other beer.
Jon Bonné: More of these, please.
Eben Freeman: Sour beers of all types are the rage. I personally cannot drink more than one without getting reflux.
Jon Bonné: More of these, please.
Justin Vann: Into it, please continue forever. See also: anything that resembles a pintxo bar.
Abigail Gullo: I would love for America to regain this tradition. To have us look like Milan or Barcelona with vermut in the afternoon? Sounds delightfully civilized.
Robert Simonson: Stay. The height of sophisticated day-drinking. And this world can use all the sophistication it can get these days.
Talia Baiocchi: Give me spritz or give me death.
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. There should be digestif bars, too.
Natural Wine as Fashion
Justin Vann: I hope natural wine never dies, but I would like the most hardcore, 0/0 zealots to get the hell off my lawn.
Jon Bonné: Fun while it lasted—i.e., a fad briefly embraced by really stylish people is still a fad. Once the cool kids move on to the next shiny thing sometime around April maybe natural wine can go back to sorting out its existential issues.
Megan Krigbaum: More people drinking wines that are thoughtfully made from grapes that aren’t grown with chemicals and that don’t have a bunch of garbage dumped in them is a good thing.
Talia Baiocchi: The wines can stay; the wide-eyed Vogue articles can go.
Drew Lazor: How many disembodied chambray-sleeved arms does it take to VSCO a bottle of pét-nat? I will art-direct this photo for you if you pour me a glass.
Jon Bonné: Legitimately one of the best things to come along in liquor in a while. I only pray we’re stocking away enough bottles of Braulio and Nardini for our grandchildren to enjoy.
Megan Krigbaum: I’m so curious about these, to see how they mellow and which flavors come to the forefront. Finding them will get harder and harder.
Justin Vann: There’s only one vintage amaro I care about, and that’s Braulio Riserva.
Abigail Gullo: I am still just trying to get people to try the new stuff.
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. Love an amaro so old and sticky its cap is almost soldered on.
Carbonic Maceration Red Wines From… Everywhere
Abigail Gullo: Yes, please.
Justin Vann:: I think carbonic macerated reds are a really valuable tool when it comes to pairing with food in restaurants. The public is also more open to the idea with the popularization of vin de soif in America. I hope this sticks around.
Megan Krigbaum: The wines can be so captivatingly drinkable, but they also can really start to taste the same. In a region like Beaujolais, carbonic is nearly part of the terroir and and many of the wines really benefit, but used willy-nilly all over the place, I’m on the fence.
Talia Baiocchi: I certainly drink a lot of these wines. But I consider them to be wine’s juicy IPA: easy to love and prone to homogeneity. I like the idea of a winemaker having one in her portfolio as an everyday, gluggable wine, but not as her end-all expression of grape / place.
Jon Bonné: Wait—you can grow grenache, cinsault, bastardo, carignan, aleatico tempranillo or kekfrankos and have it all taste the same? What glorious times we live in, lads.
Abigail Gullo: Only if they have Chambongs.
Justin Vann: The only thing to dislike about Champagne bars is the inherent expense of Champagne. That being said, places like Air’s and Ambonnay understand they’re working against that stereotype and have very reasonable markups. I hope these keep happening, as long as there’s some crémant for those of us balling on a budget.
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. I like the idea of making Champagne a not-just-for-special-occasions drink.
Megan Krigbaum: If these bars result in more people drinking more incredible Champagnes, I’m all for it. Wonder if that’s actually what’s happening?
Nicolas Palazzi: Go all the way. Make it a bar with only two things a guest can order: Champagne and bacon. I’ll be a regular.
The (Continued) Revival of ‘70s and ‘80s Cocktails
Thomas Waugh: I love a good Grasshopper or Stinger. Anything with créme de menthe, really. Stay.
Aaron Goldfarb: Go. I’m told the last time my father got wasted was off Harvey Wallbangers at a wedding circa 1974. We don’t need to chance that happening again.
Nicolas Palazzi: The world needs more venues putting out Hpnotiq and Hennessy cocktails. But they need to be charcoal-infused and turmeric has to be used.
Jon Bonné: For all the Benetton in every vintage shop on the L train, I think we need to stipulate one thing: The ’80s were a truly shitty time to be drinking cocktails. That said, crème de menthe has long been overdue for a revival, the Grasshopper is delicious and I’ll have another, please.
Abigail Gullo: No thank you. The dark ages do not need to come back. What is next? The Spanish Inquisition?!
Eben Freeman: These kids bugging over the ’80s were not even born in the ’80s.
Drew Lazor: It is my sincere hope that 2018 becomes known as The Year of the Velvet Hammer.
The Batched and Bottled Cocktail in Bars
Abigail Gullo: The way of life if you are a high-volume cocktail bar.
Thomas Waugh: The pre-assembled Martinis at The Grill are all about using good water and controlling the temperature. We’re pre-assembling for a specific reason. It’s not about consistency, it’s about the drink needing to be at sub-zero temperature.
Robert Simonson: If it’s done well and gets me my drink quicker at a crowded bar, I have no objection. If I’m in the mood to have a drink prepared expressly for me, I can always ask for that.
Megan Krigbaum: Love the noticeable textural transformation in these cocktails. Wonder how far this can go?
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. But the reason for having it better be flavor, not just speed.
Talia Baiocchi: Stay. I’m addicted to the creamy texture of a pre-batched and frozen Martini.
Abigail Gullo: Well, yes, or course. Like well-made cocktails such as the French 75 and the Sazerac, frozen drinks never go out of style here in New Orleans.
Drew Lazor: They can stay for life. Freeze every drink in America while you’re at it. Put Gene’s Curbside Daiquiris in charge of national QC.
Robert Simonson: Since the world’s only going to get hotter, we have no choice but to embrace frozen drinks for the long haul. Also, they taste good.
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. Stay so much they become acceptable year-round. Frozen cocktails rule.
Megan Krigbaum: Yes. Always yes.
Jon Bonné: Once again, more of these please.
Talia Baiocchi: Stay. As long as we don’t start calling every bar that uses a cobbler shaker “Japanese-style.”
Abigail Gullo: The very first bars of the the new wave of cocktail bars such as Milk & Honey and PDT were all inspired by Japanese cocktail bars. This trend never goes out of style if you have the money and clientele who will eat that kind of service up.
Robert Simonson: Stay. I think there’s a lot American bartenders and drinkers still have to learn about this sort style of watering hole. I’m all for their proliferation.
Jon Bonné: The Japanese work damn hard to perfect every aspect of a good bar. Service, ingredients, technique—everything is honed to an art. There is an intrinsic civility and quietude to drinking in these places. In other words, it is a high bar. It’s also a bar not being cleared very often outside Japan. (Yet.)
Aaron Goldfarb: Stay. I have nothing snarky to add. Japanese whisky is nice.
Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.