The spirits are calling
Back at Catersource 2015 in March, Michael Stavros, M Culinary Concepts, Scottsdale, AZ, said about trends in wedding beverages: “Whiskey is king, bourbon is his jealous brother, gin is waiting in the wings, Mezcal is visiting but trying to stay, and—.” Hold it right there. Six months later, the agave-based Mezcal isn’t just visiting; it’s here for an extended and quite lengthy vacation. Smoky and complex, it plays beautifully with the big dogs, adding a solid layer of complexity. Keep your eyes open, you’ll be seeing this a lot more in the next year.
To finish Stavros’ sentence, “—sparkling is on the rise.” He’s right about that as well. Low-proof cocktails with a splash of champagne or cava are running neck-and-neck with their more spirit-forward compadres. Boozy drinks are great, but if one is out for an evening, a spirit-heavy beverage is also, sadly, a “one and done” for many people. Lower ABV allows guests to stay longer, and keep their wits about them, too.
We all scream for…
I’ve left one of my personal favorites to the end: the frozen, creamy, and icy drinks. When I was a young imbiber, I did not lean toward those beverages the college crowd ran with: I was known for my way around a rum-based frozen peach daiquiri incorporating fruit my grandmother picked every year in Michigan. When I see that boozy shaved ice, blended fruit beverages, and the slushy machine are on the rise, I can’t help but be giddy with delight.
Coupled with that is the phoenix-like rise of the ice cream drink, be it traditional 20th century or new and deliciously unique. Drinking your dessert has never been more popular. Grasshoppers, Brandy Alexanders, and Pink Squirrels are jumping into bed with the Raspberry Pisco Parfait (Soda & Swine, San Diego), Mom’s Salted Caramel (Ward 6, St. Paul); Dublin Honey Beer & Port Float (Ice Cream Bar, San Francisco); and a Blackberry & Lavender Gin Shake (Sassafras, Denver), for example. Fire up that blender, boys and girls—your guests will be standing in line for your fruity, slushie, creamy concoctions.
Drink the fuzz: The peach daiquiri of this author’s 21st century bar includes leaving the peach skins on in order to gain the related nutrients, but also because it adds color and interest to an otherwise single toned beverage. Cap it with a fresh peach slice and a lime wedge.
The Backyard Deluxe BBC served at the Diageo House party at July’s Tales of the Cocktail is blended Bailey’s Original Irish Cream Liqueur, Bulleit Rye, Giffard Banana and other fine juices and spirits. Topped with a spicy banana chip, this blended beverage is a very trendy ice cream-style libation.