Last week, I wrote about the hottest food trends for 2011. Now, mixologists and wine experts tell us what they're excited about for the new year.
Rob Burns, beverage director at The National at The Benjamin Hotel, New York City. "The nostalgia revival: Classic cocktails, beer (PBR hasn't seen this much action since the prom of '62), and brown spirits made a resurgence last year and we can continue to look for it into 2011."
Homaro Cantu, chef at ING, Chicago. "I am excited about distilling my own liquors and spirits. Imagine if you had pad thai for dinner and took all of the ingredients and put them in a distilling pot to make pad thai liquor—to create a pad thai martini!"
Kamal Kouiri, wine director at Molyvos, New York City. "Exploring new wines and wine regions. Consumers are not satisfied with the usual cabernet and chardonnay, they're looking for new things. That's why Molyvos is focusing on promoting new wines made from Greek indigenous grape varieties."
Mariena Mercer, mixologist at The Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. "Molecular mixology. Playful interpretations of classic drinks with a futuristic twist. I'm working on a new platter of edibles for cocktails that includes edible mint juleps and liquid nitrogen root beer floats."
Michael Kelley, beverage director at Cookshop, New York City. "I think the next new drink trend will look to showcase lesser-known, more artisanal spirits that have long been ignored by barkeeps. Mezcal comes to mind."
Merlin Verrier, chef de cuisine, Graham Elliot, Chicago. "I'm digging boutique coffee roasters. I love Metropolis coffee, which we're serving at Grahamwich. I love French press to-go cups. I am thrilled that we're all getting more serious and educated about coffee as a whole."
Peter Chase, partner and beverage director at Millesime, New York City. "I'm very excited about the small-batch distilleries that are popping up from the Great Lakes to Brooklyn. There is something special about working with a product that was hand crafted only a few miles away."
Julian Uribe, assistant manager, food and beverage, 1500˚ at Eden Roc Renaissance, Miami. "The move of craft beer into more fine dining establishments. A lot of wonderful, high-quality beers are being brewed now—and they're getting noticed. I'm looking into the possibility of working with our chef to create some interesting beer dinners down the road."
Justin Noel, head bartender, 1534, New York City. "I see a trend of bars and restaurants looking to make their own proprietary spirits that they can use at their own bar. It gives us more of this is mine and only mine, and no other bar is serving this mentality."
Jamie Kutch, winemaker, Kutch Wines, San Francisco. "Low alcohol, balanced wines. People no longer want to be slapped in the face with a fruity, over-oaked alcohol bomb. Instead they're looking for balance and finesse. Something that pairs with their food instead of the wine itself being a meal."