Scanning the sea of glass bottles shelved in the liquor section of Newport Market, I looked for new local spirits. Not having luck, I posed the question to the attendant. He told me he couldn't think of anything new but said the gin section keeps expanding.
Gin keeps having a moment
Growth of gin in the U.K. is set to overtake vodka, according to the Trending 2020 report by William Grant & Sons, and the U.S., the second leading consumer of gin, is thirsting for more. That expanded section of gin at the liquor store includes takes on traditional London Dry Gin as well as flavor play within the category. The newest addition locally is Wild Roots cucumber and grapefruit gin.
Carbonation bubbles up
Fizzing up in popularity, the Aperol Spritz made it into the top 10 list of best-selling cocktails for the first time last year. It's a crisp cocktail with vibrantly orange hued Aperol, prosecco, a splash of soda and an orange slice. Soda stream owners, if you serve this at home don't forget to tell your guests your Aperol Spritz includes house-made soda; you'll sound so fancy.
Low to zero proof cocktails grow
Spirits without alcohol are becoming easier to find and popping up as traditional spirits like gin and whiskey. Over the holidays I made a Manhattan with Chicago-based Ritual Whiskey Alternative. Despite having zero proof, it slapped my taste buds with a spicy finish. Bend is starting to catch onto this trend as we've spotted some robust zero-proof cocktails at San Simón and Dogwood Cocktail Cabin.
CBD and cocktails become buds
Non-trippy cannabidiol or CBD, is finding its way into everything, including your cocktail. Without the THC that gets you high, the addition of CBD to a cocktail is meant to add a calm, mellowness to your buzz. As a wellness trend CBD claims to alleviate inflammation, pain and anxiety—but let's not fool ourselves into thinking we're being healthy when adding it to booze. If you want to try this at home find an alcohol-based CBD tincture as it seamlessly blends into your cocktail. You can also try CBD oil, but it will float on the top of the cocktail and add to the aroma when you take a sip. Depending on the brand, it can be very cannabis-flavor-forward to almost tasteless, so there's room for experimentation.
Hard seltzer domination
Vodka leads the spirit category, but hard seltzer is now larger by volume led by popular brands White Claw, Truly and Bon & Viv. Rising from an obsession with La Croix and a desire for a low sugar, low calorie, ready-to-drink alcoholic beverage, hard seltzers grew from 0.85% to 2.6% of the beverage alcohol market in the U.S. last year, according to Hard Seltzer Report from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. As the fastest-growing beverage alcohol category, it's time to stop calling hard seltzer a trend and add it to the mainstream with wine and beer.