Massachusetts Beverage Business


Article By: Liza Weisstuch


In evolutionary terms, the time wasn't long ago when the American beer industry was ruled by titans. American craft beer was perhaps considered quaint by some, a novelty by others. But now craft is king. "American craftsmanship is certainly the wave of popularity right now," says Alan O'Campbell, General Manager at Downtown Wine and Spirits in Somerville. He says he's seen a rise in interest in dark, hoppy beers among consumers. "There's a resurgence of breweries and possibilities. It happens every five to eight years - something comes around and everything just shifts. Weaker companies fall off and find their way into obscurity and that gives birth to new monsters. Brewers are shooting for the extreme. They really want to shake things up. They're putting ten hops in a beer or taking things over the top, using extreme hops and sweet malts at the same time." He continues, "The trend for general populace is more on the hops side. People are going for malt, darker beer. It's The American Way, really - just cram everything into one bottle. People want it all - now." He notes that within that extreme movement, Rogue's Imperial IPA and Brew 1O,OOO have been in high demand. Mike Cimini, president of Yankee Spirits in Attleboro and Sturbridge, has also seen a marked spike in interest. "There's a resurgence of craft brew movement. On the commercial end, it's Sam Summer. People are moving away from lagers and ales to try something different," he says. "The commercial test will always be a leading indicator in terms of sales." At Julio's Liquors in Westborough, beer manager Jose Santos stocks about 9OO beers and says that among them, the over-the-top hoppy beers are crowding the shelves. "We've seen it for the past two years and it hasn't slowed down. Every brewery is putting out extremely hoppy beers. Brewers have always made normal IPA - but now there are double IPAs and triple IPAs," he says. While he gives Dogfish Head much of the credit for the movement, and says they're still constantly "pushing the envelope", he suspects a lot of the interest from younger clientele stems from their traveling more and getting more exposure. "A lot of barrel-aged stuff is on fire," Jose adds, noting that Kentucky Breakfast Stout from Michigan's Founders Brewing is particularly popular. Other big sellers at Julio's are Allagash Curieux and Weyerbacher from Pennsylvania.

But the beer connoisseur's instinct is always to seek out the new. Many insiders see microbrews as a phase. If that's the case, what comes after? Erik Johnson, Wine Director at Sel de la Terre, says when people move beyond the microbrew, they go back to the source. "People are interested in what's coming out of Germany in Belgium - really high caliber things. I think it's a continuation of what happened 15 years ago to microbrews. There's an interest in smaller producers and they move to smaller craft beers. The next transition is trying classic European styles that a lot of microbrews are based on. It's like people who are interested in wine: they start domestic. California leads to Australia then to Europe, where wine the tradition began." But according to Jose, the movement flows both ways. "We've always done huge numbers with Belgians. Outside of microbrews, it's the second biggest categories," he says. "We've always had American brewers create with Belgian brewer overseas, but now it's vice versa: Belgian are becoming hoppier."

La Schouffe's Houblon Chouffe
Rogue Brew 1O,OOO
Founder's Devil Dancer
Allagash Curieux
Stone American Pale Ale


Liquor store shelves are crowded with spirits and wines from all corners of the globe - rums from all over the Caribbean and Latin America, and India, too, cachaca from Brazil, pisco from Peru, and sochu from Japan. But when it comes to whiskeys, there seems to be a huge resurgence of anything made in the USA. "When people are searching out new things, they find themselves in America rather than searching out foreign," says Alan at Downtown Wine and Spirits. "I stock every whiskey I can, especially American rye. It's still a rarity, there aren't too many available all the time, but people are starting to understand it better and drink it a little more." A rarity now, perhaps, but that appears to be changing. "Bourbon drinkers are rediscovering rye and single barrels [bourbon] are definitely selling," says Carri Wroblewski, co-owner of BRIX Wine Shop in the South End. She says that Pappy Van Winkle disappears from the shelves quickly, as does Sazerac - "whenever we get our hands on it" - that is. "The category does well overall. It's still a warhorse. Elijah Craig 18 has developed quite a following," says Gary Park, owner of Gary's Liquors in Chestnut Hill. "And Buffalo Trace - every time we get our hands on a case it disappears. We're a very big Jim Beam store," he says, referring to Jim Beam's Small Batch Bourbon Collection, which includes Booker's Bakers, Knob Creek and Basil Hayden's.

On premise, an increasing number of restaurants of all culinary styles are finding more and more patrons calling for rye. Dawn Lamondola is the Corporate Beverage Manager for the Commonwealth Restaurant Group, which owns and operates Mistral, Sorellina, Teatro, and Moo. She says they have Michter's on the shelves at Sorellina, and while the industry has long been flocking to it, the brand's cachet is quickly catching on.

Dave Stuart, the bar manager who opened Chef Tony Susi's Sage when Susi moved from the North End to the South End, noticed that based on his stint at City Bar in the Lenox Hotel, people are much more discerning about their bourbons than they were just a few years ago. He made sure to stock a decent selection of single barrel and small batch bourbons at Sage. Among others, the selection includes Blanton's, Elmer T. Lee and Old Overholt. In the past six months, he says people have been calling for rye more. The rise in consumer awareness and interest is hardly consistent throughout the state. Mike Cimini at Yankee Spirits has seen the American brown spirits growth as a "supplier-driven trend" without the consumer demand to match. He comments, "There's been an explosive growth of small batch bourbon and small quality craft distilled bourbons and ryes. That's been a supplier driven trend. There's not a lot of take away. There's a proliferation of new brands, [but] brown goods are in a spiral and people aren't jumping on it the way they are vodkas. We have 44 linear feet, four shelves high devoted to vodka. A year ago it was 4O feet." Paul Boyle, Vice President of National On-premise Accounts for Martignetti Companies, the largest wholesaler in the northeast, says consumers in the region have become much more discerning about their bourbons, remarking that there's been a rise in sales on-premise of Beam's small batch labels. He sees rye, however, as being slow to find its footing in the mainstream. Boyle perceives rye as something for "the independents looking for an edge". But among cocktail experts, rye is perfectly fitting with the rebirth of classic cocktails. "With mixology goes rye whiskey - and I say that about gin, too," says Ryan Magarian, who co-founded Aviation gin and runs Liquid Relations, a cocktail and spirits consulting agency based in Portland, Oregon. He's working globally with the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts to implement a new cocktail program that puts a premium on featuring the classics in their traditional proportions. He was in Boston in March training the staff at the Oak Bar. "Manhattans, Juleps, Sazeracs - they all have a story - and they all prefer rye to bourbon." American whiskey is even getting play in major corporations that aren't specifically food and drink-based. Paul Nardone, President and CEO of Stirrings - the fast growing Fall River based company that makes premium cocktail mixers - reports that the company has teamed up with Delta Airlines to develop signature drinks with Stirrings products to be served in-flight. One of the drinks, the Big Apple, is Woodford Reserve and Stirrings Apple Martini Mixer.

MADE in the USA
Basil Hayden's
Pappy Van Winkle
Thomas Handy
Old Overholt


Just as in fashion, bygone cocktails have a way of coming back into style. Right now we're in the throes of a full-on classic cocktail renaissance. Mixologists are digging through vintage cocktail books for long-forgotten gems to add to their menus. They're finding cocktails that put a premium on bitters and vermouth. Instead of liberal use of simple syrup, as was de rigueur in so many technicolored cocktails over the past two decades, sophisticated herbal liqueurs are often used as sweeteners. "Liqueurs have sugar content," explains Ryan of Liquid Relations. "A lot of the time you just need liqueur against citrus acid and you've got a good cocktail. It's a balancing agent and also as an accent."

"People are rediscovering what's old is new," said Brandy Toth, Bacardi USA's Field Marketing Manager for New England. "With the advent of the martini craze, vermouth is back and part of classic cocktails. Our brands, like B&B and Drambuie, are coming back in cocktails. We've had quite a few more placements. And there are all kinds of bitters and vermouths sitting on back bars now. More bartenders are digging up the history and quirkiness of brands." Chris Himmel, Vice President of American Food Management, which owns and operates Excelsior, Grill 23 and Harvest in Harvard Square adds, "Years ago I toyed around with perfume bottles and misting vermouth. Now people are more accepting of vermouth - they're not shy about having it in their martinis anymore.

I can walk around the restaurant and see tables where half the people are having dirty martinis." The recently expanded menu at Eastern Standard has egg drinks set apart in their own "oeuf" category, harking back to an era when ordering a "flips" or "sour" was as common as a Jack and Coke is today. Around Easter, Misty Kalkofen, bar manager at Green Street in Cambridge, also introduced a two-fold egg drink list. The first segment is dubbed "The Whites of their Eyes" and the other is "The Yolk's on You", with cocktails incorporating the egg's second half. Months earlier, she helped Green Street owner Dylan Black devise a menu he calls "Cocktails A to Z", an expansive list of vintage gems, many of which are sweetened with Pastis. He favors Ricard as a rinse in drinks like The Fascinator (Plymouth Gin, French Vermouth, Ricard, and mint). But it's not only the small cocktail-centric establishments that draw clientele for their cocktail lists. Corporations are hitching their wagons to the classic stars. "Bars are operating more like wine bars," says Ryan. He notes that people who go to wine bars are decidedly focused on the product. Whereas the purpose of a bar has long been a social forum with alcohol as the accessory, he says the explosion of artisanal cocktails has driven people to make decisions of where to go based on whose cocktails they want to drink. In addition to training the staff at the Oak Bar at the Fairmont Copley, he's worked with McCormick & Schmick's to integrate vintage cocktails to the restaurant on a corporate level. "McCormick and Schmick's didn't have an identity for their bar, so I proposed to them a way to [present] their bar through cocktail history," he says, explaining that he rewrote the manual for the company, developed drier, more consistent recipes, and trained their trainers. "It's the evolution of palatial entertainment. Why can't cocktails be at the same level of complexity as food?"

With the popularity of classic, well-crafted cocktails, people are keen on unleashing their inner mixologist at home. Mike at Yankee Spirits says Martini and Rossi Dry is already up 5% from the same period last year. "Everything on the cocktail side is big, which is amazing," says Carri at BRIX. "People come in and ask: 'Do you have the stuff to make a Sazerac? A Sloe Gin Fizz?' Places that used to make tutti-fruity drinks are going back to the basics.

Bars are starting to stock more bitters than just Angustora." Consequently, BRIX has been special ordering Peychaud and Regan's Bitters. As of the end of May, she said they've reordered 12-packs of Regan's twice. "There's different uses for different bitters. It all ties into the rise of rye whiskey." Accordingly, BRIX initiated the BRIX Mix in March. Each month, the "to-go" cocktail package features all the ingredients required to make the month's selected cocktail. When it launched in March, the featured drink was the Brooklyn and the package included full size bottles of Rittenhouse Rye, Nolly Prat, Luxardo Cherry Liqueur, and Amer Picon. They sold out by mid-month.


In the increasingly crowded vodka arena, pear, it seems, is the next blueberry. At the end of 2OO6, Absolut introduced Absolut Pears. With a great amount of fanfare, Grey Goose released La Poire in February. Considered more refreshing than raspberry or blueberry vodkas by many in the industry, it's been making a solid showing on- and off-premise. At Om in Harvard Square, within three months of putting Grey Goose La Poire on the shelf, bartender Matt Szymanski featured it in two cocktails. The Sassy Miss is La Poire, Mathilde Pear Liqueur and Lillet Rouge, and the more recently added Wham Bam Siam is La Poire, pear and mango juice and a dollop of Sriracha, a Thai hot sauce for spice. "It's a good flavor for the casual drinker, for someone who's not into the classic martini," says Matt. "It's a soft fruit flavor so it's easy to get into. Whenever people ask for something fruity, the Sassy Miss is one I go for all the way. Plus pear is such a light, mellow fruit - it's easy to cover a wide range of tastes. It's what you drink when you don't want to feel like you're drinking." At Finz in Dedham, the Blood Diamond is a mix of Grey Goose La Poire, Cointreau, blood orange puree, a splash of fresh sour mix, and an orange sugar rim. "Mistral always has always had a pear martini," says Dawn with Commonwealth Restaurant Group. "We tried to wean it off the drink list but that didn't work." At Teatro they offer the Belle d'Anjou - La Poire, Belle de Brillet and Limoncello topped with a Prosecco float.

Keeping right up with the current trends, the Stirrings company is taking cues from the market. "People can expect to see a pear product from us soon," says President and CEO Paul Nardone. "Pear is an idea from the spirit companies with traction. The pear vodkas from Grey Goose and Absolut caught our attention. Bartenders find them to be interesting products. If they have a pear mixer, then there's more usage application to pear spirits out there." Every year, it seems that a new flavor aims to be the next big thing. Last season when Stoli Blueberi made its big breakout, that flavor was talk of the town. But even with pear making its presence boldly known, it seems that pomegranate is still holding its ground. "We don't have pomegranate printed on the menu at Mistral, but we have the ingredients. There and at Sorellina we get enough requests that we don't have to print it," said Dawn, adding that they mix a pomegranate margarita at Sorellina, too. That could be a good signal of what's to come. According to Brandy with Bacardi, "Whatever happens in the non-alcoholic beverage sector crosses over to the alcoholic sector. We're seeing a lot of acai and goji berry in vitamin waters, teas and juices. They could find themselves in more creative martinis."

"We look at how to do things differently and play on flavor trends seen on spirit world or culinary world," says Paul at Stirrings. "Because of the strong response to pomegranate and blueberry, anti-oxidant fruits are more well known. Acai and currants are viewed favorably as well. We're always experimenting with ways to bring out interesting products."

Grey Goose La Poire
Absolut Pears


White may be the absence of color, but in the wine world, it's the presence of flavor. As consumers are becoming more attuned to wine, attention is shifting away from American chardonnays. T.J. Douglas, a sales rep with Avon-based Ruby Wines, says people are gravitating away from oaky buttery chardonnays in favor of unoaked varieties, especially from Western Australia. They come from a cool climate, so people are drawn to their great acidity. And they're crisp, refreshing and aromatic, which makes them a step away from the once ubiquitous Pinot Grigio. "I started to notice it at Teatro, then it started happening at Mistral: a lot of people were asking for unoaked chardonnays," says Dawn. She notes they've been selling quite a bit of Trevor Jones Virgin Chardonnay from Australia by the glass.

Austrian Gruner Veltliners have also become increasingly fashionable in the white wine category. "There's been an increase in requests for Gruner Veltliner," says Pete Hemenway, Wine Manager at Federal Wine and Spirits near the Financial District. "Gruner Veltliner is a go-to wine for food pairing. It does really well because it's so food-flexible that it boggles the mind," says Dawn, reeling off the food it goes with: arugala, pasta, chicken, and, because it's got great acidity and nice white pepper, fish. "We're definitely selling twice as much Gruner Veltliner as we used to," says Carri at BRIX. "Chefs love it because it's very versatile. It pairs with things that most wines retard, like leeks or asparagus. It's a good price by the glass and just a great Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday wine." She says BRIX sees a good deal of movement of Gruners in the under-$2O category, but she loves to plug Stephen Hall ($23.99), not least because of its Vino-Lok closure, the latest landmark in bottling technology. "It looks far more elegant than a screwcap or Stelvin closure. When you present it, it's more elegant," she says, adding that she ends up reusing the glass stopper with a rubber gasket on other bottles. It's starting to make a deeper dent in the industry, too. "It started off with Austrian wines - mostly Gruners. Now I'm seeing it on bottles of Cusamano from Italy. Those are the two I've seen it most on." "Vino-Lok is an entirely new stopper that I think is gonna be the wave of the future," said Gary Park. "It reseals. It looks like something out of a perfume bottle. Now it's owned and marketed by Alcoa. It's a whole lot nicer than screw caps. It'll still having a tough time being accepted, but this will be the answer that the screw cap wasn't."

Huber's Obere Steign
Leth Gruner Veltliner
Stephen Hall


Gone are the days when the mention of Spain evoked Rioja exclusively. For that, thanks are owed to the Spanish government's financial support of the nation's vineyard owners and the Spanish tourism board's successful efforts to drive up tourism. The country's high quality fruit-forward Spanish wines tend not to be heavily oaked. They're catching the attention of oenophiles who may have adopted a "been there, done that" stance toward Italy and France. "We're starting to get some really high quality wines from Spain that are reasonably priced," says T.J. with Ruby Wines. He says that wines that receive a 9O point rating from Robert Parker can retail for as little as $9.99. "Restaurants Tapeo, Toro and BarLola all have high quality Spanish wines. Wines of that quality from anywhere else in the world cost two to three times as much. Some are from vineyards older than France and Italy." Regions like Yecla, Rueda and Penedes are turning out summer and winter wines in different styles that spend less time in oak. They're considered "new world" as opposed to Rioja, which sticks to more tanic and dusty qualities.

Dellie Rex, wine instructor at New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier and Essex, Vermont, was the consultant to the government of Spain for its Wines from Spain program, handing New England for eight years in a stint that ended in 2OO3. In that time she saw awareness of Spanish wines grow and consumers' interest get more esoteric. "If someone's only going to spend $1O, get a wine with real regional character as opposed to lower priced mass produced wine from new world (Chile, Australia, California)," she says. "There's real regional character in wines from Spain - and Portugal - and people have gotten braver about trying them." That interest translates directly into off-premise sales. Mike at Yankee Spirits, says that after fifteen years in the business, this is the first time he's seen not one, but several Spanish wines break into Yankee's top ten best seller list. Segura Viudas, a brut reserve, is the first sparkling wine to position itself among both the top ten best selling sparkling wines and the top ten Spanish wines. "Provenance has driven Spanish wine," he says. "It's not as commercially developed yet and American consumers' exposure to it is relatively new. People are discovering it for the first time. It hasn't had an 'it' thing, like Beaujolais from France and Pinot Grigio from Italy. It's an authentic product from an authentic place - a real place making real wine for real people. People don't think of Spain as a mass production area."

Rex Hill
Segura Viudas (brut reserva)


In restaurants of all cuisines, people have been turning to a traditional style of European imbibing with aperitifs and digestifs. Erik at Sel de la Terre says he's been surprised at the popularity of Pineau des Charante and white Lillet. At the new Sage, Dave Stuart has about ten liqueurs at any given time listed on the dessert menu - including Fernet, Chartuese, Pimm's, Pernod, Lillet, Ricard, Dubonet, Strega, and Aquavit. Within the first month of being open, he says he went through two bottles of Averna. But while it's tied to an old world tradition, the herbal liqueurs are gaining an urban hip repute in some circles. Jagermeister, which established itself as a party staple decades ago, may have triggered that trend. Gary at Gary's Liquors describes Jagermeister as having a "cult mystique" while Mike at Yankee says Jagermeister continues to show more growth. Now, it seems, that interest has led to a willingness to experiment with other herbaceous liqueurs. "It's the liquor of moxie!" says Alan at Downtown, referring to Fernet Branca, fake absinthes and Chartreuse. "Pastis has been on fire lately. There's certainly a lotta old anise-driven cocktails out there." Want proof? No. 9 Park has seven different bottles of pastis. "It's always been popular as an aperitif [in France]. It shows the connectedness between the bar and the kitchen," says principal bartender John Gertsen. "The dining room is about classic technique of French cuisine." Gary remarks, "Absente is selling more than in the past. It still has that Van Gogh appeal to it. Plus, when it comes with slotted spoon and sugar cube it's a nice little show." On April 29, the new york times reported the New York debut of Veridian Spirits' Liquid, "which is being marketed as the first legal, genuine American absinthe in nearly a century." Looks like here in the Bay State the groundwork is already laid for its release. Some in the industry have already started buzzing about The Knot, a new 1OO proof Irish whiskey-based liqueur imported by William Grant and Son. Gary describes is as an Irish Southern Comfort. "It's 1OO proof, but it doesn't taste 1OO proof. You get vanilla and caramel," says Gary. "It looks like a hard core Irish whiskey until you try it. It's going to be big once people figure it out. It could be like Jagermeister with its cult mystique. Jager does very well, always. It's a big college thing. I think the Knot's got potential."

The Knot


Sake has been gaining steam in the past few years, but this year it's definitely been hit out of the park. "Sake has always been around, but so many people know it as the warm stuff with no flavor. What we're doing now is bringing in a lot of artisan sake," says T.J., noting that people are beginning to approach it as something to drink chilled in a wine glass or champagne flute. He also says that many sakes are available in 3OO milliliter bottles, so two people can go out and experiment with two - or more - different sakes. Jenny Chow, a co-owner at Douzo Restaurant & Lounge on Dartmouth Street in the South End, has seen a change in sales of the rice wine. "People want to have sake cold, not warm - the way all Japanese restaurants started introducing it. The trend totally changed," she says. "The percentage of people who want hot versus cold is about 34% versus 66%. But things have changed," she said, noting that in past years, about 7O% of sake drinkers were ordering sake hot. As people discover sake, the sheer variety of the stuff often blows them away. Leah Ikeda, General Manager at Pho Republique on Washington Street, has long made an effort to stock a diversity of different selections in an effort to help people understand how complex sake can be. "It's definitely peaking. The Japanese takeover of mainstream culture has made the audience wider," says Leah. "We have samples of each sake that every beginner sake adventurer should know." In addition to traditional sake, she was quick to list some more unconventional sakes that people should try, like Dreamy Clouds, a cloudy Nigori, which she describes as having a "chewy texture and crazy rice particles." Another one of note is Moon on the Water, made by the only female brewers in whole world - which is significant because 2O yars ago, women weren't allowed in the breweries. Perhaps one reason for the cachet is that these small bottles fetch as much as a bottle of wine. Moon on the Water fetches $34 for a 3OO milliliter bottle. She's also fast to recommend Fun Sake, an unpasteurized sake that arrived in the Boston market last year. A can fetches $12. Sake is also turning up in cocktails around town - either as the base, like in the Cherry Blossom Mojito at Pho (Kaori Sake, muddled with mint and sugar over ice with cherry concentrate syrup) - or as a floater, as it's used in the Thai Express at Sage. It's made with lemongrass-infused vodka. Dave likes the sake floater because "it's not an overwhelming flavor and it's clean and crisp and won't take over a drink." The Thai Express also exemplifies how the sake phenomenon has inspired bartenders to experiment with other Asian ingredients in all kinds of cocktails. At blu at The Sports Club/LA, the Spicy Effen Mojito features Thai chili ginger syrup. At Aujourd'hui in the Four Seasons, bartender Ari Bialikamien introduced a gimlet this season with Stoli Strawberi and fresh yuzu juice.

ON the FAST TRACKS from the EAST
Moon Rabbit
Sake Romance
Fukucho Moon on the Water Junmai Ginjo
Komachi Brewery Sparkling Nigori


Time was when you mentioned New Zealand in the beverage industry, it was assumed the conversation would be about Sauvignon Blanc. The South Pacific nation of islands has long been known for its tourism but not necessarily its export market. That seems to be changing. With a variety of beverages simultaneously catapulting the country's profile, it's easy to wonder how long it will be until ads for New Zealand vineyard tours start taking over the pages of the travel glossies. This year Bacardi USA bought 42 Below, which has been the number one super premium vodka in New Zealand and the number one premium vodka in Australia. Three flavors that are as attention-grabbing and exotic as the long unsung country are available: kiwi, fisoa and minuca honey. The buzz around its release literature has emphasized that it's made with New Zealand water, which holds the world's standard benchmark for air and water purity, which speaks to the modern consumer's demand for all things earth-friendly. But New Zealand's presence in the wine world is also expanding as their production and distribution of Pinot Noirs grows. According to Ryan Maloney at Julio's Liquors in Westborough, New Zealand Pinots are the fastest growing of his stock of southern hemisphere wines. Gary at Gary's Liquors says the interest is only in the nascent stages. "New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are still growing and the ever elusive Cloudy Bay disappears every time we get our hands on it. We're just starting to see an interest in New Zealand Pinot Noirs," he says. "We went from carrying one last year to seven or eight varieties now. I'm actually marking them in the pinot section - just to give a perspective. Some people are scared by them, so I merged New Zealand and California. Side by side it's a different perspective."

42 Below Vodka
Felton Road
Ata Rangi
Oyster Bay


After years of being pegged with a limp reputation, roses are red hot. Erik at Sel de la Terre, saw a clear upsurge in interest of rose last year and anticipates it being "enormously big" this year. "People are over their fear and trepidation. Pink is the most misunderstood wine color in the US. People expect it to be sweet like a white zinfandel, which is not the norm. Most of the world's production of roses are dry style. When you're dealing with rose, you get the best of white and red - the crisp, refreshing of white, earthy underpinning, robustness of a red. Because it has a foot in each camp, it goes well with lots of food. Rose is great because is the only thing that pairs with ketchup," he deadpans. "Imported roses continue to amaze me that they're on the comeback," says Gary. "Definitely pretty much since we opened we've been a big rose store," says Carri at BRIX. "We used to carry 15 to 25. This year it's closer to 25. We sell 1OOs of cases of rose. Retailers and restaurants are driving it, exposing it. Just because it's pink doesn't mean it's sweet. I was doing a private tasting this spring and I included a rose. It's so important when you have people's undivided attention [to] explain: this is why it's not sweet, because a lot of times people will say it isn't something they'd pick off the shelf if someone hadn't pointed it out to them."

Jean-Luc Colombo
Simi Wines Roseto


Sometimes a bartender's best ally is a chef. Electrifying results can come of the synergy between chefs and mixologists. Bartenders are increasingly using the kitchen for more than just the fresh fruit to make juices. They're teaming up with chefs to create ingredients for innovative drinks. Chris Himmel of American Food Management says the bartenders at each restaurant work with pastry chefs, sous chefs and executive chefs to develop premium cocktail ingredients like strawberry reduction, peach, blueberry, and strawberry purees. Ari Bialikamien, bartender at Aujord'hui in the Four Seasons, often works with Chef de Cuisine William Kovel, who orders exotic ingredients for him to use at the bar, like cumquats and edible flowers. At blu in the Sports Club/LA, the kitchen, fronted by Executive Chef Michael Kraus, has been supplying cocktail ingredients, from various extracts to blueberry water to sugar-dusted fried sage, the latter two of which are used in the potato vodka-based Po' Boy. Jason Santos, Executive Chef at Gargoyles in Somerville, applied his culinary wizardry to the cocktail list when he put the Beet and Aloe Sangria on his menu in May. The concoction is chilled with a few spoonfuls of liquid nitrogen, which he's been playing around with in dishes on the dinner menu.

In the off-premise realm, the homemade craze has been integrated in to the BRIX Mix. "Everyone now has house-made infusions," says Carri. "We're using house-made simple syrup in the BRIX Mix. In the Whiskey Smash Mix, you get a muddler, fresh mint, lemon, bottle of rye."

Here today, gone tomorrow? It's as mysterious as the formula for Chartreuse. You never know when the next film/song/cultural figurehead will step in to change the tide. Trends are, by nature, ephemeral. Achieving "warhorse" status is the perpetual challenge. While consumers these days seem to be clinging to products and cocktails that have a legacy or tell a story, the public always seems ready to be seduced by new flavors and concepts. If a product is well crafted and can capture the attention of savvy bartenders - who in turn capture the attention of an increasingly educated public - you may just have the seeds for longevity. If bartenders and the neighborhood liquor store owner can push it and the public can take it, then maybe the trendy can become timeless.

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