Entertainment & Activities, Food & Drink

Cocktail Mix

Photo credit: The Food NetworkPhoto credit: The Food Network

Given that we’re all gourmet aficionados now, what we’re drinking is just as important as what we’re eating. Quality, flavour and presentation are key.

Here’s what’s trending in cocktails now:

Make It A Classic: Vintage cocktails such as an Old Fashioned, Gin Rickey, and Whiskey Sour take socializing back in time with clever twists and culinary-style “plating” of garnishes in the glass.

Try The Amber: Bourbon is rocking the bar scene, making a run at scotch’s stronghold. Kentucky’s liquid gold is definitely on the tasting books for 2014. Watch for bourbon to not only fill glasses but to also infuse food flavours.

Celebrate bourbon neat or in a cocktail. Photo credit: Host the ToastCelebrate bourbon neat or in a cocktail. Photo credit: Host the Toast

Pucker Up: Move over sweet: Dry and bitter are tickling taste buds with cocktails such as the Negroni, and liqueurs like Campari and Pernod catching interest. Lemon, tagged as a 2014 food flavour, may also have a cocktail reach.

Craft Spirits Vs Big Brand: Move over premium brands as craft distilling shows its hand at producing everything from whiskey, gin, vodka, rum and other hard liquor. The name of the game is artisanal pride and local ingredients.

Brew Ha Ha: There’s no sign that the popularity of micro- and macro-brews is slowing down as beer lovers continue to explore the ever-growing availability of local, small-batched and artful suds.

Photo credit: Kristen Jordan/Sea CiderPhoto credit: Kristen Jordan/Sea Cider

Cider Rules: Apples are falling not far from the micro-brew tree as cider follows the craft beer trend. Local producers are using a full spectrum of techniques and flavours to produce a range of terroir-influenced hard ciders. Helping further rake in the popularity vote — most ciders are gluten-free.

Soda Goes Pop: Soda, too, is going the way of small-batch production, hand-crafted and bottled in-house for added flavour intensity for enjoying on their own and or as mixers.

Artisanal distilleries such as Still Water are on the upswingArtisanal distilleries such as Still Water are on the upswing

Bottles Up: Gourmet twist and serve cocktails are set to leap beyond wine coolers. Watch for a spate of new culinary-quality releases in the liquor store. Cutely bottled custom-crafted single-serve sippers will also make the event and bar scenes.

Market Fresh: Mixologists worth their shaker also wear a chef’s hat using ingredients such as herbs, veggies and spices for house-crafted syrups, herb-infused booze and bitters, and kitchen techniques such as brining for garnishes.

Watch for bottled Watch for bottled “culinary” cocktails such as Crazy Uncle’s cola bitter & mint julep

Beyond A Cuppa: Tea-infused spirits are lending a fresh twist to drink menus. Green, bergamot, hibiscus and jasmine teas add exotic nuanced flavours to staples such as mojitos and beyond.

Mexican Uptake: Where tacos are tequila follows. The city’s current love affair with finding the penultimate fish taco goes hand-in-hand with exploring Mexico’s other famous export, tequila and mescal, for enjoyment straight up or in cocktails.

Healthy Juice: If juice is in the mix, fresh-pressed and house-made is the choice of cocktail connoisseurs. Veggie-based “green” juices are also moving in on what was once the domain of fruit.

Ice cubed fruit infuses flavourIce cubed fruit infuses flavour

Ice It!: Drinks on the rocks amp up the visual aesthetic with ice cube-encased fruit and edible flowers that infuse subtle flavours. Hand-chiseled pieces, ice balls and other moulded shapes are also appearing in the glass.