Although trends are ultimately a fleeting thing, that doesn’t mean it isn’t any less exciting to see which new fads emerge as well as which old ones are revived. So far 2018 has been a mecca of fresh ideas and discoveries. Witnessing these cultural changes with a front-row seat is the alcohol industry. With introductions to never-before-seen or -tasted flavors and rejuvenated markets, it’s no wonder these are some of the hottest alcohol trends thus far in 2018.
In 2018, bartenders swap out the sugar with salt to give more complex and sharper cocktails to their patrons. Vegetables no longer have to wait for a Bloody Mary or Gibson when there are options like carrot mimosas or kale martinis out there during happy hour. There’s a growing number of savory cocktails that push the boundaries as well with mixologists opting for more unique ingredients such as squid ink, beef, or peanut syrup.
Mexican Imported Beer
The Marketing Insider called Mexican beer the new domestic. As younger demographics come to ample drinking age, their enthusiasm for non-U.S. flavors grows too—not to mention parts of the older U.S. demographics that remain loyal to their favorite Mexican lager. Craft breweries are taking advantage of this as many in the U.S. embark on their first ventures into Mexican-style brews.
New England IPAs
While some American-style beers are faltering in popularity, New England IPAs are becoming more and more in demand. Also called “Hazy” IPAs, these brews are known for bold flavors and pungent aromas. When clarity in a beer was once the most sought-after, thought to be a sign of purity in the brew, that thinking’s turned into old news. New England IPAs get their nickname from not being exposed to the filtration or pasteurization process, resulting in hazy being the new trendy.
Class in a can, canned wine keeps popping up more in grocery stores and markets. This is canned wine’s second time trying its hand at the market; 2016 saw a 125 percent increase in sales of aluminum-encased wine, resulting in $14.5 million in sales. That’s nothing two years later when industry sales bumped up to $28 million. Though it may fall under the category of trends dipped in irony, but the bulk of canned wine’s success is due to the approachability of it. No need to open a whole bottle of wine or feel obligated to finish it—no wasting a drop, right? They’re easier to transport during road trips and picnics as well. Wine in a can takes on a casual, summery new look that will surely ease into our lives and hands eventually.
Ultra-Premium Tequila and Mezcal
Respect for Tequila and Mezcal grows steady in 2018, with an escalation not in premium Tequilas like 1800 but instead ultra-premium Tequilas and Mezcals. With new buyers and plans for expansion, it looks like this super-premium side of Mezcals and Tequilas isn’t going to be slowing down anytime soon. Sipping ultra-premium Tequilas like George Clooney and Rande Gerber’s brand Casamigos or Pierde Almas Mezcal (which was recently purchased by industry leader Diageo) is a great way to start yourself on this journey.
Nowadays, drinkers find themselves growing curious about not just what they’re drinking but the process that brought the drink to their hands. This has resulted in breweries, distilleries, and wineries alike either opening or expanding on tasting rooms. Pop-up satellite tastings are becoming more common as well—a perfect opportunity for a growing operation to expose its product without the money and commitment required to have a fully functional and permanent space. These tasting rooms add an experience to what drinkers are consuming, strengthening the bond they have between the spirit, wine, or beer that much more.
The 2018 year remains kind to the puckered side of the palate, as sour beers become a staple in any beer connoisseur’s flight. Sour brewskis, when done right, create a different kind of beer experience; arguably, the wild yeast and natural bacteria in this line of brews exposes the taste buds to a more “adult” flavor, as if the drink’s gone through a maturing process. Either way, you either love or hate a sour beer. From the looks of it, most consumers love this 2018 trend.
Much less unsanitary than it sounds, compost cocktails aren’t only trending, they’re helping cut down on waste. Mixologists gather any fruit rinds, leftover herb stems, and other kitchen scraps that would otherwise be thrown out and create lovely cocktail garnishes. This leads to more creative flavors in the drink themselves, as a bartender attempts to match the flavors of a cocktail with crushed lavender leaves and lime peels. It’s sustainability served in a glass—how “2018” is that?
With cannabis’ legalization in the U.S., beer-makers are getting the ball rolling on combining two of young people’s favorite things: weed and brews. Bars in big metropolises are slowly adding beer to their menus that partner a little high with your buzz, though non-high-inducing CBD-infused beers and drinks aren’t anything new. The cannabis industry’s global commercial market’s projection should reach $31.4 billion by the year 2021, and smart brewmasters are taking advantage of this market shift, sustaining the trend. Infusing beer with cannabis hasn’t been put to the test in many places so far this year, but with more and more success coming out of brewers’ batches, it won’t be at all surprising to see these high-drunk hybrids popping up by the end of 2018.
For a good while, hard ciders received a bad rap—the worst suggesting that anyone who knows how to drink would never choose a hard apple cider. Now, however, the luck of these drinks are changing with enhanced recipes, new flavors, and added layers of complexity. The favorability of the cider’s humble apple has always paled in comparison to the hops of craft beers and grapes of wines comprised of the same category. These days, with craft ciders such as Angry Orchard’s Rosé Cider coming to market, the apple finally reaches the trend status it’s deserved