We haven't had this conversation in a while, and I think it's high time! What are the beverage trends you're seeing in your market right now, and what do you think is ahead?
Here are a few to get us started... I think younger consumers are more curious than ever to learn, evidenced by the market for classes, consumer-oriented books on wine, and expert-driven wine clubs, as well as the ongoing success of sites like Madeline Puckette's Wine Folly. "Unique" grapes are still cool, perhaps an evolution of earlier enthusiasm around natural wine, orange wine, etc. Restaurants seem to be tipping back toward fine dining.
What do you think?
Vermouth is very on trend. Funny, since it would have been at the absolute bottom of the cool list just a few years ago. I quite like a vermouth and soda aperitif, so it's not a trend I mind at all—unless the trend takes it towards increasingly extreme styles.
I am quite pleased about this trend—multiple types of Spanish vermouth on a list?! Delightful! But, like many things, I think it will be slower to gain traction with a broad audience. Last time I sat at a bar enjoying vermouth, I got multiple questions from strangers. Over the holidays, I shared some reserva vermouth with my sister-in-law, who was a little puzzled—it reminded her of what she used to sneak out of her parents' liquor cabinet, she said. My explanation that it was the same thing did little to lessen her confusion...!
Good vermouth is about the best value going in wine. Given how little you have to use compared to a glass pour when you're drinking it with soda, it equates to a $6-8 bottle of wine and yet is so much more delicious.
What's more, back in 08, when the economy was tanking and the Haus Alpenz products were just coming into my market, I did a taste test where we blind tasted some regular bar customers on a martini and manhattan, one each made with top-shelf base spirit and what we'd been using for our vermouth vs one made with our well base spirit and some of these better vermouths. To a person, they chose the one made with the better vermouth.Of course, the drink with the well base spirit (keep in mind our well isn't generic crap, but still much cheaper than top-shelf) was much cheaper overall. It was then that I realized that vermouth makes the drink and started looking for more.
It's exciting now, how many are being brought even to my b-level market.