Freelance Food & Drinks Writer

Guessing at 2012

What will 2012 bring for the drink-minded? It’s a bit of a guessing game, but I’m looking forward to writing more about shrubs, drinking vinegars and all things sour. Local spirits like those Lenexa’s Dark Horse Distillery is laying down. Drinks entrepreneurs such as Travis Stewart and Jason Burton. The inaugural Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival in August. And let’s not forget the city’s burgeoning coffee and beer scenes.

There’s sure to be a lot going on. Some of it keeps us movin’ in the same direction—interesting, well-made spirits and cocktail ingredients, along with skilled and creative mixing. Some not—more flavored spirits and pre-packaged “cocktails.” Here’s a round-up of the predictions:

• Beverage marketing maestro Jason Burton of The Lab expects more of all this: garden-grown bar ingredients, guest bartenders, good cocktail books, bar-to-bar collaborations and bartender-branded products.

Serious Eats says we’ll see more savory and sour cocktails, while The Daily Meal predicts cocktails on tap, more local spirits and house-made ingredients (is that even possible?) and better hospitality.

• Jason Wilson, author of Boozehound and a columnist for The Washington Post, forsees continued growth in flavored vodkas and whiskies, as well as a shift from high falutin’ mixology to hospitality as bartenders welcome a new generation of spirits-savvy drinkers.

• Spice & Ice author Kara Newman compiled a longer list of trends. More rum will flow, and when we’re not drinking it we’ll be reading about it in Got Rum?, a new online magazine. There will be plenty of new style gins, more bad flavored spirits and more cocktail events than you can shake a stick at.

• Upscale’s the thing, according to Restaurant Management Magazine. We’re apparently still thirsty for more vintage beers, super-premium spirits and big-batch cocktails.

• Jeffrey Morgenthaler, a Portland-based bartender, touched off the current craze for barrel-aged cocktails, so it’s possible his interest in bottling carbonated cocktails might also gain steam.

Richard Goldsmith of Fox News sees more of the same: more classic spirits and recipes, more prepackaged drinks, more barrel aging.

• Kansas City itself is even a culinary trend, according to Saveur magazine’s editor-in-chief, James Oseland. As he told, KC’s “now poised to reinvigorate itself and position the city as a new culinary destination.” And all those chefs know they need a solid bar program in their restaurants.

But the No. 1 trend bartenders here are hoping becomes all the rage? Extravagant tipping. Given everything they’re doing to make sure we’ve got something good in our glasses, they certainly deserve it.