Looking Forward: 2021 Spirit TrendsBy Matt Strickland
Wouldn’t it be great if we all had a little Nostradamus in us? We could soothsay and prognosticate our way to financial and personal bliss. Of course, the most noble of us would use our divine powers of clairvoyance to aid the liquor world. After all, we know what’s really important. Just for fun, let’s attempt to do a little short-term augury of our own. After the mental and emotional tire fire that was 2020, we could probably all use a little dose of hope and optimism. And what’s more hopeful or optimistic sounding than dreaming of a few drinks with friends? So here are my best guesses for 2021 spirits trends.
Will this finally be rum’s year?
Every year rum distillers get together and commiserate on their plight. Always a bridesmaid and never a bride to whiskey and vodka. And with the faintest traces of hope, rum distillers always say this will be the year that rum breaks through. And every year they are proven wrong.
However, after the hellish fever dream of a pandemic year, rum could finally be taken seriously by the masses. It offers a form of wistful escapism that few other spirits can match. Not only does it serve as the liquid anchor to tropical tiki drinks, but many distillers are putting considerable effort into premium expressions that can compete with whiskey and brandy, and usually for a fraction of the price.
Look no further than Plantation Rum’s Vintage Series for unique tastes of far-flung locales. Or Foursquare Distillery and its 11-year-old Zinfandel Cask Blend which is a blend of rums matured in zinfandel wine casks and ex-bourbon casks, creating a clever mix red fruit and tropical notes.
Finally, if you prefer your rums made in a more northerly climate, do yourself the pleasure and pick up any of the offerings from Privateer Rum. Maggie Campbell and her crew do exceptional work, producing authentic New England rums that nimbly showcase what the category can do outside of the island nations where it is most known.
Calvados and Apple Brandies
Here’s something that everyone will be saying by the end of 2021: a calvados a day will keep the doctor at bay. Maybe not. But France’s famed apple brandy is poised to take a staring role in our 2021 spirits trends.
When you are furloughed into a pandemic-induced staycation for weeks (or months) on end, you have a lot of free time on your hands. Time that can be spent having a few drinks and learning all you can about your newest geeky fixation, whatever that may be. Calvados is the perfect spirit for such obsessive endeavors.
The Norman apple brandy is produced from dozens of apple varieties, and in the Domfrontais region you’ll even find a few pears in your spirit. There are a few large négociants and blenders exporting quality bottlings to North American shops, but there is also a growing number of smaller producers getting their wares on the shelves of your favorite store. Look for names like Adrien Camut, Roger Groult and Eric Bordelet for pomme fruit bliss.
Of course, if you want something produced on the American side of the pond, you have bushels of apple brandies to choose from. A personal high-end favorite is the apple brandy from Osocalis in California. This is about as close to Normandy you can get without a plane ticket. Or if you want something that is more cocktail friendly, search out the apple brandy from Copper and Kings. And don’t forget Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy Bottled in Bond for something that’s even better than Grandma’s apple pie (produced by one of the oldest distilleries in America to boot).
The Rise of the Home Bar
Remember bars? You know, those places we all used to go on a Friday night for an after-work tipple with a few friends. The bar and restaurant industry has seriously suffered under the weight of the pandemic. By some estimates over 110,000 restaurants and bars closed either temporarily or permanently in the US during 2020.
With many folks left with no options for the stress and pressure relief that only a good bar can provide, 2021 may prove to be the year of the home bar. And many of these will likely become more than a just few barstools next to a ply board table. This year the drinking den inspired denizens of the world will invest some serious time and money into building out their home bars with decorations, games, and of course, booze.
If this is the kind of project you are at all interested in, let the internet be your friend here. There are countless resources online for building out every kind of home bar imaginable. Dreaming of tiki and a tropical oasis in your garage? You can do it. Want a cozy sports bar feel? Mount up that big screen and set up some cocktails on tap. Your options are limited only by your imagination, wallet, and possibly your homeowner’s association.
After 2020, many of us just want a break … from anything. Responsibly enjoying spirits provides many people with simple fleeting reprieves from the calamities going on outside our home walls. Let’s hope 2021 finds us on more positive footing. And one final prediction: glass in hand, we’ll all get through this together.
Interested in trying some of these 2021 spirit trends?
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