Since my last post I’ve gone and got myself a new job. I’ve learnt a heck of a lot about wine in the last six years but I wanted a change and to broaden my boozy horizons. I bagged a great job with a company that not only loves wine but is mad about spirits too. I thought I’d got a decent grasp on spirits; from work and of course drinking plenty. How wrong I was! I’d barely scratched the surface. This is good though because learning about liquor always means lots of sampling, so as you can imagine, I got stuck right in.
2016 was a historic year. Lots of crap, not enough good. You know the details. In years to come, the answer to every pub quiz question will be 2016.
The alcohol industry; however, was on top form. The Negroni hit the big time, massively. This pleased me greatly, not only is it delicious but it’s helped to confirm what I’ve been saying for years; Vermouth is where it’s at. I will be dedicating a whole post to this shortly. It’s basically just three ingredients, proving once again that simplicity can sometimes be key. Equal measures of Campari (bitter), Vermouth Rosso (sweet) and Gin (liquid of the gods), mix over ice and throw in some orange peel and hey presto, you’re done. Bartenders are having a play around with this classic, barrel-aged Negronis are a big thing now, as well as other twists on the original. Experimenting is all part of the fun with cocktails, long may this continue.
As with each year that passes, people are becoming a lot more open when it comes to wine. I couldn’t be happier. Orange wine took off in 2016; restaurants and bars put it proudly on their lists and people got curious. It is a white wine essentially but made in a similar way to red wine, the juice from the grapes is left in contact with the skins so colour, flavour and tannins are extracted. The result is a wine with complexity, spice and the kind of thing that you drink and go ‘huh, I rather like that’.
Gin is still going wild and getting ever more popular but now other spirits are trying to get in on the action. Vodka wants a piece of the pie and people are going off the beaten track to find different raw materials to turn into alcohol. Take Black Cow for example; they produce the world’s only pure milk vodka. It’s smooth, creamy, flavoursome and unlike anything else. People’s creativity when it comes to alcohol can be astonishing.
I’m feeling very hopeful about 2017. The drinks industry is looking pretty damn sexy; it’s flirting with all sorts of new ideas and is confidently strutting around showing everyone who’s boss. I’m expecting big things. Underrated wines will finally get the recognition they deserve (this is your year, Portugal!), bars will continue to innovate their cocktails and drinking experiences as a whole. And finally, as always, we will all be pleasantly surprised by some crazy drink that sounds hideous in principle but is weirdly nice, black truffle vodka anyone?