Cocktails: Getting It Desperately, Desperately Wrong

I subscribe to every newsletter delivered by my man Gary Regan, mixologist and cocktail whisperer par excellence, and usually trust in his ability to point me in the right direction, regardless of what I’m searching for. So when this morning’s Ardent Spirits eLetter contained a link to a story headlined “Top 5 Cocktail Trends for 2011,” I followed it, all the way to the Huffington Post.

The post is bylined “The Spirit” and links to a website called thespir.it, a cocktail site with which I’m unfamiliar and, on the basis of the HuffPost story, am in no rush to get to know. Why? Well, let’s begin with the piece’s first predicted “trend,” that being the return of Four Loko and other stimulant-fuelled alcoholic beverages, which is: a) Not a cocktail trend at all; and b) Not something anyone schooled in the current state of alcohol policy in the U.S. would ever bet on.

Trend number two seems a bit more promising,. Until you get to the prediction of “Yoo-hoo with alcohol” – gakk! – and the seriously dated – say, three years ago – prediction of a trend towards “healthy cocktails.” O for 2, Spirit.

“Herbal Infusions” is prediction number three, and like number four, “Better Bitters,” it’s at least relevant, if a couple of years too late. And so we end with prediction five, which is so woefully misguided that I actually start to feel sorry for The Spirit.

It’s not that “The Next Generation” is completely off the mark, since there is no question that a new generation of cocktail bars is growing around us and has been so doing for a good half-decade now, but to identify “Portland, Philadelphia and Miami” as places where, in cocktail terms, there are “ different expectations, less noise, and more room for the new and exciting to thrive” is missing the boat entirely. Sure, Philly and Miami are less developed than, say, Seattle or San Francisco, but Portland? Come on, pound for pound the City of Roses can match almost any cocktail Mecca, and while the City of Brotherly Love may still be best known for beer, cocktails aren’t doing too bad there, either.

And that last line, about Latino cocktails sweeping the country in the coming year? Um, ever heard of the Mojito?

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