Whenever I am asked to predict the future of my year and industry, I find myself having a lot of conversations with my peers.
I have always been of the thought that you need to expand on your own ideas by simply “putting them out there”. After a flurry of emails and my personal touch, here is a simple five predictions that I would take to the bank here in Canada.
1) The year of Gin
Each year seems to take a different focus. 2011 was the year of Whiskey and 2010 likely shared the title with Rum & Bourbon Whiskey. Predicting the “year of gin” is easily a mathematic decision, it is the close 4th place in global sales, snuggled behind, you guessed it, Whiskey, Vodka, and Rum.
It seems that every other day I am hearing about a new botanical added to a pot stilled spirit, and I am certainly a fan. Here in Canada, the west coast is making waves with the likes of PHROG and Victoria Gin (the oaken is glorious). *Of note; this predictor, based in a simple phenomenon I am seeing while tending bar: The average “Gin Nay-sayer” has never been more willing to give it a try THANKS TO TANQUERAY maybe?
Head south and lookout for the charismatic “The 86 Company” combining some bartending legends with a purpose & the prince of gin’s namesake spirit. FORD’S Gin is a force in the growing gin world.
2) “#Pop-Up” Becomes a day-to-day concept
I will admit, I simply love this concept from both sides of the bar. From the consumer perspective, you are part of something special to just be included, because the offering and seating is limited. You are typically “forced” into the hands of the chef and bartender at the whim of planned perfection, coursed glory and a unique experience that may never happen again. From the operators postition, you can add value to a space, earn a pretty penny for you, the brand and even an NPO, should you decide to take this approach. Connie DeSousa & John Jackson of Calgary’s infamous “Charcut” have taken the concept full force with “CHARpop” adding value to the culinary community and the much-needed fundraising for food related charities. We have also been “popping-up” from the Museum of Contemporary Art to now at the High Performance Rodeo.
3) Bartender & Chef run operations
In an unpredictable economy, two truths have presented themselves in our industry; 1) The idea of “Craft” or hand-made has never been cooler and more “earthly” and 2) In times of stress and uncertainty, Alcohol becomes a stronger commodity. Truism’s aside, this is the economy of “smaller is better”, and the restaurant industry has learned this lesson over the last 2 years. We have been humbled by the success of the truly “craft” run operations, where labour and overheads minimized and the perspiration and margins maximized. As a consumer: You “feel” great to work with a small team for your experience, everything feels personalized and special. As an operator: You can trim the fat, remove the “monster” that is your enormous orders and rooms and get back to basics, with truly seasonal, and limited ingredients that come and go.
4) Death of the old “nightclub”
Oh please… In the pre 2010 world, the 2000’s I guess, we saw a resurgence for the “nightclub” in Canada. It was a small revisit to the late 80’s and 90’s heyday for the “night scene”. You see less and less of these staying open and a seemingly better use of space is on the horizon. I guess I need to clear up what I mean by “nightclub”. The scourge on our industry that they were. The ones with microwave meat pies, and sausage rolls, to be sure to meet the “smallest food need” to have a liquor license. The ones with everything served in plastic cups and “10 for 1” deals on shooters on Tuesdays “Ladies night”. You know the place. The consumer demands more; a basic and hearty food offering, a cocktail served in a glass, a trust with the bartender and manager. Here is to hoping.
What will take its place? Well run, blended “clubs” with exciting cocktails, food that is worth the fare, and no more god damn plastic cups.
5) Classic Cocktails meets simple fusion, again
It has never been “cooler” to be behind the wood of a bar. We are cusping on a time that was the “heyday” of creation and the “craft” bartending. Classic cocktails have seen a major resurgence. You know this. But the demand for great variations and simple changes is upon us. Gone is the “cool” factor of 30 ingredient cocktails, when we all realized you couldn’t make a solid Manhattan to save your life. Likely due to the growing popularity of Bitters. They are everywhere again, you cook with them, you mix with them and you can make them yourself, easily. A demand measured, classic cocktails with small simple modern variations is here to stay and 2013 will showcase how “Classic” your skills are.