Last night, City Pages' first ever Cocktailian event took over the Varsity Theater, proving that local fervor for craft cocktails isn't going anywhere.
All of the excitement led us to reflect on 2014's big cocktail trends as we sipped our Whiskey Sours, Old Cedars, and Gamle Ode Fashioneds. Here are our favorite cocktail trends of 2014 and a few predictions for 2015.
See also: Why we hate His and Her drinks
1. Big cocktail themed events and competitions In addition to events like the very first Cocktailian, the year saw the rise in popularity of the Iron Bartender and Most Imaginative Bartender competitions in town. It's no longer simply a taproom town -- the spirits have come and they aren't going away soon.
2. Everyone, and we mean everyone, is making homemade mixers now. Bittercube was an early proponent of making one's own bitters and other noted local bartenders have been creating their own tonics, shrubs, and more for quite a while. But 2014 saw this happening at neighborhood watering holes, farmers markets -- and even in people's homes.
3. Bottled cocktails We saw this at Borough, Hola Arepa and Marche to name a few. It's a great way to have tasty, sophisticated drinks even if there isn't time to make them individually.
4. Bartenders getting us to drink gin and/or rum drinks We've all been known to get a little lost in our brown liquors, namely the whiskeys, bourbons, and ryes, especially with temperatures bottoming out for several months of the year. But our tireless friends behind the bar spent 2014 reminding us that there are things other than Old Fashioneds and Manhattans to get us through. Aviations, perfect gin martinis, and Tiki cocktails (thank you Eat Street Social) are all viable alternatives that we're finally branching out and embracing.
As for 2015, here are some things we're looking forward to:
1. Cocktail rooms run by distilleries This is a done deal with Vikre open in Duluth and 11 Wells coming in the spring, and several others nipping on their heels.
2. Making formerly tacky drinks and shots respectable and upscale Robb Jones at Spoon and Stable has already taken the Cosmopolitan to new heights. Now think of a reworked fuzzy navel or lemon drop. Delish.
3. Punches Lyn65 is ahead of the curve on this with a rotating house punch. The milk punch is delicious.
4. Tequila As with this year's crush on gin and rum cocktails, we're hoping to see a love affair with tequila in 2015. Put aside your nauseating memories of cheap tequila-fueled spring breaks. Find the refined side of this south of the border spirit.
Keep on cocktailing for the rest of 2014 and into the new year -- and be sure to tip your bartenders.
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