Thanks (in part) to the influence of millennial foodies (and an increasingly image-driven social media), wine, spirits, and beer are flowing freely. Craft beers are increasingly popular, with new seasonal brews available and small craft breweries cropping all over the country. Indeed, small and independent breweries are 99% of operable breweries, with almost 2400 microbreweries, 1,650 brewpubs, and over 175 regional craft breweries working. Wine lists have been expanding and wine tours are a hip and Instagrammable activity. And restaurants are playing with their cocktail menus, vying for creativity, social media feedback, and flavor. There are also plenty of books, online recipes, and tips to have a fancy night out at home (courtesy of your liquor store and some cocktail equipment) if that’s your preference. Fancy drinks don’t have to cost that much, after all (and it’s a great way to impress your friends)!
The Rising Tide (of Wine, Beer, and Spirits)
In 2015, the amount of operating breweries in America grew by 15%, putting over 4,200 breweries in operation, which is the most at any point in American history. The same year, millennials drank almost 160 million cases of wine (that’s over 40%!) of all the wine sold in the United States and the number of people who have had pre-mixed cocktails with liquor in the last 30 days is over 13 million.
What’s the obsession? In part, the rise of “foodies” has helped, as have social media sites where you can flaunt how hip and ahead of the curve you are sitting at a new cocktail bar or with a gorgeously presented cocktail at your hand. The creativity of bartenders and restaurants has also helped, as has expanding beer and wine lists, offering a bigger variety to customers.
Plus, alcohol sells — and you can make a big profit off of it. The total sales of alcoholic beverages in the United States are at almost $220 billion.
Consider Heading to the Liquor Store Instead of a Bar
However, if you’re looking to save money (or just don’t like the bar scene), you still don’t have to miss out on all the fun. Your liquor store likely has all the components needed (except the glassware and cocktail tools, perhaps) to have a fun night at home. Even a pricier bottle of wine will still be less expensive than buying it at a restaurant and definitely less expensive than pours by the glass.
Plus, once you mix up your fancy cocktail or pour a nice glass of wine, you can sip it watching your favorite TV show or curl up with a nice book in cozy clothes. No need to get all dressed up or spend the evening shouting across to your friends!
Though if you’re feeling social, have some friends come over and try out some new recipes on them. Everyone can bring a mixer or a different type of liquor and you can test out some new recipes.
Where Can I Find Interesting Cocktail Recipes?
There are a ton of fun, gorgeously illustrated books on the market these days that range from beginner books to more advanced cocktail books, so no matter what your skill level, you can enjoy them. Most will also have helpful instructions in the beginning on what basic items you’ll need to start.
The Internet is also a goldmine of information. Check out food blogs or popular lifestyle websites — they’ll often have seasonal ideas (Halloween or Christmas themed drinks, for example) that are great for a party (or just you!).
For more basic drinks, your local liquor store might have suggestions or even little cards to give you (as might the back of some liquor bottles). Ask your friends too — they may have recently tried something they’re dying to share or replicate.
Whether you choose to head to the ritzy new cocktail bar in town or have a quiet night in with a gin and tonic or a glass of red wine, there are so many more possibilities available to you these days! Take full advantage and check out your local wine and spirits store to see what’s new.