Media Panel Offers Craft Drink Predictions For 2020

By Neat Pour Staff & Friends |

Well, the year 2020 is upon us which means it’s time for a media tradition, the annual ‘Observations & Predictions’ list. We surveyed some of our Neat Pour contributors as well as some of our media friends. Here are their predictions for the year ahead.

Jeff “Beachbum” Berry

Tiki bars continue to abide, with more openings across the country slated for 2020, so that’ll still be a thing.  Also, themed pop-up bars seem to have struck a chord with people, especially Christmas-themed pop-ups.  Expect more of those later in the year, for sure.

Check out more of the Bum’s musings in his books.

Wayne Curtis

2019 was the year of some impressive American amari. Not just imitations of Italy but some with unexpected flavor and depth. 

Brett Moskowitz

The interest in low ABV cocktails continued to gain momentum in 2019 with more menus containing aperitif lists filled with fortified wines, liqueurs, and bubbles. In 2020, I predict the rise of reverse Martinis and Manhattans to satisfy the low-ABV appetite of those who enjoy the higher-proof classics. The original Martinez recipe from the 19th century called for 2 parts vermouth to one part gin, so look for this classic to get some attention in 2020.

Kara Newman

Looking back, 2019 was the year of White Claw, and hard seltzer in general. I’m expecting to see more “hard” beverages in the first half of 2020 – hard coffee, hard tea, hard kombucha –as brands work overtime to try to capture that same bolt of lightning. But I also expect that trend to fade by the second half of the year, when most of those producers realize lightning rarely strikes the same place (or in this case, trend) twice.

Tara Nurin

What a year for beer shockers, right?! I think our collective heads are still spinning from some completely unexpected announcements (see below). Generally, I feel that this year we can group the biggest beer stories into three categories: non-beer upstarts (mainly seltzer); diversity (its successes and a few cataclysmic failures); and how established breweries are choosing to weather the declines in beer sales and the rise in new brewery competition (mergers and acquisitions).

1. Seltzer. Yeah, yeah, we’ve all read the stories.

2. Diversity. Founders. WTF?? I mean, seriously. WTF? Women: This year we hesitantly continued to admit that discrimation also comes from within; we debated the issue of craft beer influencers who put their own best assets forward; and we collectively fired two prominent male beer journalists for not being woke enough for modern feminist tastes. We still drastically underrepresent POCs in beer but we saw nice progress this year in more attention being paid to African-American-owned breweries festivals, as well as owners of other ethnicities as well. 

3. M/A activity: Boston Beer/Dogfish Head. Kings & Convicts/Ballast Point. Kirin/New Belgium. And let’s not forget the newly renamed Molson Coors BEVERAGE Company. Is this the Twilight Zone?

Check out Tara’s full yearly wrap here.

Lisa Parker

2019 was a year of gin, a year of Aperol spritzes, and a year that (hopefully) saw the end of the garish garnish. Gin isn’t going away, but I predict that mezcal will have its moment in 2020. Why? There’s way more to mezcal that smoke, and it can add a surprising complexity to classics like the Blood and Sand (made for me by Effrom at the San Morello Vino al Bicchiere in Detroit’s Shinola Hotel) and Last Word (Clove Club, London). 

Other predictions for 2020? Minimalism and mocktails. Seedlip you may be onto something with the Nogroni and non-alcoholic gin as Dry January expands to Dry October and beyond. Other ideas that may take flight? Kombucha and sake in cocktails… offering unusual flavors, expanding our palettes and giving us more to play with.

Wishes for 2020? Espresso and tonic to be a thing. They are so good! And clarified milk punch. Look, I don’t think these will happen, but one can dream.

Check out Lisa’s full yearly wrap here.

Émilie Steckenborn

2019: The Rosé category kept growing in the US market. Wine in cans proved that they are more than just a novelty. 

2020: Following a rise in demand for Champagne globally, Grower Champagne will continue to attract wine enthusiasts. 

For more, give Émilie’s podcast a listen.

Jackie Summers

Low ABV cocktails are a thing I’m looking forward to seeing more of. They require real creativity on the part of bartenders, and more conscious consumption from consumers. I’m also loving the savory cocktail movement, as the public palate matures. While there will be a leveling off in terms of new craft brands, brands like Leopold Bros. are now are now firmly established, giving them room both to grow and play. I’m excited to see craft move beyond its infancy and figure out who it wants to be.

Esther Tseng

This past year, I saw a proliferation of low-to-no-ABV concepts and products in the cocktail scene–partially because it became personal, too (thanks to my Sobertober). I see that continuing, but on the other end we’ve got unprecedented enthusiasm for Tiki. I’m just glad that we’ve become more mindful of the appropriation that’s at the root of it.

Check out Esther’s (new for 2020!) website here.

Gustav Vincoeur

The 20-teens were a big decade for craft beverages in all categories and, 2019 saw the culmination of many trends. A vast rise in consumer education sparked a slew of new premium offerings and pushed craft offerings from destination bars into corner restaurants.

However, the spread of craft, including craft presences on the shelves of big box stores, also means that a little bit of the sheen has come off the bottles. Plus, we are living with constant uncertainties in international trade. For good measure, also consider the existential threats to secondary markets posed by internet regulation. So, in 2020, we’re hoping to see some prices come back down to earth. Obviously, Bourbon is the obvious candidate for a return to decency, but expect this to be industry wide.

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