Imbibe 75: 2017 Flavors to Watch

At the beginning of every year, we peer into our flavor crystal ball to predict some of the beer, wine, spirits and cocktail ingredients that’ll take off in the coming 12 months. Grab a physical copy of the issue to see the complete list of this year’s flavors, and get a peek here in the meantime.

Aquavit
Scandinavia’s signature spirit is getting lots of love stateside, as American distillers increasingly try their hand at the caraway-forward liquor. Aquavits from Tattersall Distilling in Minneapolis and Michigan’s Long Road Distillers won high marks from American Distilling Institute judges last year, and some distillers offer multiple varieties: Seattle’s Old Ballard Liquor Co. makes four styles, including the alder-rested Riktig and the dill-brightened Midsommar, and Minnesota’s Gamle Ode works with Wisconsin distiller 45th Parallel to produce five styles, such as the Danish-style Celebration. Portland, Oregon bartender Jacob Grier launched Aquavit Week in 2012, and Portland’s own Krogstad Aquavit shows up on local cocktail menus at Broder—a Scandinavian quartet of restaurants serving cocktails such as the Blod & Skär, an aquavit-based Blood & Sand variation—as well as at Expatriate, where Kyle Webster offers a Scandinavian Daiquiri, which matches a staple Caribbean cocktail with the spirit of the Northern latitudes. —Paul Clarke

Coffee Lemonade
Arnold Palmer was onto something when he first added lemonade to his iced tea, and now the coffee crowd is heading down the same path. Coffee and lemonade are natural cohorts, as Swedish café Da Matteo discovered with their kaffelemonad in 2013 (a year after Brooklyn’s Smith Canteen debuted the lemon-laced Thunderbolt), and nowadays the simple mix is increasingly widespread. Cold brew’s brightness lends itself well to the effort, and a bold espresso has merits; and lemonade—bottled or fresh, with still or sparkling water—provides a crisp and delicately sweet balance to coffee. —Paul Clarke

Wine Coolers Redux
After frosé became the official summer drink of 2016, it’s no surprise that playful wine coolers are now stealing the spotlight. But fear not, the days of Bartles & Jaymes are safely behind us—this time, pros like Master Sommelier Jordan Salcito are creating wine coolers we actually want to drink. Salcito’s new line of canned Ramona wine coolers combines organic Italian wines with natural fruit flavors like pink grapefruit, resulting in a fizzy, low-alcohol beverage that goes a long way toward restoring the cooler’s reputation. With other new versions like Pampelonne and Hoxie Spritzer hitting the shelves, we’re already looking forward to the summer. —Penelope Bass

Unfiltered Beer
Defying the notion that a crisp, clear pour is a mark of quality, hazy brews are on the rise. “If you pass beer through a filter, you strip out a lot of proteins, so it’s a thinner beer with less character,” says Dan Suarez of New York’s Suarez Family Brewing. To preserve texture, aroma and flavor, Suarez doesn’t even own a filter. Smaller outfits like Ecliptic in Portland, Oregon, pour some intentionally hazy beers, while The Alchemist in Vermont and Dovetail in Chicago make unfiltered brews exclusively, and some larger breweries like Stone, Green Flash and Sixpoint now release some of their brews au naturel, too. Emma Janzen

Higher-Proof Spirits
The ABV of spirits has ping-ponged over the centuries, and today’s drinkers and bartenders are increasingly appreciating the extra oomph that comes from higher octane. While cask-strength whiskies have long ruled this roost, going from barrel to bottle without added water, producers across the spirits spectrum are dialing in the higher-proof magic with perfect balances of strength and flavor. Tequila has long stood at 80-proof in the U.S., but Tapatio nudges that north to 110 with their blanco; brandy, too, often occupies the 80-proof range, but cocktail-ready brands, including Pierre Ferrand 1840 and Copper & Kings American brandy, both aim for 90-proof, and Copper & Kings Butchertown Brandy cuts loose with 124-proof. Rum often strays into higher-proof range, with bottles such as Neisson L’Esprit Blanc Rhum Agricole from Martinique demonstrating how beautiful 140-proof can be. And one of the most flavorful recent releases is Plantation’s O.F.T.D. Overproof, a 138-proof blend of rums from Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana that debuted in late 2016, and that lends a powerful punch of flavor to cocktails such as the Mr. Curtis from Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 in New Orleans. —Paul Clarke