What Do YOU Want This Year?

by Alia Akkam

Ah, the dawn of a fresh new year. It holds so much promise and possibility (at least for those first few pristine weeks before old, comfy habits take root once again), but in this fast-changing industry, change is inevitable; we don’t need a new calendar on the wall to get us motivated. Instead of predicting we’ll drink more mezcal cocktails in 2012, or stop opening joints with pressed tin ceilings, we went straight to you, trendsetting mixology folk, to discover what exactly would make your New Year—at least at the bar—rock. Ambitious? Yes. Realistic? Perhaps (If it’s the right combination of energy, education, and dollars of course.). In the meantime, share your own 2012 wish for the industry below. Happy New Year!

“Maybe it sounds a little funny, but I’m wishing for a year of better home cocktail making. So maybe people are great cooks—they can sear, braise, bake, and even make a little fresh pasta from time to time. It should no longer be a mystery how one stirs, shakes, or blends a legit drink in the home. It’s an American art form, but it's really not so difficult to make the cocktail as it were. That's my wish for my fellow man in 2012.”—Jackson Cannon, Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, and The Hawthorne, Boston

"I would love to see Baltimore on the national cocktail map. More spots with quality cocktails are popping up all the time. We, the bar professionals of Baltimore, have created a bartenders’ guild, cocktail pop-ups are happening regularly, and there is a general buzz happening among the cocktail savvy guests of our great city. This is just the beginning."—Brendan Dorr, B&O American Brasserie, Baltimore

“I wish for better cocktail and wine options in Connecticut (where I go visit my parents), and also for people to get over thinking that drinking and dieting go together. Personal plan in 2012: drink more bubbles. And when I'm not drinking bubbles, drink Islay scotch.”—Meaghan Dorman, Lantern’s Keep and Raines Law Room, NYC

“So because of my the-universe-has-a-wacky-sense-of-humor ridiculously low tolerance for boozing it up (which I believe is well-documented by this point), I'm going to dedicate my wish towards more aperitivo-style, low-alcohol cocktails. I'm tired of being asked if I would like a white wine spritzer whenever I make this inquiry. No, I would not like a glass of water with a splash of Sauv Blanc, thank you very much; I would like a LOW ALCOHOL COCKTAIL that actually tastes like a fricking cocktail. I'm a lover of all things bitter and Italian, so this shouldn't be terribly hard. The Americano is a classic, but I'm also getting tired of receiving an espresso drink whenever I try to order this at a less cocktail-driven establishment and then forget to clarify my order.  So come on, bars of New York: give us lightweights something we can savor!”—Lesley Townsend, Manhattan Cocktail Classic

“Miami to get a venue equivalent or better to the magic that was The Florida Room.”—Effie Panagopoulos, Disaronno

“I wish for more recognition for bars up and down the West Coast, for example, at the Spirited Awards ceremony [at Tales of the Cocktail]. There is some amazing talent out here that continues to get overlooked.”—Chris Bostick, The Varnish, Los Angeles

“I’d love to see expansive healthcare coverage for bartenders, servers, and cooks. It’s harder work than most people think and a healthy staff is a productive staff.”—Todd Richman, Sidney Frank     

“My 2012 wish is for more wine-based cocktails and more fun neighborhood bars in Chicago that can easily make a great classic cocktail or pour you a shot and a beer.”—Josh Pearson, Sepia, Chicago

"I wish that more bartenders would embrace a casual approach to cocktails—it's vital to the longevity of the movement and making quality cocktails a lasting part of our drinking culture."—Bobby Heugel, Anvil Bar & RefugeUnderbelly, and Hay Merchant, Houston

“A quality nightclub and bar show in NYC; a private whiskey club and bar pouring your own and member selections in NYC; less sugar in my cocktails; and cool weather at Tales of the Cocktail.”—Adam Levy, New York International Spirits Competition

“I wish that consumers were more educated and that their perceptions of what is good were not based on advertising, but rather on production.”—John Pomeroy, Purity Vodka 

“Hold small distilleries to the same high standards as any distillery. It’s about what's inside the bottle, not about the size of the distillery. Small isn’t always better. It's a craft, not a playground for yuppies or trust fund babies with cash looking for something to do.”—Todd Appel, Piranha Bros, Chicago

“Our wish is that 2012 will be the year that people everywhere insist upon quality cocktails and ingredients, and take more of an interest in drinking well. Our community has the knowledge, passion, and power to inspire the home consumer to ditch pre-made mixes in favor of making their own syrups and juices. Let's share our enthusiasm for the craft and instill an expectation of quality in 2012!”—Rachel and Kyle Ford, Ford Mixology Lab, NYC

“I'd like nothing better than to see those with passion and dedication, those who are acting on their new ideas to be at the forefront of cocktails, spirits, and the industry. We're very lucky to see such rapid growth in the past 10 years, and we can't forget the pioneers, but the time now belongs to the next group, the doers. I know there's still much to learn. We're all still learning, but most of us know the basics. We're all buying Kold-Draft machines, Yarai mixing glasses, and studying the hard shake. We've all read Imbibe, know how to make grenadine, and can recall 100 variations on the Manhattan using different bitters. We've all been brand ambassadors and have consulting companies. I'd like to see new takes, new ideas, new leaders. I'd like to see new cities kick the sh!t out of New York and San Francisco. No offense to either. I love them both. But I want the top 25 bars to be in Des Moines, Topeka, and San Diego. Maybe Madrid. Wishful thinking, I know, but that's what you asked for.”—Derek Brown, The Passenger and Columbia Room, Washington, D.C.

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