Top Beverage Trends for 2014

March 24, 2014

The Pink Door Mint Julep cocktail northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Following a blog post earlier this month about possible food-and-wine trends for 2014, here are the top beverage trends we may see this year.

The first six come from the latest annual trend-prediction webinar given by Andrew Freeman, chief executive of San Francisco-based hospitality consulting firm Andrew Freeman & Co. Theme of the webinar was, “Blurred Lines.”

• Infused ice: Last year, bars and restaurants were making distinctive cubes or shaving their own ice. Now they’re infusing cubes with herbs and other ingredients to enhance flavors, Freeman said.

• Wine by the ounce: “People don’t like commitment,” Freeman said, noting that they also like to try different things, which is why more restaurants are offering wine by the ounce, as well as recommending wine flights.

• Artisanal spirits: Local craft beer is well established, but local spirits are trending, too. “Local spirits are infusing cocktails like I have never seen,” Freeman said.

• “Tippler nibblers:” Expect more food-drink combinations such as potent snow cones and graham cracker squares in root beer floats.

• Local and Iberian wines: Every state in the union now makes wine, and they’re becoming more popular — and so are wines from Spain and Portugal, Freeman said.

• Tea cocktails: “Tea is going crazy right now,” Freeman said, noting that it’s in food and desserts, but also in cocktails.

BOKA tea-infused martini northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Here are other possible beverage trends, as predicted by Washington Restaurant Magazine, a publication of the Washington Restaurant Association.

• Non-Alcoholic Beverages: In this category, look for housemade soft drinks and gourmet lemonade (freshly muddled), specialty iced tea (such as flavored or Thai-style), dairy-free milk (soy, rice, almond), and the ubiquitous coconut water.

•Cocktails and Cocktail Ingredients: Cocktails aged in barrels onsite and culinary cocktails (made with fresh, savory ingredients) will continue trending, augmented by regional signature cocktails, edible cocktails, and food-and-liquor/cocktail pairings.

•Alcoholic Beverages: Locally produced beer/wine/spirits and micro distilled/artisan spirits will continue strong; “new-make” whiskey, gluten-free beer, and food-and-beer pairings will pick up steam.

Wine glass photo northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

The beverage trend below was taken from a report by the Food & Beverage team of MSLGROUP, which operates in offices throughout North America, representing leading food and beverage brands, and manages a state-of-the-art Culinary & Nutrition Center in Seattle.

• “Wine-y” Millennials? Consumers ages 21-34 drink more wine than any other demographic. They’ll make up 40 percent of the population over the next few years, so the popularity of wine is expected to rise for years to come. Cheers to that!

More Top Trends for 2014

March 10, 2014

Northwest seafood photo

I love to see what famous public-relations firms, national restaurant magazines, and culinary websites predict as the trends for the new year.

And with that in mind, here are half a dozen trends that I saw mentioned time and again from various reputable sources including Andrew Freeman, chief executive of San Francisco-based hospitality consulting firm Andrew Freeman & Co. (my favorite source); MSLGROUP’s specialized North America food PR and marketing team;; and the January 2014 issue of the Washington Restaurant Association magazine.

1. Desserts Go Savory! But we all know savory desserts were already a trend in Seattle years ago.

2. Locally Sourced Meats, Seafood, and Produce; Sustainable Seafood; Nose-to-Tail and Root-to-Stalk Cooking: Plankton Conchiglie Pasta is on the menu at Craigie on Main in Massachusetts; author Tara Duggan wrote an entire cookbook on using the whole vegetable.

3. Home Cooking and Childhood Favorites Making a Comeback: Creative takes on comfort foods encompass the entire menu at Haute Dish in Minneapolis; Ice-cream sandwiches are on trend in flavors such as milk chocolate and malt at Hardwater in San Francisco.

4. Chef and Home Cooks Experimenting with Unusual Nut Butters and Nut Oils: For the first time ever, the Good Food Awards offered up prizes for small-batch oils, such as squash seed and avocado: JIF now offers several versions of “Hazelnut Spread,” no doubt inspired by the popularity of Nutella.

5. Crazy for Coconut (Milk, Butter, Water, Etc.): I knew the coconut-water craze had become mainstream when my 91-year-old father’s caregivers started offering this to him to drink–and he even liked it! NPR weighs in on whether the coconut-water craze is all it’s “cracked up” to be.

6. Pleasing Pickles and Fantastic Fermenting: Perbacco Chef Staffan Terje is experimenting with as garum, a fermented fish sauce, in braised-meat dishes; Wente Vineyards’ Chef Matt Greco uses wine lees in the restaurant’s house-made bread.

Later on this month, we’ll discuss trending cocktails, wine, beer, tea, and other popular beverages.  So please stay tuned! 

Are You a Liberal or Conservative Drinker?

February 24, 2014

Canon restaurant seattle jamie boudreaux hooker cocktail northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Could your political party predict your propensity for partying? An intriguing new study published by the Journal of Wine Economics finds that alcohol consumption in American states rises as the population’s political persuasion becomes more liberal.

The Journal of Wine Economics, which is published by the Cambridge University Press, is the official publication of the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) – a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to encouraging and communicating economic research and analyses and exchanging ideas in wine economics.

Findings from the study into the relationship between drink and politics across 50 states in the U.S. over the past 50 years suggest a direct correlation between political beliefs and the demand for alcohol.

Economists from Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University reveal that, as states become more liberal politically over time, their consumption of beer and spirits rises – while their consumption of wine tends to fall.

For example, the research reveals that more politically liberal states like Nevada tend to consume up to three times more alcohol per head than more politically conservative states like Arkansas and Utah.

The study by Pavel Yakovlev and Walter P. Guessford reviewed more than five decades of data between 1952 and 2010 and measured alcohol intake against “citizen ideology,” which was inferred from the voting patterns of congressional representatives.

“In this study, we show that liberal ideology has a statistically significant positive association with the consumption of alcohol in the United States even after controlling for economic, demographic, and geographic differences across states,” the authors say.

“Holding everything else constant, our findings suggest that when a state becomes more liberal politically, its population consumes more beer and spirits per capita, but possibly less wine per capita.”

The authors’ findings are relatively consistent with recent sociological studies in other parts of the world showing that people with more socialist views tend to engage in more unhealthy behavior, such as excessive drinking.

For example, they cite one 2002 study, which found that Russian pro-socialists were significantly more likely than anti-socialists to drink alcohol frequently. Another 2006 survey in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine found that adults with anti-communist views had healthier lifestyles than their pro-communist peers.

Explanations offered by the authors of this latest study include the suggestion that people of a more liberal persuasion tend to be more open to new experiences, including the consumption of alcohol or drugs – or that they might feel more confident in government healthcare and social welfare to pick up the pieces of their socially irresponsible behavior.

The authors suggest that further research is needed to explore the relationship between political beliefs and other unhealthy behaviors in future.



Seattle Wine and Food Experience February 23

February 10, 2014

Wine Glasses

Buy your tickets today for  the city’s premier food and wine event, the Seattle Wine and Food Experience (SWFE)!

SWFE is back for its sixth year on Sunday, February 23, 2014. VIP tickets are sold out; general admission tickets cost $55 per person and allow entry from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Throughout this unique gastronomical event guests will learn about and taste a wide offering of quality products through “experiences” and event features.

According to my friend and fellow Seattle Dame Jamie Peha, president of Peha Promotions, TableTalk Northwest, and producer of SWFE, “What makes Seattle Wine and Food Experience unique in the marketplace are the ‘experiences’ that guests encounter. Guests have the opportunity to educate themselves about beverage and culinary products from the Northwest and beyond, talk to producers, and taste samples from a variety regions and growing industries.”

Another feature that makes the sixth SWFE unique is that the event’s charity beneficiary is Les Dames d’Escoffier, Seattle Chapter. According to a press release:

This year’s beneficiary, Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle, brings together it’s talented membership for a special experience at SWFE. Get a taste of the beverages, food, and specialty products from talented members of Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle including Thoa Nguyen/Chinoise Sushi Bar & Asian Grill, Maria Coassin/Gelatiamo, Lisa Nakamura/Gnocchi Bar, Nancy Donier/Kaspar’s Special Events & Catering, Leslie Mackie/Macrina Bakery, Susan Neel/McCrea Cellars, and Susan Kaufman/Serafina Osteria & Enoteca.

Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle raises funds for scholarships for women in the culinary, beverage, and hospitality industries, and also supports community-outreach programs and sustainable-agriculture projects based in Washington state.

Other Dames participating in SWFE include Rose Ann Finkel/Pike Brewing Co. and Holly Smith/Cafe Juanita.

Other featured “Experiences” to date at the 2014 event include:

*Featured Wine Region: Woodinville Wine Country – Taste wine from Washington’s up-and-coming destination wine region with more than 30 of Woodinville’s wineries (and all of Washington’s AVAs) including Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Winery, Lauren Ashton Cellars, Patterson Cellars, and many more.

*The QFC Advantage Lounge – In this lounge environment complete with leather sofas, guests will enjoy bites from Murray’s Cheese, Boar’s Head Meats, and Simple Truth Crackers and sips of luxury wine brands including Chateau Ste. Michelle Single Vineyard Designates, Spring Valley Vineyard, Col Solare, and Northstar Winery. You know it’s going to be good!

*Northwest, California, and International Wines – Get tastes of wine regions from the Northwest and beyond with sips from Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, and international wineries (including Italy, France, Argentina, Spain, and Portugal). With more than 800 wines available to try from the world’s top producers, your palate is in for quite a tour.

*SIP Northwest Distillery Row – Take a run at Sip Northwest Distillery Row featuring many of the region’s hottest craft spirits makers as well as global brands. Sip through their latest creations and learn how grains and botanicals become whiskey, vodka, and gin.

*Tim’s Cascade Snacks Beer and Cider Exhibit – Local favorite Tim’s Cascade Snacks will be serving up its famous salty chips and popcorn that pair great with regional ciders and brews. Discover the new developments in the world of these craft beverages.

*Les Dames d’Escoffier Alley –See above.

*Washington Beef Butcher Block – Washington Beef presents a unique opportunity to “Crave, Cut, & Create” your way to a perfect beef meal. Experience and savor beef’s flavor when prepared with care and paired with complimentary flavor profiles in dishes from Andaluca, bin on the lake, BOKA Restaurant + Bar, and The Georgian.

*Top Pot Doughnut and Coffee Bar – Grab a sweet treat at the event and revive your palate, with a stop at the Top Pot Doughnut and Coffee Bar. Try a hand-forged doughnut and cup of Top Pot Coffee. For an added bonus, grab a sample cocktail from Sun Liquor Distillery.

*Chef Prepared Gourmet Bites – Guests can savor the incredible creations from more 25 of Seattle’s most accomplished chefs representing a global range of cuisines. Featured restaurants include Andaluca, Anthony’s Pier 66 & Bell Street Diner, bin on the lake, BOKA Restaurant + Bar, The Capital Grille, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Chinoise Sushi Bar & Asian Grill, Dirty Oscar’s Annex, Far-Eats, The Georgian, Gnocchi Bar, Gracie’s/Hotel Deluxe, The Hollywood Tavern, The Hunt Club, Kaspar’s Special Events & Catering, La Bodega, Macrina Bakery, Miyabi 45th, Purple Café & Wine Bar, Racha Thai, Ray’s Boathouse, Serafina Osteria & Enoteca, Tai Foong USA, Tilikum Place Café, Trellis Restaurant, and Volterra.

*Chef in the Vineyard with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates – Meet Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Culinary Director John Sarich, sample creative bites and taste through a wonderful selection of Washington’s best wines from 14 Hands, Anew, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Michelle, and O Wines. Seek out their displays in local QFCs for a special ticket discount.

*Event Feature: Stella Artois – With more than 600 years of Belgium brewing experience, Stella Artois is best known for its detailed method for pulling a pint and their “special” Stella Artois chalice. Enjoy a sip of Stella Artois and its other world-class brands including Cidre, Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Leffe Brun, and Leffe Blond.

*Northwest Travel Magazine – Test your palate with a blind comparative tasting of the same varietal from different AVAs. Northwest Travel contributor Cole Danehower will be hosting this fun and interactive experience.

Tickets for this year’s event are on sale here. General Admission tickets are $55. New this year is an optional VIP ticket is available to guests for $65 and includes one hour early entry, custom event tote bag, wine glass and tasting plate, plus an opportunity to win a variety of prizes including a wine trip weekend for two to Woodinville Wine Country, tickets to July’s Wine Rocks event, and more. Ticket prices include access to all areas of the event. No one under 21 will be admitted and ID is required.

So please plan to attend the sixth-annual Seattle Wine and Food Experience. . .good not only for you but for the good of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Seattle Chapter.


Valentine’s Day Dining Options

January 27, 2014

Heart cookie photo

A few weeks ago, a friend and consultant of mine told me he was going out on a first date and asked me to recommend a few restaurants with the following parameters:

I am seeking a a restaurant in downtown Seattle. . .perhaps somewhere in or around the Market. Here is what I am kinda of shooting for in terms of requirements:

• good place to meet for drinks

• good wine selection

• maybe dinner or good Happy Hour menu

• not too $$$

• good first-date place

• view of Waterfront

• small/intimate. . . .yes, perhaps even romantic

• not noisy and crowded

And, after a bit of thinking, I answered:

Man, you don’t have too many parameters here. Ha! Hard to find one bar/resto that meets everything you desire, but here are some suggestions:

Il Bistro in the Market (dark, romantic, nice bar area, inexpensive and good-value Happy Hour [HH]). However, no water view.

Steelhead Diner in the Market (more casual than Il Bistro and probably more noisy, but wouldn’t seem like such a commitment. Also less price-y.) Peek-a-boo water views depending on where you sit. Not sure about HH menu or pricing. . .

The Pink Door in the Market is fun and funky but you’d need a reservation for dinner for sure. . .bar is fun but crowded and possibly noisy. Good price points, wine list, food, etc. Water views in summer on the deck but not in winter (but there is a trapeze artist on certain nights!).

Andaluca in the Mayflower Park Hotel has no water view but think romantic, tapas, and good wine list. . .perhaps better for a second or third date.

If you want a real “bar” bar, then Oliver’s in the Mayflower is a really well-established bar, noted for its martinis. They have a HH and also free appetizers.

If you want a real water view, there is also 67 at the Edgewater. . .we haven’t been there lately and never for HH but you might consider it.

So cheers to everyone near and dear in our lives as we approach Valentine’s Day 2014. . .

Food and Beverage Trends for 2014

January 13, 2014

The Spontaneatini is a hot new cocktail at BOKA in downtown Seattle northwest wining and dining website link

Would you pay $55 for a cocktail that boasted five different flavors of infused ice cubes?

According to JWT, the world’s best-known marketing communications brand, infused ice cubes will become one of 2014’s top trends.

The company has just released its ninth annual forecast of key category trends that will drive or significantly impact consumer mindset and behavior in 2014.

Some topics of interest include:

Beer in Church: With church membership declining across the U.S., some churches are using beer as a focal point for gatherings, making the leap from communion wine to kegs. Some brew their own, while others hold services in pubs to attract curious bargoers. In addition to attracting newcomers, bringing beer to the church or the church to the bar can also build stronger relationships between congregants, improving retention. Examples include Beer & Hymns in Portland, Ore., The Pub Church in Boston, and Church-in-a-Pub in Fort Worth, Texas.

Cocktails on Tap: We’ve seen wine moving into taps, and now cocktails are being mixed and stored in kegs. It saves bartenders time and can lower the price tag for imbibers, who get the added bonus of being able to ask for sample tastes. With many cocktails, premixing doesn’t compromise quality—and may enhance it by enabling ingredients to mesh over time—though it only works well for some concoctions.

Orange Wine:  The result of using red-wine techniques with white-wine grapes, an ancient technique from the Caucasus region, orange wine offers the best of both worlds, according to its proponents. (The color isn’t exactly orange; it’s more in the range of light gold to amber.) While this wine will likely remain a niche product, we’ll be seeing it more often thanks to the efforts of vintners in Italy, France, California, and beyond.

Infused Ice Cubes: Taking cocktail culture to yet the next level, mixologists are starting to push the flavors of their concoctions with infused ice: cubes of different shapes and sizes that are made with juices, fruits, syrups, and herbs. They enhance the look of the beverage, and as they melt, rather than dilute the cocktail, the cubes add complementary flavors. They also up the cost. At Chicago’s Trump Hotel, for instance, the signature Opulence 5 includes five differently flavored ice cubes and can be had for $55; reportedly the taste changes completely by the last drop.


Dish of the Day: BOKA Duck and Claret Cocktail

November 11, 2013

BOKA chef peter birk northwest wining and dining website

At a  press dinner last month to celebrate the new Fall menu at BOKA Kitchen + Bar in downtown Seattle’s Hotel 1000 (just a few blocks from our condo), executive chef Peter Birk (formerly with Ray’s Boathouse and McCormick & Schmick’s) wowed the crowd with many lovely courses.

BOKA duck breast northwest wining and dining website link

This is a lousy photo due to the ever-changing rainbow of colors glowing from the wall near our table, but among his best dishes that evening was Crispy Duck Breast with Black Tea Custard, Chanterelles, and Roasted Grapes.

BOKA tea-infused martini northwest wining and dining website link

It paired perfectly not only with a Matthews Cellars Claret, but with a Black Tea Martini with Matthews Claret Mousse created by BOKA’s new bar manager and chief mixologist Cory Duffy.

Cory, who also owns Rain City Spirits (“Seattle’s Craft Vodka”), is taking the BOKA bar menu in intriguing new directions with a carefully curated collection of handcrafted, culinary-inspired cocktails.

You’ll want to try Cory’s house-made tonic water (made with Pinot Gris!) that figures “big” in the House Made (Big) Gin & Tonic.

Cory, a self-avowed “big fan of punches,” wowed the crowd with his Dark Rum Punch. It’s made from roasted figs, orange peel, brandied cherries, Dark Rum, and VSOP Cognac, among other ingredients. Full of rich, spicy flavors, the media members at our table pronounced it, “Christmas in a glass.”

You’ll want to stop by BOKA for its upcoming seasonal events, which include chef Peter’s Thanksgiving Cooking Class on November 14, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner and three Holiday Hideout Pop-Up Boutiques in December.

BOKA chef peter birk northwest wining and dining website link

Here is chef Peter at evening’s end, relieved and proud after a job well done.


“Hopping” Along Yakima’s New Spirits and Hops Trail

August 26, 2013

Yakima Valley icon

A recent press release brought news that the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau has launched the Spirits and Hops Trail website to help tourists easily navigate the growing number of local craft breweries, cideries, and distilleries throughout the region.

According to the release, in the last five years, the region has welcomed three breweries, three distilleries, and the largest producer of hard artisan cider in the state. The new site provides information and online mapping capabilities for these new businesses, and many more tasting destinations throughout the Yakima Valley, including restaurants that feature locally crafted adult beverages.

The Yakima Valley is the top agricultural region in Washington State. In addition to growing 40 varieties of crops, the Valley produces 78 percent of the nation’s hops. For decades, commercial and craft breweries across the country and globe have relied on the quality hops grown in the Valley for their products.

Tourism leaders believe this project will complement the thriving wine industry of the Yakima Valley, which boasts more than 120 wineries and acres of rolling vineyards.

“Our agricultural heritage is a foundation of our visitor industry,” stated John Cooper, president and CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. “It’s only natural that we should celebrate our role in the beer and distillery industries.”

The website also contains a history of the hops industry, a blog with guest authors, and a calendar of events of interest to beer, cider,  and spirits enthusiasts.

Northwest Wining and Dining Drinks Seattle!

June 3, 2013

A.J. Rathbun Drink Seattle iphone app

A.J. Rathbun, our good buddy and prolific author, whom we’ve written about not one time, but twice for The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine, has done it again.

But this time instead of another book (among which he has written “Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz,” the award-winning “Good Spirits,” and a host of others), this time A.J. has come up with his own app: Drink Seattle: A Spirited Journey Through Seattle Bars and Cocktails with A.J. Rathbun.

The Drink Seattle app costs just $1.99 in the iPhone App Store, with an Android version coming soon.

In the app, A.J. Rathbun, awarding-winning author of a host of cocktail and home-entertaining books, recommends over 50 of the best bars, cocktails, distilleries, and cocktail supply shops in and around Seattle.

And whether you’re visiting Seattle or already live here, if you like a good drink, you need this app. With the ever-jovial and witty A.J. as your guide, you won’t miss a lounge, bar, distillery, or dive that’s worth sitting down and sipping within.

This bubbly whirl gives you a great drink in nearly every neighborhood, specific cocktail picks for each place and a host of insights on individual bar personalities.

Each recommended establishment features a detailed review, notes on what to order, and great photos and tips for having the best experience you can.

As you’d expect, the app has a lot of bells and whistles–GPS, one-touch dialing, and turn-by-turn directions – and vital info like business hours, websites, etc. And, awesomely, the app is updated frequently so you stay abreast of all the latest changes in the Seattle cocktail scene.

A.J. knows from whence he writes, since he pens the monthly Bar Hop column for Seattle Magazine and a weekly blog for them on spirits, cocktails, and bars, as well as authoring his own tipsy blog Spiked Punch. He’s a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and a contributor to culinary and entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others.

For even more from A.J., you can follow him on Twitter.


Top-10 Drink Menu Trends for 2013

February 25, 2013

In our last blog post, we cited our 13 top culinary trends  for 2013.

Today we cover the top-10 drink menu trends for beverages, gathered from members of the United States Bartenders Guild.

United States Bartenders Guild Top-10 Drink Menu Trends for 2013

1. Onsite barrel-aged drinks.

2. Food-liquor/cocktail pairings.

3. Culinary cocktails using fresh, savory ingredients.

4. Micro-distilled/artisan liquor.

5. Locally produced spirits.

6. Locally sourced fruit, berries, and produce.

7. Beer sommeliers (cicerones).

8. Regional signature cocktails.

9. Beer-based cocktails.

10. Locally produced beer.

Source: National Restaurant Association

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