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Artisan spirits, culinary cocktails and organic wine among hot menu trends for 2009




Dec. 12, 2008, Washington, D.C. – Alcohol is an important
part of the culinary arts and experience, and new research from the National
Restaurant Association reveals which alcohol trends will be the hottest on
restaurant menus in 2009.



A
survey of more than 1,600 American Culinary Federation members ranks
micro-distilled/artisan liquor, culinary cocktails and organic wine in the top
20 culinary trends. Also high on the list of trends for the coming year are
food-alcohol pairings, craft beer, specialty beer, organic cocktails, muddled
cocktails and wine or beer flights.

“As Americans are growing more and more interested in the culinary arts and the
‘foodie’ movement, that interest and sophistication is also extending to
alcohol and cocktails,” says Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the association.
“According to our chef survey, mixologists will be taking on leading roles in
the coming year and, much like chefs in the kitchen, showcase their creativity
behind the bar. In addition, chefs will continue to highlight various types of
alcohol in their recipes and to complement their culinary creations through
pairings and samplers.”

“Culinarians, mixologists and other restaurant and hospitality industry
professionals will be able to explore these trends, learn from noted experts
and browse hundreds of beverage alcohol brands and labels at the 2009
International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event next spring," Sweeney adds.

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“Pairing cocktails and wines is all about complementing your food, and as
chefs, we need to know what will work best with the dishes we serve,” says ACF
national president John Kinsella. “In 2009, we are also looking at pairings
with specialty beers, organic cocktails and signature drinks. In addition,
American diners have become wine smart and are always looking for great,
inexpensive wines to complement their dining experience. During this economic
downswing, the restaurateur will have to find innovative ways to keep costs in
line by purchasing great wines at the right price point.”

The culinary cocktail is an emerging concept that will become more visible on
restaurant menus in 2009, with professional bartenders approaching drink-making
as a chef does a food recipe. These cocktails, which are often signature
drinks, are made using a wider variety of ingredients and more precise
techniques than simpler concoctions. They often contain savory ingredients and
items previously only used in kitchens, and tailor flavors to complement
specific food items or dishes.

The chefs surveyed were also asked what the hottest beverage alcohol trend in
restaurants will be in 2009. Thirty-three percent said mixologists and
signature cocktails will be the number-one trend. Twenty-six percent believe
functional cocktails will be the most popular, (cocktails created with health
and nutrition aspects in mind, such as using super fruits). Another 23 percent
said food-alcohol pairings will rule the alcohol scene next year.