What’s Happening in Craft Distilling?

News from Greenbar Distillery founders, Litty and Melkon about what’s coming to craft distilling in 2018. You heard it here first!

Community means more than geography
Inspired by immigration and migration, people not places will determine what we eat and drink. While a cyclical trend, this time it’s less about fusion or exoticism and more about cultural terroir, where a critical mass of cuisine from immigrant cultures in a region begins to shape regional food and drinks that further separate places like Los Angeles, Miami and New York from one another and the rest of the country.

“Cultural terroir is about the genuine acceptance of each other. Acknowledging who we really are will open up new territory. Even in flavors.”
Litty Mathew, Greenbar Distillery

Increased competition puts spotlight on creativity
As more craft distillers hang out their shingles each week, they’ll have to prove they have something better and more memorable than the ones that came before. Let the games begin!

“We’ve been craft distilling since 2004 and we’ve been in a unique position to observe the comings and goings. The easy fruit have already been picked.”
Melkon Khosrovian, Greenbar Distillery

In person social gatherings to increase
Facebook Live or Castle Wars 2.5 just doesn’t cut it as human interaction. People will emerge from their self-imposed isolation to physically meet others in social settings like restaurants, bars and each other’s homes. Food and drink choices to align along the political divide. In liberal California, fresh produce cocktails that help support their values: local, organic, sustainable, to define consumption.

Face-to-face social interactions enhance well-being. With the ubiquity of social media, important questions have arisen about the impact of online social interactions.”
Association of Facebook Use With Compromised Well-Being. A Longitudinal Study, PubMed.gov

Culteral Terroir in Los Angeles via Greenbar Distillery

Cultural Terroir in Los Angeles

Less marketshare forces distilleries to focus on local markets
Craft distillers will count on friends and family even more in 2018. With fewer distributors due to consolidation and more distilleries looking for a way to get to market, it’s easier to defend your turf than fight for glory further afield. Softening direct-sales laws will likely be proposed across many states to fuel this trend and mitigate the inevitable shuttering of many distilleries across the country.

“This is the craft spirits Gold Rush. It’s competitive and you may not strike it rich. The good news is: if there is treasure, it’s closer to home.”
Litty Mathew, Greenbar Distillery

European gin craze spills over into America
Every five years, gin tries to become a star in America. And fails. With more than 1,500 craft distilleries in the U.S. — almost each one offering a gin (or three) — 2018 is the year it turns from an indie darling into a celebrity.

“Gin’s been on the cusp of a zeitgeist for years and the field is swollen with mediocre efforts that retread the same flavors. To break through, we need to see more new styles with charismatic flavors that reward experienced drinkers”
Melkon Khosrovian, Greenbar Distillery

Move toward natural coloring for liqueurs
As consumers demand “cleaner” products, FD&C Blue No. 1 & FD&C Red No. 40 will take a backseat to natural golden and amber tones. Even for established brands.

Vodka’s no longer uncool
Feel free to declare your love for vodka in the open once again. No need to pretend the vodka/soda is just because you’re watching your calories. It’s now back, minus the candy flavors. Sure, straight vodka may be like looking at a white painting but, if you look deeply enough, those shades of white, beige and cream are subtly mesmerizing and, wow, do they ever show off anything put onto that canvas.

Cocktail culture spills over into the mainstream
Booze flavored chocolates notwithstanding, the addition of liquor and cocktail inspired candles, cologne and maple syrup mean mainstream acceptance of an erstwhile ‘bad habit.’ Sign us up for Negroni-scented dryer sheets.

Craft spirits to outpace overall spirits market growth
That’s per Impact Databank. Despite the challenges, we concur. End of year projections for the industry slated to approach 5.5 million cases. Will 2018 see 6.5 million cases? We’re betting on it.

“The craft craze that recently consumed the beer segment is now sweeping through the spirits segment”
GA Wine Spirits Monitor, Oct 2017

Bitter is the new black
We’re enjoying the bitter taste in our mouths; 2017 sales of amari like Aperol & Campari increased by the double digits. The trend extends to our own craft distillery with increased sales of Grand Poppy amaro, our bitter-sweet ode to California.

Moonshine wanes
As palates become even more discerning, hooch has to step up or go back into the woods.

Garnishes go minimal
It’s a nice touch but do you really need a grilled cheese garnish?
Full disclosure: we made a toasted marshmallow garnish for a winter whiskey cocktail – lots of oohs and ahhs plus it tasted great – but we predict 2018 says goodbye to meal-sized, over-stylized garnishes. 

Greenbar Distillery Cocktails at Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes

Greenbar Distillery Cocktails at Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes