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What you'll be drinking in 2018

With 11 months left of nights in, nights out and nights somewhere in-between to enjoy - this is what team DrinkUp think you'll be sipping, slurping and shooting this year.

It's hard to imagine what the drinks trends will be for the rest of the year in January - for one thing most of your pals aren't drinking, and for another your palate is still in recovery from December’s influx of orange liqueurs. And as much as we're busy making resolutions - most of them are around what we won't be putting into our bodies as opposed to what we will. But with Dry Veganuary out of the way - the crystal ball is looking a lot clearer. The newspapers are happy to start running booze features again, we’ve got the biggest line up of festivals to date and everyone is rapidly coming around to the conclusion that a-little-of-what-you-fancy might just be the best way forward.

Mainstream Mezcal...
Not for the faint of heart, mezcal is tequila's smokier southern sibling and in 2017 it made ripples across the USA. So much so that both of the giant spirit companies Bacardi and Pernod Ricard made sizeable investments into the category. The danger, however, is that mezcal is produced from various agave plants that take years to mature. As we've seen with tequila, which has the benefit of being heavily regulated unlike mezcal, this can cause havoc in the local community and economy. And if demand gets too high we may drink ourselves dry in just a few short years. But… they’re dealing with that and it certainly doesn't mean the category isn't deserving of our love. If the Mezcalaria takes off in London as it did across the pond, we'll hopefully be seeing the educated drinker appreciate this punchy liquid. 

Rule Brittania...
If the yanks are predicting (and they are) that English wines are going to be the breakthrough product for them in 2018 then we should certainly see that reflected back in the UK. Jon Bonne writing for PUNCH has this to say "There are relatively few truly new frontiers in wine, but southern England is one." So with sales of our best and brightest wines on the increase, no doubt English pride in English grapes will only soar. Oh and there’s that Royal wedding. Fly the flag!

Brandy Returns...
Cognac has taken a big lesson from its northern brothers in Champagne these past few years and realised that being known as a nightclub and starlet serve doesn't equate to consumers understanding the product or its quality. So with a sharp u-turn (you might have seen the adverts across all the tube platforms for maisons like Remy Martin focusing on their grapes and stills) Cognac as a region is coming back and finding its way into cocktails. Need more evidence? London’s own Tony C has opened his own Cognac bar in the town centre of Cognac (brave!) with some seriously tasty tipples. 

Vegan Cocktails...
You might not think drinks typically have animal products in them, but, when it comes to cocktails, it's often a staple ingredient. From egg whites in sours to honey in classic Champagne cocktails and even milk and cream in the likes of White Russians and Brandy Alexanders, it's never been in-style to ask guests about dietary requirements in cocktail bars but with an increase in those opting for animal-free products we'll need to start flagging ingredients and working more creatively with alternatives. Call 2018 the year of bean water and oat milk. Yum.

Obscure Wine Regions...
2018 is looking to be the year that heros wines from truly unique locations. Think the rich minerality that comes from the volcanic islands which we all fell in love with last summer, an amour set to florish again. This year - you can also let your thoughts wander to birthplace of wine in Eastern Europe. Following a bad harvest in the west of Europe, California and Argentina will be no doubt be cashing in and driving up the price of more traditional regions - so this is a good time to start tasting these more reasonably priced and adventurous bottlings from Eastern European. 

Flavoured Gin...
Whatever you think about this, there's no stopping the tide of fruity gins. It's coming. From where? Well, we may have the Spanish to thank for this one. For years we've been saying how much we admire the way the Spanish deal with their G&Ts in those giant coppa glasses drunk abundantly in the sunshine. Well now we’ve adopted the glassware - they've gone changed it up again with lashings of flavoured gin. With new products coming to market this year from some of your favourite brands let’s channel our Mediterranean amigos… fingers crossed the weather gets the memo.  

Kombucha...
Kom again? If you haven't heard of it, kombucha is fermented fizzy tea. No but seriously guys, this is a thing. It's a bit of a health trend right now but it also is a great, easy to make and use, non-alcoholic cocktail ingredient. It's got body, fizz and flavour. Real Kombucha, the brand, has already focused its messaging on the booze industry and is pitching itself to be used in drinks with or without alcohol. Viva the year of the booch. 

Natural Wines...
A movement that's been gaining momentum for a few years, 2018 will be the year that natural wines grow out of specialist bars and take a bold position on more traditional wine lists. Natural wines are no longer the secret darling of the industry and their often cloudy appearance and zippy palate isn't putting us off.  These wines are by no means taking over but they’re sharing space somewhat seamlessly with your more typical bottles on the list. 

However - so we’ve said it… the natural wine movement also has plenty of soul-searching to do. Thankfully - we're not quite ready to accept the terrible, the opaque and the expensive just because it's natural. No sir. Movements like 'War on Terroir’ (@WarOnTerroir for hilarious, snapsy put-downs) are an example of the backlash of too many poor but pricey natural wines. 

Bar Cocktail Books...
Dead Rabbit Cocktail Book? Check. Death & Co Cocktail Book? Check. Nomad Cocktail Book? Check. Smuggler's Cove Cocktail Book? Check. This list of US bars with their own coffee table volume is lengthy. London and her watering holes haven't been so self-reflective, shall we say? We're a nation of self-doubters, that questions if anyone might care if we did something, before doing said thing - and we usually tell ourselves the answer is no anyway. Americans have got more confidence - and it paid off. Books flew off the shelves as the biggest and best bars shook hands with the publishing industry. Don't be surprised if 2018 marks the year London's brightest cocktail bars start employing ghost writers. (*waves) 

No & Low ABV Beer... 
While stats indicate that the sales of higher ABV beers have increased since last year, 2018 is still set to be a year of abstinence, when it comes to drinking anyway. Seedlip, the popular non-alcoholic spirit that has been dominating the sector looks set to expand their range as the public’s appetite for booze-free beverages shows no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile in beer, the recent launch of Small Beer Brew Co, a brewery that specialises only in beers ranging from 0.5 - 2.8%, signals a shift from a time when low / no ABV beers were considered an afterthought. Other popular brands producing tasty brews without the booze include Big Drop, whose 0.5% stout uses milk proteins to ensure texture and body, and the big boys at Budweiser who enter the sector with their brand new 0.0% Prohibition Brew, which is a new take on an old recipe. 

And Finally The One Even The Papers Are Talking About...
Yep, sustainability isn't going anywhere. In fact it's getting savier. How so? Well thanks to a tonne of media coverage we're finally all learning to ask more questions and not take anyone's word that their concept, glassware or even straws are simply 'sustainable'. Take it from someone who has spent the past five months moonlighting at Mr Lyan's Cub, we've become savy earth-savers. 

So what advancements will 2018 bring to the food and drink industry in their quest to stop producing so much waste? You may have noticed there's a lot of chat right now about the unsuspecting plastic straw. Single-use plastic is something the world needs to scrap, and quickly. London happens to be one of the world's worst offenders for these harmful straws as well - we throw away the same amount each year as all of Italy combined - around two billion of them. With the Evening Standard launching its Last Straw Campaign you may notice your bartender throwing some serious shade your way if you ask for a straw to preserve your lipstick or bleached teeth. It's cool to care and drinking from the glass just became de rigueur, didn't you know. 

But straws aren't everything. Using entire ingredients, otherwise known as 'closed-looped’ within cooking and bartending is fast becoming a hot trend too. Whether that's apple skins to make syrups or citrus husks to make jellies, bars and kitchens working together to divide produce is a genius way of cutting down waste. Speaking of, there's a hefty amount of waste coming out of London's foodie scene that isn't being composted and is ending in landfil. Expect to see some of your favourite bars and restaurants talking a lot more about their wormeries in 2018. Wild.