This year, we welcomed a slate of new, and newly reopened, bars, the triumphant return of happy hour, and the explosion of agave spirits, zero-proof options and American-made liqueurs. With so much newness, you’d be forgiven if your plan for the next year is to just take stock of it all. But with each year seemingly even more unpredictable than the last, having some kind of guiding light as we step into 2023 isn’t such a bad idea. To get a sense of what the next year may hold, we checked in with some of our favorite drinkers and asked them what they will (and won’t) be bringing with them to the new year. Here’s what they had to say.
I spent the majority of this last year pregnant or breastfeeding, which means my intake has been pretty measured and 95 percent wine-based. TBH, I don’t miss Negroni or Margarita hangovers, but I do miss kicking off the night with a cocktail. Lately, to sate my craving, I’ve been making mini cocktails served in amaro glasses, siphoned off from the bigger batch, which I plan to do more of in the coming year. Also, I’ve never been super versed in old-school French wine, so I’m doing my best to catch up with lots of classic Burgundy and Rhône drinking, with a healthy measure of Champagne thrown in.
I’m tired of acting so sophisticated—generally in life, sure, but especially in my drinking habits. While I’ll never forsake the elegant Martini or distinguished Sazerac, I’m ready to take a more lighthearted approach. Give me pumpkin spice Mai Tais, Blue Hawaiian Jell-O shots shaped like pineapples and riffs on maligned drinks that emerged during cocktails’ so-called Dark Ages. Kitsch is back, after all, and I love a sugar rim.
Batch Big, Drink Small
For holiday entertaining made easy, batch these upgrades to the Negroni, Manhattan and Martini ahead of time to serve as mini drinks à la minute.
Over the last few years, as wine labels have become increasingly “fun,” I’ve defaulted to shopping for bottles that look good on the outside, without taking as much time to figure out what they might taste like on the inside. I justified this habit by assuming a brand’s approach to design signaled something telling about its approach to winemaking, and that any wine sporting Deadhead psychedelics or an illustration of anthropomorphic animals couldn’t possibly taste boring; this is loosely true, but it’s also lazy and probably made me overlook many amazing winemakers who forgo funky branding to concentrate on their actual wine. So I’m resolving to stop judging wines by their labels, and instead thoroughly explore specific varieties and regions, keep track of producers I vibe with and seek the advice of knowledgeable wine shop clerks, whom I once blew off with a reflexive “I’m just browsing.” It’s open season on sleeper gems and normcore hits at my house.
The recent impulse order of a Grasshopper at a new bar in my neighborhood was a positive experience, so I vow more exploration of fusty-sounding classics comprising components I’d normally avoid. Also on my to-do list: Start spending money on bottles of sherry, instead of going out for sherry-based drinks. Admit and accept that I will never like ready-to-drink cocktails, so I can stop wasting money trying new ones. And not directly about drinking, but alcohol-adjacent for someone as uncoordinated as myself: Take those two-step lessons at the honky-tonk before you leave Texas.
In our household, 2023 will be the Year of Freezer Cocktails. I’m not sure what took so long, but it wasn’t until this past fall that I dipped my toe (metaphorically) into batched and frozen drinks. The first foray was extremely simple: dirty vodka Martinis and standard Negronis, mixed up and chilled for a small Halloween house party. Since then, there’s been a jar of on-demand booze chillin’ (literally) in our icebox, ready for the mood to strike. Sure, it’s one step removed from installing a Kegerator in the kitchen, but… uhh… actually, that sounds awesome, too. Maybe in 2024?
Next year I would like to focus more on the neighborhood bar. I feel like a lot of bars that have opened or are popular are focusing on $26 Martini service or just gimmicky party drinks, and I would love to go back to the classics and go back to visiting bartenders and talking and laughing, especially in a neighborhood setting.
Last year, I promised myself I’d put the “rum” back in rumspringa. And while I did partake of many rums, it was still the Martini that had me in its grip. As such, I drank a lot of bad Martinis this year, somehow forgetting that there are many venues at which a Martini should simply not be ordered, like the airport. My advice to myself this year: Just order a whiskey-soda, you idiot. In 2023, I am predicting some Martini burnout all around, which means it’s time for me to get back to drinking all the other classics I love, and have been neglecting, like the Bamboo, or a perfectly constructed Daiquiri (three ways) or an ice-cold (and perhaps ice-less) Japanese whisky highball. I’m also going to get it together and start drinking beer more broadly, starting with a check in on ESBs.
The Wines of Right Now
We spoke to 150 sommeliers and retailers around the country to assemble a list of the 15 producers who represent the wine zeitgeist right now.