Our news feeds can be a worrying, often disheartening landscape, but luckily there’s always booze to lift our spirits — even when there’s no glass or bottle in sight.
From thirsty alligators to bears with immaculate palates, our most popular news stories of the year featured a host of unusual and unsuspected protagonists. The headlines were also dominated by weird and wonderful product releases, and, inevitably, one particular brand of hard seltzer.
Here are VinePair’s 33 most popular booze news stories of 2019.
A coffee at McDonald’s, one song on iTunes, or a subscription to a monthly razor blade supplier: What exactly is one dollar worth to you? In one wine-producing town on the Italian island of Sicily, it became the price of a home.
Australia’s Vegemite spread is the epitome of polarizing food products: There are those who hate it, and then there are those, like one Australian distillery, that love it so much, they tried to capture its malty, umami-rich profile in a flavored liqueur.
In September, a huge gin spill caused the closure of a U.K. highway for 11 hours, following a collision between two semi trucks. Emergency services worked through the night to prevent the flammable liquid from igniting, covering it with protective foam.
Pabst Blue Ribbon’s (PBR) seven-foot-long 99-pack originally appeared during the 2017 holiday season, but was only available for purchase in Canada. This November, American PBR fans had cause for celebration when the pack became available for a limited time in 15 states.
Ever found yourself with a spare $100 and an abundance of sparkling wine you’d rather spray on your friends than drink? Nope, neither have we. But apparently this market exists and in February, the “Bubbly Blaster” launched to meet the demand.
In what could someday become the best Boilermaker of all time, Pabst Brewing, makers of the beloved Pabst Blue Ribbon beer (better known to many as PBR), unveiled its own whiskey in March.
During an early-morning thunderstorm in June, the O.Z. Tyler Distillery in Owensboro, Ky., suffered a partial collapse of its rickhouse. Luckily, no one was hurt, but Master Distiller Jacob Call reported that 4,000 barrels of bourbon were affected by the collapse.
While some New Yorkers prescribe bourbon and pickle juice as a hangover cure, Texans appear to prefer their brine served with beer. In August, Fort Worth’s Martin House Brewing Co. and Best Maid Pickles collaborated to release a sour beer made with pickle juice.
Sabering Champagne is an impressive spectacle, perfect for special occasions like weddings and New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, as the staff of Napa Valley’s three-Michelin-starred French Laundry restaurant found out, things can go awry when trying to pry the cork off a highly pressurized bottle using an ornamental sword.
Pabst Brewing debuted (yet another) new product in July: Pabst Hard Coffee. The canned beverage launched with a coffee-and-cream-colored label reading: “the original Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Iced Coffee with a dash of milk.”
At North Carolina’s Divine Llama Vineyards, which also doubles as a llama farm, visitors were invited to hike the winery’s property in the company of its furry residents before sipping on award-winning wine.
Western New York couple Kitty Ulrick and Kevin Worosz came up with an ingenious, artistic use for more than 3,000 empty wine, beer, and liquor bottles: They turned them into a colorful backyard shed.
In March, Switzerland’s Glacier Express introduced luxury “Excellence Class” tickets on its St. Moritz-to-Zermatt route. During the eight-hour train ride, passengers could enjoy a five-course menu complete with paired wines, Champagne, and uninterrupted views of the Alps.
The Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Denver, Colo., introduced a sparkling addition to its room service in July: The Puppies + Prosecco Package. The limited-time promotion for National Dog Day enabled guests to order puppies and Prosecco to their rooms.
This year, the Quinta da Pacheca Estate in Douro, Portugal became one of a number of wineries and distilleries to follow a growing trend for up-cycling large, used oak barrels into bespoke accommodations.
A California bear with impeccable taste was caught on camera stealing Pinot Noir grapes from a Mendocino County vineyard. Located in the Anderson Valley, Navarro Vineyards & Winery filmed the hungry bear using CCTV cameras installed in one of its vineyards.
One man’s impressive 20-year, booze-filled scavenger hunt landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records in November. Viet Nguyen Dinh Tuan, a resident of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, owns a collection of 535 old and rare Scotch whiskies, valued at £10,770,635 (approximately $13.9 million). It is officially the world’s most valuable whisky collection.
During the July ticker-tape parade in New York City, Megan Rapinoe, the star forward for the U.S. women’s soccer team, held the World Cup in one hand and a bottle of La Grande Dame Veuve Clicquot in the other. Broadcast on fellow soccer player Ashlyn Harris’s Instagram story, Rapinoe gloriously held the bottle of Champagne aloft while resting the trophy on her leg, shouting: “I deserve this.”
To help with the transition from summer to fall, Applebee’s introduced a boozy one-dollar cocktail for the month of September. Featuring five different types of alcohol, the bright-blue blend was a colorful twist on the Long Island Iced Tea and an instant hit among fans of the fast-casual dining chain.
In April, luxury tourism company Cookson Adventures partnered with a team of marine scientists to salvage hundreds of intact bottles of vintage alcohol from a shipwreck off the coast of Britain. Paying members of the public were invited to join them to help recover the haul of century-old Champagne, wine, and brandy.
Described by some as the “Oscars of the cheese world,” the 32nd annual World Cheese Awards took place in Bergamo, Italy in October. For the first time ever, an American cheese claimed top prize in the competition.
During a December probiotics conference, Eric Claassen, a professor who specializes in microbiology at Amsterdam University, claimed that Belgian beer can be very good for gut health when consumed in moderation.
In March, snow melt and heavy rainfall in Nebraska led to historic flooding. When water levels finally receded, residents started the arduous cleanup operation. Following a full day’s efforts, two Butler County residents spotted something completely out of place in the field they were walking through: a washed-up beer fridge, fully stocked with ice-cold Bud Light and Busch Light.
What do you get when you mix sour beer, glitter, unicorns, and Fruity Pebbles? An absurdly named, limited-release sour ale from Baltimore’s DuClaw Brewing.
In February, workers on a construction site in Viborg, Denmark uncovered an unexpected treasure: a crate of beer hidden beneath the floorboards more than 100 years ago.
Dorothy Flowers, a resident at the Southlands Care Home, in Harrogate, England celebrated her 108th birthday this October. The secret to her exceptionally long life? Drinking Champagne, apparently.
In February, a viral new form of yoga made national headlines. Much like traditional yoga, Rage Yoga combined breathing, stretching, and holding different postures. But the angry spin-off cranked up the attitude, encouraging participants to “scream it all out,” and let go of their inner rage in between ice-cold beer breaks.
In October, the Trump Administration announced the U.S. was going to impose new tariffs on European goods in an attempt to recoup losses sustained by American-based plane manufacturer Boeing.
In addition to the 10 percent tariff on European aircraft, a list provided by the Office of the United States Trade Representative showed that a variety of European foods and drinks would soon be hit with a 25 percent tax as well.
Located in Pano, Texas, K9 Cinemas went viral this May after news emerged that the theater was allowing dog lovers to watch movies on the big screen in the company of their four-legged friends. As if that wasn’t enough, K9’s standard admission price of $15 also included bottomless wine or four glasses of whiskey.
In May, an alligator smashed through the first-floor window of a Florida home and went right for the wine cabinet. Mary Wischhusen, the homeowner, heard a loud crash coming from downstairs around 3:30 a.m. She rushed to the scene and, to her dismay, found the giant reptile surrounded by bottles.
On Oct. 30, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) announced that the number of barrels aging bourbon in the state had officially overtaken its number of residents.
A North Dakota brewery helped local pups find their forever homes in November by featuring their faces on the front of its beer cans. Partnering with the rescue organization 4 Luv of Dog Rescue, Fargo Brewing Company included the dogs’ mugs on cans to help those harder-to-adopt pups get noticed.
White Claw may have confirmed a national shortage in September, but that didn’t stop one fraternity from reportedly buying $7,500 worth of the hard seltzer. At the H-E-B supermarket in Austin, Texas, employee Aaliyah Trevino posted a photo on Twitter of the frat’s three-palate haul — quite possibly the largest private White Claw purchase of the year.