With the New Year fast approaching, it’s safe to say that we are all feeling ready to leave 2020 behind and start anew. Along with the obvious elements of the year to which we’ll be all too happy to say goodbye — like quarantines, spray-tanned politicians, and natural disasters — there are some particular trends in the drinks space that we at VinePair are ready to let go of.
The drinks world has been hit hard by Covid-19, from bar and restaurant closures to aluminum shortages. While the pandemic has forced drinks pros to think on their feet, leading to new and exciting trends that will surely expand in 2021, others feel so “last year.”
From bad virtual party execution to unsafe Covid-19 drinking practices, these are the drinks trends we’re looking forward to ditching in 2021.
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Bad Zoom Happy Hours
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that not all Zoom parties are created equal. If planned right, virtual events can be a hit. But when poorly planned and badly attended, these events can feel more like chores than fun social gatherings.
As it looks like online meetups will remain part of our lives for at least the first half of the coming year, it’s time to up our virtual happy hour game. In-person parties are a thing of the past (at least for now), so when you log onto Zoom, treat the event like a real party. Come with your drink made, ready to socialize through screens with your faraway friends. That means cameras and microphones should stay on, so the conversation can flow. In 2021, let’s leave behind blank screens and awkward silences. We deserve better.
Saving Your Special Bottles
This past year has been a rollercoaster, and few of us are sad to see it end. Social distancing and travel restrictions have meant that those special celebrations — during which we are used to sharing festive drinks with friends and family — have been few and far between.
With holidays and special occasions feeling less special than ever, 2020 has made us question why we ever saved those bottles in the first place. In 2021 — since we don’t know when holidays and parties will begin to feel normal again — we’re opening the most exciting wines, beers, and spirits on our bar carts and in our fridges whenever we get the chance. Though nothing can compare to popping exciting bottles with loved ones, 2021 is the time to celebrate being alive, healthy, and finally free from all that was 2020.
Irresponsible ‘Outdoor’ Dining
There’s nothing we miss more than going out to dinner with friends, sharing nibbles and bottles of wine. But Covid-19 has meant temporarily giving up some of life’s luxuries, trading fine dining for takeout on paper plates. While there’s nothing that VinePair wants more than for restaurants to succeed during the ongoing pandemic, we also believe that Covid safety is the most important thing.
Bubble-like structures have been popping up on the streets of every major city, allowing for outdoor dining during the cold winter months. And while some are small enough to fit just a single table where restaurant patrons can dine with a significant other or pod, others are communal structures housing multiple tables and offering minimal airflow. Not only do these bubbles put those dining in them at risk, blurring the line between outdoor and indoor dining, they also potentially expose servers to Covid-19. In 2021, we’re sticking with to-go orders and outdoor tables with heat lamps until we have vaccines.
Hating on Hard Seltzers
Most of us love hard seltzer. The ever-changing category is constantly introducing new flavors, formats, and other innovations, and imbibers can’t get enough. However, there are still those who love to hate on hard seltzers. Whether poking fun at its skinny cans, fruity flavors, or supposed simplicity, there are still plenty of naysayers who turn up their noses at hard seltzer, or who think the category isn’t for them.
In our opinion, those people don’t know much about hard seltzer. The category is rapidly evolving, meaning there is now a hard seltzer for almost anyone (and for skinny-can haters, some even come in traditionally shaped cans). In 2021, we’re taking hard seltzer seriously as the complex drink it is — and you should, too.
Masks With Straw Holes
It sounded like a great idea: We can be safe from Covid-19 while simultaneously taking part in one of our favorite activities: drinking. But while some straw masks allow sippers to drink without risking exposure to the coronavirus, others are iffy. Plus, walking around in a mask with a hole and a flap in the center isn’t the most fashion-forward choice.
In our humble opinions, mask-wearing and drinking simply don’t go together. Instead, why not wait to consume your to-go beverages until you’re back in the mask-less safety of your home?
Hazy Health Claims
In 2020 and prior, we’ve seen brands in almost every drinks category tout their supposed health benefits, natural techniques and ingredients, and association with exercise. But let us not forget: No alcoholic beverage is healthy. Sure, there are low-calorie options for imbibers watching their figures, but when brands claim to have health benefits, they are intentionally misleading consumers (don’t even get us started on “clean wine”).
In 2021, we’re recognizing that there is only one meaningful way that booze can benefit your health: when it’s used as hand sanitizer.
This story is a part of VP Pro, our free content platform and newsletter for the drinks industry, covering wine, beer, and liquor — and beyond. Sign up for VP Pro now!