New year, new you? How about new year, new food. This year will build on many trends that sprung roots in 2019 and show no signs of wilting away.
Kevin Collins, owner of Melzingah Tap House in Beacon, anticipates that brewers will focus more on their surroundings. “Brewers are employing concepts like sourcing local and hyper-local ingredients, giving back to their respective communities in the way of collaboration-for-cause, charity brewing initiatives, promoting community awareness through their product names and branding, and more,” he explains.
Expect to see more diversity in the brewing business, too — not in the beer, but in who makes the beer. “Data shows that there is a fast-growing sector of females and ethnically diverse consumers, but many people still envision the person who makes the brew as a burly-bearded man,” adds Collins. “A coming trend is in the diversity of whom is actually doing the brewing. More diversity, more creativity, more awesomeness!”
(From left) Matty Hutchins and Sterling Knight of Mama Roux / Photo by Ann Stratton ; Tyler Zielinski, creative director at Lawrence Park / Photo by Justin Sisson
Buying local has long been a priority in the region, but Chef Matty Hutchins of the newly opened Mama Roux in Newburgh would like to see more ways for chefs and restaurants in the Hudson Valley to connect with local farms. “I am very passionate about the farm-to-table movement, but I’ve had to have a softer hand with it; not just because of the difficulty getting the products, but what people are willing to pay for them,” says Hutchins. “Do people want to pay $18 for a burger? Probably not. Something needs to change to make these products more affordable — profitability balanced with ethics. We are steadily moving in that direction, so I’d like to see that continue this year.”
David Garrett, beverage manager at Liberty Street Bistro in Newburgh, says he is seeing more mindfulness both behind and at the bar. “The demand from environmentally conscious consumers for straws made of alternative materials and locally made products has sparked a ‘Think Local, Think Global’ movement,” shares Garrett. “It challenges beverage professionals to buy responsibly, be creative, and make drinks with local products. We have to do the research and source — or make — the products that make up a ‘Mindful’ Bar Program.”
Affordability and accessiblity remain challenges of the farm-to-table movement / Photo by Zoraida Lopez-Diago
“It’s no secret that the bar industry is inherently wasteful,” agrees Tyler Zielinski, a spirits writer and the creative director at Lawrence Park in Hudson. “While there has been a big focus on the removal of plastic straws from bars — something that is definitely important for bettering our environment — not as many bars have focused on reducing their carbon footprint by way of lessening their food waste, which is significantly more harmful to the environment.”
Zielinski also points to another trend that has continued to gain momentum: non-alcoholic drink options. “Historically, guests have only had the options of juices or sodas, which can make them feel left out from a fun drinking experience. Now, bars have begun to create ‘mocktails’ which look and taste like cocktails, except leave out the booze.”
Sterling Knight, owner-operator at Mama Roux agrees. “Guests want more choice in the matter,” she says. “You can’t leave anyone out.”