Trying to guess what 2017 has in store is something of a fool’s game, but no one ever said I was anything but. Some of these predictions are Seattle-specific, others about broader drinking trends:
1. Seattle will get another awesome wine bar. There are too many passionate wine drinkers here for us not to have a plethora of them, but, oddly, right now there are only a few decent choices, and several neighborhoods have none. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy a great glass of wine many places, but a wine bar is functionally different from a restaurant with a good wine list, and it serves a different purpose.
2. Getting your hands on your favorite Westland Single Malt might be tricky: The buzz those guys are generating is reaching a fever pitch in the spirits world. As the entire American single-malt category continues to improve in both quality and quantity, the SoDo distillery is paving the way, and with several major distributors calling, more of the spirit will likely be leaving Seattle—good for Westland, but maybe bad for the rest of us!
3. You are going to be inundated with wine celebrities. Be on the lookout for TV shows, YouTube channels, and about a billion insta-famous wine bloggers and pundits. Some might be good, some might not know anything, but they will be legion.
4. Cocktail culture will retreat a bit from the endless obsession with innovation, and a bit more attention will be paid to popularizing the classics. In particular, 2017 could be a great year for brandy-based cocktails, from the Vieux Carré to the brandy Old Fashioned to the sidecar.
5. 2017 could also be the year that Washington syrah finally makes it big. The quality has never been higher, and—even more exciting—interesting and dynamic wines are available at almost all price points. In fact, some of the most enjoyable bottles retail for $25 or less: The Pundit from Tenet Wines and the Two Vintners syrah were two of my favorites this year.
6. We’re also going to see more wine tourism in Seattle proper. Alongside Charles Smith’s Jet City Winery in Georgetown and the rapidly growing number of winemakers and tasting rooms in SoDo, expect to see a few more big names either move from Woodinville or open a second tasting room within the city limits.
7. Unfortunately, I’m pessimistic about the future for a lot of iconic Seattle bars. I’ve spoken to a number of bar owners who are worried about their ability to keep the doors open, what with ever-increasing rent and skyrocketing labor costs. Some might move to less-trendy neighborhoods, others might try to see if $15-plus cocktails will sell—but I bet we lose at least one landmark bar before 2017 is up.