1220 artisan spirits gin photo by jonathan gayman

6 St. Louis drinking trends we're watching now

1. Local Gin
Gin isn’t exactly new on the local spirits scene. Distilleries like Spirits of St. Louis and Pinckney Bend have been producing quality versions for years, but local production of the juniper-forward tipple has been on the rise. Still630 Distillery, which made its name with whiskey, got into the gin game last year with Volstead’s Folly American Gin and followed up this year with American Navy-Strength Gin. The folks behind 4 Hands Brewing Co. joined the distilling milieu this spring, debuting the 1220 Artisan Spirits Distillery operation with Origin Gin.

2. Big Beers in Cans
Once upon a time, big bold beers demanded big bottles, but it’s hard to drink 22 ounces of a boozy stout in one sitting. Luckily, many are going the way of their lighter brethren – aluminum. Perennial Artisan Ales made a big push toward canning this year, including its Fantastic Voyage, an 11.5 percent Imperial milk stout with loads of dried coconut that now resides in 16-ounce cans. Likewise, 2nd Shift Brewing moved its Imperial stout, Liquid Spiritual Delight, to 12-ounce cans earlier this year. While 4 Hands Brewing Co.’s ever-popular Chocolate Milk Stout made the move to cans three years ago, 2018 saw its 8.5 percent Imperial IPA Ca$h Mony make the year-round roster in 12-ounce four-packs.

3. Dry Lambrusco
Like rosé, lambrusco used to have a reputation for being a too-sweet soda alternative ordered by grandmas or college students who hadn’t yet learned how to drink. Now, dry lambruscos truer to the classic Italian style are increasingly popular on St. Louis wine lists. With four bottles on offer, Louie is leading the charge. Owner Matt McGuire said it’s killer with any charcuterie or spicy food. Union Loafers recently offered a dry lambrusco by the glass, and Westport Social still does. Vicia has paired its tasting menu charcuterie course with Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Sorbara (a previous Sauce fixation). There are also several bottles you can bring home at Parker’s Table.

4. Milk Cocktails
You don’t have to be The Dude to enjoy milk in cocktails these days. Bartenders are using everything from regular cow milk like in Frazer’s fruity, creamy OMG, They Pop! to super old-school clarified milk punch – as in the boozy Prince Albert at The Benevolent King and Retreat’s Tan Lines, made with chocolate milk-washed tequila. The Benevolent King’s rum-based Ali’i cocktail incorporates kefir, and there are plenty of vegan milk cocktails like the Moloko Plus at Taste, made with pistachio milk, or the Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With That at The Blue Duck, which includes two corn milk ice cubes. Coconut milk also makes an appearance in the tropical Peruvian Sunset at Small Batch and He’s After Me Too at Reeds American Table.

5. Spiked Sparkling Water
LaCroix lovers and health-conscious imbibers now have a wide selection of spiked sparklers to choose from. Truly Spiked & Sparkling and White Claw Hard Seltzer are both made with alcohol distilled from sugar and come in a variety of fruit flavors. Established spirits companies are also getting in on the trend with products like Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzers and Sauza Agua Fuerte, which is made with tequila and comes in lime, grapefruit and mango.

6. Aloe Liqueur
St. Louis bartenders are adding a taste of aloe vera to cocktails, and you should too. Made in California, Chareau Aloe Liqueur combines aloe, cucumber, lemon peel, spearmint, muskmelon and sugar into a fresh, sweet, vegetal, citrusy amalgam that plays well with all manner of spirits. Get a taste in drinks like the Exit Strategy with cachaça, pineapple and ginger at Retreat, the Clean & Green with lemon and mint at Público and the Cali Margarita at Reeds American Table. Experiment at home; Chareau is available for purchase at Intoxicology, The Wine and Cheese Place and The Wine Merchant.

Editor's Note: The print version of this article misidentified 1220 Artisan Spirits. The online version has been updated to correct the error.