1. LIQUID CULTURE: Maturing Mixology
Mixology might seem like the mustachioed macho man of the culinary crowd, but it’s had to vie for industry legitimacy (also known as a seat at the big boys’ table) for years, distinguishing itself with in-crowd exclusivity and secret passageways, assuming various faux-dive, hipster-chic, and speakeasy-historic mantles. Those aren't gone, but at this point (and we expect with even more clout in 2012) mixologists and cocktail-driven concepts aren’t obligated to earn their way into restaurant infrastructure; they’re an indispensable, expected part of it, which is why we’re seeing more pretense-free, well-researched cocktail bars (free-standing and incorporated into restaurants). The emphasis here is hospitality, felt deeply and given generously (in any setting), which Stanislav Vadrna explored in quirky depth at our 2011 ICC.