The good folks from Eau Claire Distillery, a spirits producer near Calgary in Canada, recently surveyed more than 1,000 Americans about their eating and drinking habits. Some of the responses gave us some, um, food for thought.
The great news, Eau Claire Distillery tells us, is that the craft distilling industry seems poised for a major boom. Most survey respondents, Eau Claire says, say they ask for specific brands of liquor when ordering a drink at a bar or restaurant, and nearly 70 percent ask for or prefer “craft” spirits—small-batch spirits made by artisanal methods. They aren’t just ordering shots of whiskey, either: 70 percent of survey respondents said they like cocktails, and 85 percent of those generally drink between one and three cocktails a week. (Which seems low, actually. Your drinks editor, who takes her job very seriously, averages that many per night. Don’t tell her doctor.)
“The survey’s findings made it clear that American drinkers have a clear preference for craft spirits, and the pent-up demand is quite similar to what we saw prior to the craft beer boom,” says David Farran, the founder of Eau Claire Distillery. “We expect the craft distilling industry to see immense growth, mirroring the trajectory of the craft beer industry. Americans like their cocktails and they value knowing where their spirits come from and how they were made, from seed to sip.”
This is cool, since—not to knock the big brands here, many of which are excellent—it’s great to support smaller spirits producers, many of whom are doing some really creative and interesting stuff.
We’re a little worried about what the survey revealed about the respondents’ approaches to food, though. More than 84 percent said it’s important to know where your food comes from. Which, yes! This is true! And then we were dismayed to see that while 76 percent of Gen Xers said that good ingredients are very important when making food and drinks, just 61 percent of Millennials (those 24 to 36 years old) agreed.
Guys. (And here I’m addressing the 39 percent of you who gave the objectively wrong answer.) Actually… I’m just gonna let a few big-name chefs take this one.
Alice Waters: “Good food can only come from good ingredients.”
Thomas Keller: “If you think about any restaurant, it’s a very simple equation: whether it’s Ad Hoc or Per Se or Daniel, it’s all about the quality of the ingredients and the quality of the execution.”
Tom Colicchio, on how to make the best sandwich: “If you treat a sandwich like a meal, and you put really high-quality ingredients in, then you end up with something really good.”
Eric Ripert, on why he, a French chef, is so into sushi: “In France, the cooking has some similarity to what sushi masters do. It’s ritual, and it has a classic base with maybe a few twists. It’s about quality ingredients and mastering the craft”
So, yeah. Ingredients matter. Go forth and care more. You’ll eat and drink better for it.
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