The year of the little guy

Posted: January 2nd, 2015 | Downtown Drink Shrink, Featured, Food & Drink | 1 Comment

Jeff Josenhans | Drink Shrink

As a twenty-year veteran of the beverage industry, I’ve seen small and big trends come and go.

Some of the most notable ones have actually happened in the most recent years.

Big, oaky California wines have given way to a more elegant, European-hybrid style. Varietals like Malvasia and Carignan are no longer shunned on the wine list.

Whiskey has taken over vodka as the liquor of choice in most bars.

Master Mixologist and Sommelier Jeff Josenhans of The Grant Grill. (Photo courtesy Grant Grill)

Master Mixologist and Sommelier Jeff Josenhans of The Grant Grill. (Photo courtesy Grant Grill)

Craft beer brewers are trying not to become the corporate organizations they are simultaneously dethroning in the American “yellow beer” industry, and ironically are also slowly shifting away from the IPAs in favor of higher quality classic lager styles.

So with another crazy holiday season finally behind us, the question inevitably becomes, “What’s next?”

With this question in mind, I paused for a minute recently to stop and think about what made the strongest impression on me — and those around me — in the festive world of social drinking over the last year.

The growler of a small-batch test brew from a local brewery was special. This is the arena that brewers can play in without having to be a large production facility or committing to a label design on a bottle.

A wine I picked up directly from the winemaker in Valle de Guadalupe (down in Baja, California) was not only the most sound wine I have had from the area, but getting it from the hands that created it made the experience all that more special when it was consumed over dinner.

And THAT is what I think will be driving consumer trends again in 2015.

We don’t just want to buy a handcrafted bottle of gin from anywhere in the United States or abroad, we want to buy it from Ballast Point, where we can go and personally watch them make it.

It’s become all about the experience.

The word “craft” does not mean as much as it used to, mostly because it’s just becoming the standard. But now we want to take part in what we consume and feel like a tiny part of our soul is in that bottle in front of us.

I took the plunge into home brewing this past year and my friend’s favorite beer of the year might have been mine. It definitely was not technically sound; I definitely screwed up the boil and mash; but the fact that someone they knew made it for them — that is what people will pay for whenever they get the opportunity these days.

Looking for a unique birthday gift or something special for this year’s upcoming Valentine’s Day?

Head to the little guy (or gal)!

—Level 2 CMS Sommelier and Master Mixologist Jeff Josenhans has changed the dynamic at The Grant Grill from a classic institution to an exciting lounge and elegant restaurant. Taking the kitchen’s “Farm to Table” philosophy to the bar, he has developed a seasonal cocktail program based largely on the hotel’s rooftop garden. He can be reached at

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