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Cork Dork: Looking into the 2012 Crystal Ball and Crystal Glasses

The upcoming year promises to bring major changes and trends on how we buy and consume wine, beer and liquor.

Cork Dork: Looking into the 2012 Crystal Ball and Crystal Glasses Cork Dork: Looking into the 2012 Crystal Ball and Crystal Glasses

With 2011 coming to a close it is time to look ahead to 2012. Next year promises to be eventful and, perhaps, landmark for the wine, beer and liquor businesses on the Eastside.

The impact of Initiative 1183 is one of the biggest booze trends to watch in 2012. It becomes law on June 1.

The growing local distilleries, including Woodinville Whiskey Company, Pacific Distillery, JP Trodden Distilling, Project V Distillery, Soft Tail Spirits and Clubhouse Cellars in Woodinville, are positioned to benefit from the passage of Initiative 1183, privatizing liquor sales in Washington state. The new law will allow distilleries to negotiate directly with retailers, bars and restaurants and sell their wares directly to consumers.

who imports the rum-like sugar cane-based Cachaça from Brazil, expects the transition from state to private liquor sales to be difficult. He also fears that consumers will initially have to pay more for their favorite booze.

“You will have a little bit of chaos, at least during the first part of the year as the liquor board is winding down,” Axinte said. “Retailers and bars are going to have to do 20 times as much work because they will have to buy products from 20 different distributors instead of a single state liquor store.”

The growth of local distillers has also fueled the craft cocktails trend on the Eastside. Look for further growth in 2012. Naga at , a Thai restaurant in downtown Bellevue, is the unlikely location for the growth of craft cocktails on the Eastside. It has since expanded to places such as at The Heathman Hotel in Kirkland, and in Kirkland, The Fireside Cellar at in Woodinville, in downtown Bellevue, and and in Old Bellevue.

“I think bartenders are trying to get into the inventive cocktails,” said Trellis bar manager John Ueding. “There will be room for more original cocktails on the Eastside (in 2012).”

Ueding has dotted the Eastside, raising the bar (no pun intended) on craft cocktails along the way. Ueding raised the cocktail program at Monsoon East before leaving to open Barrio (with an assist from Heavy Restaurant Group cocktail director Casey Robison) and later landing at Trellis.

He promises to incorporate fruit and herbs from Trellis chef Brian Scheehser’s farm in Woodinville into his cocktail program. Look for lavender liqueur, garnishes of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, and cider made with apples from Scheehser’s farm.

Kevin Stewart at Cantinetta, Jason Saura at Naga, John Christensen at Monsoon East, Chris Faber at Lot No. 3, Ryan Lobe at The Fireside Cellar and Mark Sexauer at Milagro Cantina make it their personal mission to craft cocktails for guests’ tastes and whims.

For all the buzz around craft cocktail bars, club bars and pubs are not going away. Several bars catering to young professionals opened around the Eastside in 2011. Look for more in 2012.

in , Suite in and in Kirkland opened in 2011. Blue Martini is set to open in early 2012 at in downtown Bellevue. The bars at in Old Bellevue and in Redmond underwent facelifts in late 2011 and promise ambitious cocktail, beer and wine selections in 2012.

Veteran chef Seis Kamimura has been creating a versatile and sometimes whimsical menu at Munchbar. Kamimura sharpened his skills at restaurants such as Artisanal at The Bravern in Bellevue, Boka at Hotel 1000 in downtown Seattle, Stars in Pacific Place in downtown Seattle, Spago in Beverly Hills and Postrio in San Francisco.  

The K-Pub opened in late 2011 in the space that housed the venerable steak house 21 Central. This beer joint is decidedly more casual, serving traditional pub fare.

Blue Martini is the latest cocktail bar and live music venue for the West Palm Beach, Fla., based chain. It is set to open at The Bravern in the first quarter of 2012.

The beer and wine production industries continue to grow on the Eastside and across the state into 2012 and beyond.

in Woodinville, and in Redmond, Issaquah Brewhouse by Rogue Ales in Issaquah and Snoqualmie Falls Brewing in Snoqualmie are as dependable as beer itself. Look for more of the same quality craft brews from these local producers.

The 2011 wine harvest was challenging across most of Washington. The cool vintage condition particularly affected late ripening red varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon. White wine varietals, such as Sauvignon Blanc, fared better and will be the first to be released from the 2011 vintage as early as next fall.

Woodinville producers , , , and have historically crafted outstanding and distinctively different Sauvignon Blancs. The winemakers will show their winemaking skills with the challenging 2011 vintage.

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