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You really don’t need a crystal ball to forecast some of the tendencies that will carry on to dominate Denver’s food and beverage scene in 2022. The QR codes are here to stay and we’re warming up to year-spherical outside eating. But what about the micro-tendencies that chefs and cocktail artisans are rooting for—the components they’re hoping we’ll bite at and the drinks that they’re betting will garner enjoyment in the new yr?
We posed the dilemma to nearby chefs and bartenders: “What developments do you assume will consider off in 2022?” Here’s what they have to say.
Mezcal…as an Component
You’ve seen tequila-lime shrimp or whiskey-braised brief ribs on restaurant menus ahead of. Upcoming up are mezcal-spiked dishes, predicts three-time James Beard Award nominee Dana Rodriguez, who is opening Cantina Loca, a Mexican avenue meals place, on January 12 in LoHi. There, she’ll have a tasting home for her premium mezcal, Doña Loca. But the smoky agave spirit will also incorporate complexity to dishes like the cantina’s salsa borracha (a drunken salsa). Mezcal, she suggests, is ripe for culinary experimentation. As an illustration: Previous drop, she donated some of her compact-batch mezcal to “Hispanic Major Chef,” a culinary competitiveness held at Metropolitan Point out College by the Colorado-dependent Hispanic Restaurant Affiliation. Used as a “secret component,” a single of the contestants created a delightfully sweet and smoky pork marinade.
Pizza, French fries, fried rooster, and mac ’n cheese were a portion of the excellent convenience food items comeback of 2020 and 2021. Now, it’s time to take in your veggies. “I imagine 2022 is the yr of vegetables—or just wholesome taking in in standard,” predicts Jeff Osaka, operator of Osaka Ramen and Sushi-Rama dining places. Osaka, for the initially time, place a vegetable-focused ramen as the seasonal distinctive on the menu at his RiNo ramen place. Loaded with roasted Brussels sprouts and mushrooms and manufactured with squash broth, sage-miso butter, and tofu, it’s been a preferred buy in December, even forward of the healthier ingesting New Year’s resolutions.
Fermentation (But Make it Faster)
Prior to there were being freezers and canned foodstuff, fermentation was the way to protect food. In the last number of decades, while, the generations-outdated method has designed a comeback, with kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir achieving star position, thanks in component to the possible gut health added benefits they have.
Derek Simcik, the director of culinary operations for Sage Restaurant Concepts (City Farmer, Kachina Cantina, and far more), says he expects applications like OCOO to start out earning their way into kitchens. “Think of it as a force cooker for fermentation,” he suggests. As an instance, black garlic—which is fresh garlic which is been aged and fermented—takes three hours in its place of three months, he says. The kitchen resource can put together lengthy-fermented pastes like Korean Gochujang or soybean paste in a matter of several hours, rather than months.
Talking of fermentation, Simcik claims koji paste (a Japanese fermentation starter) is owning a moment. “I appreciate rubbing a minimal bit of koji on beef and permitting it sit for a little bit prior to provider, as it brings a gamey or funky flavor, identical to what you obtain in dry-aged, grass-fed beef,” he suggests.
A Emphasis on Asia
A few of decades ago, coconut milk attained recognition in the United States as a multipurpose and dairy-cost-free choice to milk, states chef Taylor West, proprietor of Denver-based GetFed Concepts and a personal chef who sales opportunities sushi and dim sum pop-ups. West predicts miso and turmeric are about to be amid the following “it” elements to acquire off stateside. He’s been using miso a large amount in his dishes, with the fermented paste adding umami to every thing from starters to desserts.
“Miso caramel is one thing I’ve been making use of on my modern tasting menus and it’s been a seriously enjoyable way to introduce the ingredient to folks,” he states. As for turmeric, the golden spice has been employed for hundreds of years in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medication, and it has been well known in the United States in golden milk lattes and in supplement type. But the spice is getting additional mainstream (assume it in dishes and cocktails!) and Whole Food items place it on its record of top 10 food traits for 2022.
Experiential Eating (At Residence)
To-go has been a go-to in the past couple of a long time, and the future iteration of this trend is a more experiential takeaway practical experience, predicts Denver restaurateur Frank Bonanno (his concepts consist of Mizuna, Luca, Osteria Marco, and many others). “I can see standard administrators starting off to search at these orders as a way to recreate the cafe experience at property,” Bonanno suggests. “More to-go cocktail alternatives? It’s possible a locally produced candle to insert some flare? A complimentary dessert? Themed menus? There are so numerous means to get creative.”
Cocktails with Massive Flavors
The spicy margarita will hold its well-known cocktail crown and more versions of it will emerge in this agave-loving town, predicts Drew Stephens, bar manager at Green Russell close to Union Station. He also expects dirty martinis with various brines and washes and infusions will attain some momentum. The espresso martini could continue on to go powerful as its one that can be manufactured with liquors other than vodka (imagine: tequila or amaro) to distinction the strong espresso and chocolate notes.
One thing these beverages have in common? They’re no shrinking violets. These bevvying up to the bar are craving “big, daring flavors and delicate, nuanced flavors have fallen out of the limelight,” Stephens says.
Gone (ideally) are the days of juicing a lime or zesting a lemon and then tossing the fruit’s carcass out. Stephens claims bartenders are getting a lot more resourceful, and doing so in the identify of sustainability. “I hope we see issues like scrap cordials manufactured with spent fruits and fruit skins along with repurposing outdated crimson wine, like Eco-friendly Russell does with our cranberry cordial,” Stephens says. Yet another sustainability example at his bar is the acidulated crimson wine which is designed by introducing citric acid to oxidized pink wine to give it the identical punch as lemon or lime in a cocktail. It can be applied in area of a lemon in some thing as very simple as a whiskey sour, Stephens says, and tastes excellent.
Handle Your self Mentality
Soon after saving income by cooking at house, friends are inclined to make some splurges when they dine out, in accordance to chefs from Hai Hospitality, the group at the rear of RiNo’s Uchi. That means patrons will go for individuals greater-finish products like caviar, A5 wagyu, and specialty fish and order leading-shelf Japanese whiskies and sake.
Whiskey Cocktail Revival
We will need not depend the techniques in which Coloradans enjoy whisky (and whiskey-forward bars). But whiskey cocktails are completely ready for a shakeup. “Bartenders and guests have so significantly to experiment with when pondering about whiskey,” says Cooper Smith, function manager at Seven Grand Whiskey Bar on the Dairy Block. Alongside the classics (Previous Fashioneds, Sazeracs, and Manhattans), be expecting to see much more believed becoming poured into whiskey beverages. For example, Smith says: Which cocktails operate finest with a rye vs. a bourbon? Can peated scotch be employed exterior of drinks like the Penicillin? Could the caffeinated Revolver be the future cocktail to make a comeback?