Food & Drink Trends 2016 (incl PR Trends): The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

It’s that time of the year again, a period of reflection on food and drink trends of 2016 when the usually mild-mannered, bespectacled Ms Gourmantic lets it out with no holding back while she kicks diplomacy in the teeth.

Food & Drink Trends 2016

This year, I’ve added another category, PR/Media Release Trends, thanks to the plethora of media releases and emails that have driven us bonkers during the year. So here it is, the “highly anticipated”, cliché-ridden masterpiece that I’ve cut my teeth on since 2014.

Food & Drink Trends 2016 (including PR Trends): The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The Good

  • new age pubs with beautiful refurbishments, revitalised food and drink offerings – here’s looking at the likes of The Dolphin, The Edinburgh Castle, East Village Sydney
  • new bars that put the joy back into the Sydney bar movement: Burrow Bar, Vernon’s Bar, The Long Goodbye, Kittyhawk, Big Poppa’s
  • we’ve said it for a while now (in fact 2 years ago) but French is finally back: Merci Hubert!
  • the high standard of restaurant bars such as at Long Chim
  • the return of the entree-main-dessert menu, especially for those of us who know what we want to eat and are not into sharing
  • hotel bars are now places you actually want to go to and drink: Grain Bar, Hacienda, Gilt Lounge, Zeta Bar
  • smoking – not the cancer-inducing type but smoking meats, produce, cocktails
  • the rise of cocktails at home and the home bartender
  • we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Aussie craft beer
  • good fried chicken, mac’n cheese and ribs
  • produce, provenance and quality ingredients prevail not only in food but in cocktails
  • the explosion of Australian craft gin on the market coupled with innovations such as Brookie’s Gin and Bloody Shiraz Gin and the use of Australian native botanicals
  • good quality cocktails on taps, bottled cocktails and edible garnishes
  • “fast casual” food where you get quality restaurant food at the speed of fast-food outlets
  • the growth of vermouth, low ABV cocktails and aperitifs
  • pickling food, poke (Hawaiian style sushi), raw vegan, paleo and health conscious cocktails
  • the rise of the whisky nerd – or should that be listed under “the bad”?
  • the new vodka-lime-and-soda, I mean, the ubiquitous Espresso Martini, now served at major events such as the delicious produce awards, and the Espresso Martini trolley at Kensington Street Social

The PR / Media Release Bad & Ugly aka #prfail

We receive a bucket load of irrelevant media releases from hot saunas and politics to alcohol abstinence and macular degeneration. But there are brilliant media releases by our favourite PR firms (they know who they are) that we welcome and appreciate especially when they send them to us early in the piece. But we’re not talking about those today, because let’s face it, this time of the year is about getting it off our chest.

  • way too many inanimate objects “are thrilled to announce” or “excited to announce” the opening of their new restaurant/bar/pub/cafe/shop/product
  • every venue opening is “highly anticipated”
  • everything is “with a twist” – Greek food with a twist, classic cocktails with a twist, French street food (wtf is that?) with a twist
  • the ever missing venue address in the media release
  • “yummy food and drink” used in media releases – seriously
  • taking 10+ emails back and forth for something that can be done in 2 – and charging the client for the time.
  • chefs described as “rattling the pans” and “cutting his teeth” – great visual, thanks
  • “New York style venue” – isn’t time we had “Sydney style”?
  • follow up emails on a cold call pitch – a most annoying time waster guaranteed way to meet with the “Delete” button
  • naming the interior designer of a venue well ahead of the chef
  • typoe’s, errant apostrophe’s, including missspelling the chefs/bartenders name (see what I’ve done here) even the name of the spirit they’re pitching for
  • clogging email by attaching numerous large photo files instead of providing a dropbox link
  • the PR who would rather waste your time by sending you blank messages through your website’s contact page or subscribe/unsubscribe to your newsletter just to get your email address instead of looking it up in their database
  • when PR take over a brand’s instagram and sound like PR and nothing like the brand. No, dear highly regarded, revered and award-winning Brand X whom I know very well, you’ll never convince me that you’re “drooling” over any cocktail.
  • self-proclaimed influencers with fake followers and fake likes given celebrity status in media releases
  • media invitations with missing key information (such as time and location) then to be told to look it up on another publication’s website (you can’t make this sh!t up!)
  • here’s one from an anonymous person who wanted to share , “PR are inviting so-called “influencers” (with their fake followers and fake likes) to food events where they don’t eat, to booze events when they don’t drink and to whisky/bourbon events when they outwardly tell you they hate brown spirits”
  • instagram-centric restaurant invitations where you end up reviewing cold food because you’re at the mercy of instagrammers taking their time to set up a flatlay
  • and here’s one from another anonymous person who gave me permission to post it, “I’m sick of being sent places with instagrammers who ruin meals, waste food and take one photo that takes all of 30 seconds work yet they order the whole menu.”

The Bad

  • can the #flatlay go away and die
  • can the cocktail #flatlay go away and melt into a puddle
  • the demise of fine dining and degustation menus
  • instagrammable food that doesn’t deliver on taste
  • pegs on cocktails are overrated
  • dessert fads such as raindrop cake (hello taste) and hybrid franken desserts (why aren’t we over this yet)
  • food served on wooden boards (I don’t mean cheese and charcuterie)
  • bad Negronis
  • lack of choice for quality late night dining that isn’t a burger, a kebab or fried chicken
  • calling bars “hidden bars”. Seriously, how can anything be “hidden” when media jumps all over it before it opens?
  • breakfast served with toasted sourdough bricks that no steak knife can cut
  • venues changing the food/drink menu as little as 2 weeks after opening
  • why is the smear on the plate still around?
  • we still don’t have enough restaurants using indigenous Australian ingredients
  • “street food” when it costs a bomb
  • brioche buns, because we don’t get enough sugar in our diet
  • salt and pepper calamari – yawn
  • pulled anything – pork, chicken, lamb and while we’re at it, deconstructed <insert word>… so 2014
  • glowing reviews from “influencers” and blog contributors when a) the food didn’t come up to standard and b) you overheard them complaining about it loudly on the night
  • taking out of town friends to a restaurant you reviewed (less than 6 months ago) with a renowned resident chef and exciting cuisine only to find out on the night that they dumped the concept for burgers
  • pink fairy floss in cocktails – what am I, 8 years old?
  • American fast food craze needs to die and let Southern American cuisine replace it.
  • the roaming giant pepper grinder in restaurants – please leave it on my table and let me grind my own pepper, thanks
  • venues adopting a hybrid food theme that doesn’t deliver, just because everyone is doing it
  • while I’m at it, not being able to buy a bottle of wine after 10pm or enjoy a single malt neat in a nice glass after midnight in Sydney bars

The Ugly

  • heart attack inducing quadruple decker burgers, stroke inducing brunch with greasy croissant filled with mac n cheese, bacon and egg and instant diabetes frankenshakes

Until next year!

You may also like: Top 10 Cocktail Trends of 2016, Top 10 New Spirits of 2016, Top 10 New Sydney Restaurants 2016Top 10 New Sydney Bars 2016, Top 12 Restaurant Dishes 2016, Top 12 Cocktails of 2016

Photo Credit: Supplied

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.