Thanks to Instagram, cocktail culture is making a nation-wide comeback.
Ok, cocktails have never truly gone out of style, but a cocktail movement on the level of, say, craft beer or cold-brew coffee hasn’t really happened outside the major cities. And even there, you have to go to the bar and throw down at least $15 per drink.
But in recent years, the bars, mixology pros, and independent distilleries began posting pictures of brightly colored cocktails, the recipes for making them, and accouterments like diamond-shaped ice cubes, and it wasn’t long before the everyman jumped onboard the trend. The at-home mixologist, or drinkstagrammer, was born, and now there are tons of them online, sharing their creations with a growing community.
One of the biggest reasons people cite for this movement is that technology is helping to demystify the cocktail. Proper mixology requires not just good ingredients, but precise measurements, technique, and possibly a little chemistry. Before the internet, you either went to school for these things or saved cocktail drinking for nights out. Now you can learn online, and a lot of these drinkstagrammers are eager to show you how.
We’re also getting more alcohol delivered to our homes, which encourages at-home bartending. There are companies and stores that deliver the actual booze, and a handful of cocktail-kit services that provide ingredients. And all of this is considerably cheaper than going out for drinks on a regular basis.
It’s fun, too, as the wide range of Instagram accounts devoted to cocktails shows. Elliott Clark, who runs the very popular handle “apartment_bartender,” humorously describes himself as a “semi-decent home bartender” then proceeds to post intricate creations like a spiced-rum pomegranate sour. Elsewhere, Stir and Strain shows you how to turn things like Everclear into a delicacy. And Melissa Lapido, a self-professed “intoxicologist and garnish master,” makes sculptural drinks that would make for an interesting project to try any night of the week.
Drinkers and amateur mixologists aren’t the only ones to benefit from the online cocktail culture. For smaller distilleries, the movement is a way to get more visibility and recognition. The distilling industry is a notoriously challenging one, being both expensive highly regulated. If you’re not working with the budget of a major liquor company like Bacardi, it’s tough to get distribution, let alone a large following. Either by maintaining their own Instagram feed or appearing in recipes posted by others, these smaller brands and companies look to finally be having their day, too.