Once a drink sipped mainly by gentlemanly “Mad Men” types in expensive suits and power ties, whiskey — spelled with and without the “e”, depending on the region — has risen in popularity in the drinking population the last few years, and seems poised to be here to stay.
Some theories rolling around about its resurgence range from favor in the hipster community to the prevalence of whiskey drinking bands like Mumford and Sons, to the simple fact that trends tend to repeat themselves for better or for worse.
“It’s just like everything in life, the era comes back in style,” said Katie Togiai, manager of restaurants and bars at The Sheraton Grand, one of downtown Sacramento’s largest hotels. “For whatever the reason, we’ve seen more and more people ordering Old Fashioneds and Manhattans and trying other less popular Bourbon drinks, and they seem to be liking them.”
The alcohol has found its way into pop culture, or possibly influenced it.
Popular television shows like the recently concluded sitcom, “How I Met Your Mother,” had two of the main characters — one a man and one a woman — often drinking the spirit, as does Don Draper — the lead for the aforementioned “Mad Men” — who drinks it throughout the entire day.
“It’s sort of like the cigar craze a few years back; everyone jumped on board with the latest trend,” said Jason Hieronimus, who has seen the spirit’s rise in popularity soar while overseeing events at The Sheraton Grand as one of the hotel’s banquet captains. “Except that whiskey is getting its due for good reason; it tastes good. It’s more like people are just discovering it and liking it.”
Many bartenders have noticed the trend catching on with both men and women.
“(It has caught on) definitely in downtown Sacramento,” said Christian Tolen, bartender at the Zebra Club in midtown Sacramento. “(Now it popular) with women. It used to be just bartenders or motorcycle riders — tough chicks draped in leather drinking it.”
Tolen speculates Sacramento picked up the trend from the Bay Area.
“Sacramento usually picks up trends from San Francisco, and San Francisco probably picked it up from New York or somewhere else like that,” he said.
Chara Deloney, who’s been a bartender at Uncle Vito’s in Sacramento for five years, agrees with the hipster theory.
“I feel like working in midtown there are so many hipster types and whiskey is definitely trendy,” Deloney said. “We sell a lot of beer, but as far as cocktails and shots, Jameson has always been the most popular seller since I’ve been here.
“Mostly shots, but Jameson mixed with ginger ale or Coke has been really popular,” She added.
One possible factor in its popularity is whiskey is a spirit that is able to mix well with a variety of options. Juices and other mixers compliment the flavor of the alcohol and don’t mask it as they do with vodka.
Flavored vodka, a trend a decade ago, has managed to find a permanent home in many bars, just as flavored whiskey hopes to do. It is currently trending with a variety of flavors such as cinnamon, maple syrup and honey.
“Fireball (cinnamon) is really popular,” Tolen said. “It’s easy to drink and women love it.”
In addition to popular American brands made in Kentucky and Tennessee, like Maker’s Mark and Jack Daniels, imports such as Jameson Irish Whiskey and Canadian whisky Crown Royal, are among Uncle Vito’s and The Zebra Club’s best sellers.
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