You know that advertising slogan, “What can brown do for you?”
Judging by Idaho alcohol consumption, the answer is: 1) Sweet talk your wallet; 2) Make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Idahoans are buying higher-end liquor than they did a year ago, according to the Idaho State Liquor Division. The price of the average bottle of booze purchased in fiscal year 2014 was $15.37. It grew to $15.91 in fiscal year 2015 (which ended June 30).
One of the biggest trends state- and nationwide is the popularity of brown liquors — bourbon, whiskey, rum — which often are spendier. Vodka sales, though strong, have softened, says Tony Faraca, the state liquor division’s chief deputy director.
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“We’re definitely seeing a trend to more and more brown spirits,” agrees Kevin Settles, owner of Bardenay restaurant and distillery in Boise, Eagle and Coeur d’Alene. “You have a lot of people now who are coming in and calling for A.H. Hirsch; pretty much any of those top-shelf bourbons and whiskeys are getting called for.”
Aged bourbons are major sellers. So are flavored whiskeys, a horrifying development for anyone with taste buds. Incidentally, Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey has displaced Jagermeister as the shot of choice.
One of the hottest spots in Downtown Boise is Whiskey Bar. Mixology is the rage at other nearby nightspots ranging from the Modern Bar to newcomer the Amsterdam Lounge.
The Idaho State Liquor Division’s annual bar-sales report hit the streets last week. It lists the amount of money spent and number of bottles purchased for every liquor-license holder. Check it out online with this column.
Barbacoa and its mega-popular happy hour topped the list of Treasure Valley bars for the fourth year in a row. Among other top finishers, it’s worth noting that Fatty’s Bar and Twig’s Bistro and Martini Bar experienced major growth.
TOP 10 TREASURE VALLEY BARS
1. Barbacoa: $309,126; 14,226 bottles
2. China Blue/Dirty Little Roddy’s: $222,962; 11,797
3. Whiskey Bar/Silly Birch: $208,931; 9,813
4. Fatty’s Bar: $192,140; 11,898
5. Bardenay (Boise): $178,416; 16,673
6. Bittercreek Alehouse/Red Feather Lounge: $173,232; 8,918
7. The Matador: $169,951; 9,218
8. Twigs Bistro: $164,372; 9,483
9. Hannah’s: $164,030; 10,500
10. Reef/Brickyard: $142,892; 7,860
One last bit of watercooler fodder: The overall top-selling liquor product in the state by volume sold — at bars, at retail, the entire enchilada — is Black Velvet whiskey. (I’m actually surprised there isn’t an enchilada-flavored whiskey yet.)
Behind Black Velvet? Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey at No. 2 and regular Smirnoff Vodka at No. 3.
Now excuse me while I go crack a beer, whose marketshare increasingly is being stolen by liquor.
CONCERT IN THE ALLEY
One of my favorite concerts of 2014 was the Eighth & Main building’s grand opening.
Sorry, Goo Goo Dolls, it wasn’t the music. I just really enjoyed the atmosphere. Sometimes there’s nothing better than an outdoor concert Downtown.
So it’s easy to get excited about Knitting Factory’s new outdoor venue, The Parallel. It’s basically a fancy name for the alley that the Knit shares with fellow BoDo businesses Liquid, Solid Grill & Bar, Ha’Penny Bridge Irish Pub, Happy Fish and Gone Rogue.
“If it works, it’ll be a great thing,” says Liquid and Solid co-owner Jeremy Aevermann, who stands to have his patios packed with fans seeking a nice view of The Parallel stage, which will be near Myrtle Street. “Maybe we can do it three or four times a year.”
That’s the plan, according to Knitting Factory President Mark Dinerstein. Stone will be the only concert at The Parallel in 2015, but the plan is to present additional shows in 2016. There’s also the possibility of similar “pop-up” gigs at other outdoor locations in Boise.
“We love nothing more than to shake it up, bring new music to nontraditional spaces and provide a fun environment for Boise residents to enjoy music,” Dinerstein says.
Gotta like how that sounds. While we’re on the subject, what other Boise spots might be cool for concerts?
Scene Editor Michael Deeds’ column runs Fridays in Scene and alternating Sundays in Explore. He co-hosts “The Other Studio” at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.