As we look back on yet another year like no other, current events and breaking news once again dominated our collective attention. And while what’s happening in the world of drinks is decidedly less hard-hitting, and thankfully so, it seems emerging trends, topical advice, and important investigations captivated VinePair readers this year as well.
From predictions of up-and-coming unicorns to deep dives on the TikTok accounts influencing the drinks space now, and reports on sexual misconduct that upended craft beer, VinePair’s top-read stories of the past year mirrored some of the biggest trends and moments we saw across the industry — both good and bad.
Here are our 10 most popular stories from 2021. We hope you’ll read them if you haven’t already. And as we look ahead to 2022, we hope the stories we publish will continue to inspire curiosity and entertain readers like you who make all the researching, reporting, and tasting worthwhile.
10. The Father-Son TikTok Duo Behind the Viral JohnnyDrinks Brand
Early this year, we explored the many ways that TikTok — the fast-growing, video-based social media platform — is influencing the drinks industry. And while we showcased plenty of confounding trends and exciting new faces, no feature caught readers’ attention more than this profile of JohnnyDrinks. The cocktail-making account, run by father-son duo John Rondi and John Rondi Jr., has continued to rack up fans and “likes” — garnering almost 2 million followers for its humorous, approachable content.
9. How Vodka, America’s Favorite Spirit, Lost Its Luster
Though vodka may be the spirit bartenders love to hate, it’s clear that consumers feel otherwise. With the re-emergence of two vodka-based cocktails, the Cosmopolitan and the Espresso Martini, it’s no wonder this trend piece on vodka’s cultural demise was one of our most read stories of the year. So how did vodka get such a bad rap behind back bars? And could recent trends signify the spirit’s pop culture revival?
8. Good Luck Scoring a Bottle of Crown Royal Peach, 2021’s Most Unlikely Unicorn
A most unexpected unicorn in the drinks world, Crown Royal’s peach-flavored whisky captured the hearts of spirits fans across the U.S. — especially in the South. But how did we get here? And does the Canadian whisky’s popularity signify a greater trend across the beverage industry?
7. Forget Canned Cocktails, the ‘Togroni’ Is the RTD of 2021
With many restaurants and bars still shuttered early in 2021, the emergence of to-go cocktails was a fun and exciting development for drinks lovers. While these have sadly gone by the wayside in most cities, ready-to-drink (RTD) canned cocktails have largely taken their place. But on the internet, a convenient trend dubbed the “Togroni” offered a visually appealing substitute for both. The ultimate to-go Negroni, the Togroni combines airplane nips of Campari, vermouth, and gin — taped together, then poured over ice into any glass you choose. Does it get any more “2021” than this?
6. How Bison Grass Vodka Became a Bartender Favorite — and Banned in the United States
A staple for consumers in Central and Eastern Europe, bison grass vodka — also known as zubrowka — has been banned in the U.S. for decades. Here’s how the illicit spirit has gained immense popularity among bartenders and consumers across America.
5. Unicorns in the Making: Grab These Collectible Spirits While You Still Can
Unicorns, or extremely rare bottles that are nearly impossible to find on the market, used to be just a whiskey thing. But that’s all changing. Now, tequila, rum, and Armagnac lovers are hunting for their own ultra-rare bottles to sip before the next quarantine sets in. Learn which bottles are trending and how to find them.
4. The 25 Most Important IPAs Right Now, Ranked (2021)
It’s no secret that people really love IPAs. The hoppy beer is the most popular craft style in the nation, with new sub-styles constantly emerging. And while the endless stream of new releases is hard to keep track of, we have certain brands to thank for the style’s overall success. From O.G. pioneers to recent standouts, this story reveals the most important IPAs to know about right now.
3. Sweeping Accusations of Sexism, Assault Rock the Craft Beer Industry
In May 2021, brewer Brienne Allan (known on Instagram as @ratmagnet) shared thousands of messages from fellow women in the beer industry accusing prominent brewers of sexual assault. These stories shook the craft beer world to its core — giving some women brewers hope that the public nature of these callouts would create lasting change in the industry going forward. This piece was one of the first to report on Allan’s experience and make public the responses to sexual misconduct allegations of some of the accused brewers.
2. Why the Angostura Bitters Label Is Too Big for the Bottle
The VinePair team is always curious to learn more about our favorite beverages and drinks brands. Happily, it seems our readers are, too. From the histories of popular logos and bottle shapes, to explanations of common cocktail practices, we uncovered plenty of historical drinks accounts this year. But none of these stories caught the eyes of our readers more than the truth behind Angostura bitters’ awkward label. Do you know why it’s too big for the bottle? It’s kind of a funny story…
1. Ask a Wine Pro: What Should I Do With the Cork When My Server Presents It?
As the world shifts around us, so too does bar and restaurant etiquette. That may be why 2021 saw a general increase in curiosity from our readers for advice from the pros. We answered plenty of your burning questions — from the least annoying shot to order to how much to tip on pricey wine. Topping the list was our most read story of the year: what to do with the wine cork when a server or sommelier presents it to you.