For the longest time, whenever people were deciding about where they would go to dinner, one thing they rarely thought about was what they were going to or could be drinking. That typically happens because the assumption about many Appleton, Wisconsin restaurants is that the drinking choices will pretty much be the same. Most people are okay with that because they are prone to drinking the same thing most of the time. Occasionally some people might switch up if they have are having something specific - say switch from beer to wine if out for an Italian meal - but by and large, the thought process of "Honey, where should we go to dinner tonight?" rarely included anything about the liquid refreshment.
That has started to change over the last several years as bartenders and mixologists have reintroduced the concept of fresh ingredients and self-expression through cocktails. While many of the heavy handed classic cocktail-centric bars are going to be found in major cities, smaller restaurants across the country are joining in with this revolution as well, not only because it presents itself as an added attractive revenue stream, but also because in some situations, it can be seen as an extension of the culinary program, with drinks that complement the food.
One of the most notable styles of dining that is seeing this expansion is Latin fusion restaurants. Their emphasis on fresh ingredients and traditional flavors lend themselves perfectly to drinking sangria and margaritas. People choose to visit these restaurants not only because they like the food but also because they want to experience an authentic representation of the culture. Some of that experience gets lost if, in the middle of a fantastic meal, they are washing it down with a generic beer or soda.
Latin fusion restaurants place a greater emphasis on fresh ingredients than most other casual fine dining restaurants. In order for the chefs to recreate the flavors they grew up with, they focus on using only the freshest products and stay away from foods that have been overly processed or altered. The rise in the cocktail culture can be directly attributed to an emphasis on fresh ingredients, and in this style of restaurants, the kitchen and bar can work together using the same flavors, creating cocktails, sangrias and margaritas that pair with specific items on the menu.
One of the defining characteristics of casual fine dining restaurants is that they feature a bar offering various beers, wines and cocktails. That does not mean that all restaurants are created the same. Thanks to the growth of the cocktail industry and the enjoyment people feel from discovering these new drinks, more people are now starting to ask, "Honey, what should we drink with dinner tonight?"
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has covered the food and beverage industry for more than 20 years. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com