This story is part of the GP100, our list of the 100 best new products of the year.
The best food and drink releases of 2022 are a tale of contrasts, simultaneously ushering in a new guard while also showing that the old guard has plenty of life left in it. What does this mean, exactly? Well, for example, we’ve continued to see a rise in non-alcoholic beverages, from booze-free brews and cocktail alternatives to flavored sparkling water that markets itself like a beer.
At the same time, the spirits standbys haven’t exactly gone quietly into that good night, with a science experiment-like Scotch and a game-changing new bourbon proving there’s still plenty of innovation left in the centuries-old business. And you’ve got vegan filet mignon breaking new ground while wild boar sausage finds its own path to sustainability. In other words, this year’s food and drinks truly had something for everyone.
Hidden Barn Whiskey
Why It’s Notable: Hidden Barn is a small team with big talent and even bigger dreams. They’re shaking up the industry with new, bold flavors and unlikely partnerships.
The Big Picture: It’s difficult to imagine a paradigm shift in an industry like bourbon, which prides itself on unchanged recipes and tradition. But when Jackie Zykan made headlines earlier this year for stepping away from the industry’s “dream job,” the whiff of change was in the air. Zykan, the former Old Forester master taster, joined a little-known team of three to create something different in a sea of same-ish-tasting brown liquor.
Typically, any new whiskey label, by virtue of having no aged whiskey already, must buy liquid from a large distillery like MGP to blend and bottle under their own name. Launching with good original bourbon, which legally must be aged for 2 years (and to be worth sharing, another 2-plus years after that) was basically impossible — until Hidden Barn came along.
Just this summer, Hidden Barn bottled its first batch from mature bourbon distilled by Royce Neeley, the brand’s master distiller. Neeley, an 11th-generation whiskey man, creates some of the most flavorful bourbon in Kentucky. Sweet, not sour mash. A long five days of fermentation in cypress tanks via hand-harvested, wild yeast. Rich, textured flavors cut meticulously from old-school pot stills. His whiskey is a palette of vibrant paints, and Zykan with her inimitable blend style is the brush.
Now she’s painting something unique, something that “expands outside of the box that we think bourbon’s supposed to taste like,” she tells us.
While Neeley’s bourbon makes up Hidden Barn’s first series — with each new batch promising a whole new taste — the upstart outfit is scouting talent from all over America for future series. Taking a page from sneakers, craft beer and streetwear, Hidden Barn will be collaborating with other distilleries to bottle bourbon that’s greater than the sum of its parts… and to give American whiskey something new to talk about.
Availability: In stores in KY and CO and online in 20+ states
Current Distilling Partner: Neeley Family Distillery
Current Offerings: Small Batch, Single Barrel, Limited Edition
Force of Nature Wild Boar and Beef Link Sausage Lonestar Blend
Why It’s Notable: Drawing its key ingredient from wild-caught invasive wild boar, Force of Nature’s Lonestar Blend is showing you can eat meat and embrace sustainability at the same time.
The Big Picture: Given the ever-increasing abundance of quality vegan meat alternatives (see Juicy Marbles below), it can be hard not to feel guilty when consuming meat in 2022. But Force of Nature is one brand that’s making meat a little easier to swallow — no pun intended. Their Lonestar Blend Wild Boar & Beef Sausage Links blend grass-fed beef with wild-caught wild boar from Texas. These wild hogs are among the most destructive invasive species in the United States, and by using their meat in place of farmed pork, Force of Nature is decreasing their population while simultaneously practicing a more humane approach to meat production. Bonus: it’s delicious.
Free From: Antibiotics, added hormones and added sugar
Package Size: 10 oz.
Caraway Food Storage Set
Why It’s Notable: Caraway has seemingly done the impossible by making food storage exciting. Their set is beautiful, convenient to use and easy to store.
The Big Picture: For many of us, our food storage options consist of a messy cabinet filled with a random collection of decades-old hand-me-down tupperware, black plastic takeout containers and cheap tomato sauce-stained GladWare. Setting out to solve this problem in 2022 was Caraway, which introduced a Food Storage Set that you’ll actually look forward to seeing in your cupboard. Like Caraway’s cookware, the Food Storage Set is available in a range of attractive signature colors and features a non-toxic, non-stick ceramic coating. The glass containers are safe for the oven, microwave, fridge and freezer, and they even come with a nifty organization system to keep your cupboard tidy.
Pieces: 1 large container, 2 medium containers, 2 small containers, 4 “Dot and Dash” containers, 2 container straps and storage system
Material: Non-stick ceramic-coated glass
Colors: Gray, Cream, Perracotta, Navy, Mist and Sage
Athletic Brewing Athletic Lite
Why It’s Notable: Everyone’s favorite non-alcoholic brewery just dropped their lightest beer yet: Athletic Lite. It’s the tastiest sober-ish answer to macro lagers, and we’ve been stocking our fridge, guilt-free.
The Big Picture: Since 2018, Athletic Brewing has been the go-to name in NA beer, with a lineup of 65-ish calorie beer that includes hoppy IPAs, golden ales and witbiers. But it earlier this year the brewery released their lightest beer yet: Athletic Lite. Weighing in at only 25 calories and 5 grams of carbs, this latest release is light, snappy and incredibly refreshing. For those who are sober-ish, training or just want to keep a clear head, Athletic Lite drinks like your favorite light beer and lets you throw back a few without worrying about hangovers, operating heavy machinery or your diet.
Carbs: 5 grams
Fellow Stagg EKG Pro Electric Kettle
Why It’s Notable: Fellow could’ve rested on its laurels with their Stagg EKG kettle, but instead, they made the market’s best electric kettle even better.
The Big Picture: You’re probably familiar with Fellow’s Stagg EKG Electric Kettle. If you follow any trendy Instagram or TikTok accounts or otherwise have your finger on the pulse of interior design, you’ve no doubt seen the sleek gooseneck kettles — almost always in black — sitting on the counter of some influencer’s kitchen. Fellow’s flagship kettle has become both a must-have designer accessory as well as an extremely useful appliance that’s arguably the best gooseneck kettle money can buy.
Considering such a golden goose(neck), no one would really blame Fellow if they left the Stagg EKG alone to continue its once-unthinkable mission of actually making kettles cool. But that’s not what they did. Instead, Fellow figured out ways to improve the bestseller, and the result is the Fellow Stagg EKG Pro. The new iteration of everyone’s favorite kettle looks nearly identical to its predecessor, but it boasts a few smart upgrades. There’s an easier-to-access on/off button, a new seal and slotted vent in the lid to eliminate drips and a suite of smart capabilities that allow you to schedule your brews in advance, set your altitude and more. And with Wi-Fi connectivity that promises future over-the-air updates, the Pro-spec kettle will just get better the longer you own it.
Too often, brands are afraid to mess with success. But there’s nearly always room for improvement — and Fellow’s upgraded Stagg EKG Pro Electric Kettle is proof.
Temperature Range: 104°F-212°F
Colors: Matte Black or Matte White, optional walnut handle
Pre-set Guide Modes: White/Green Tea, AeroPress, French Press, Pour-Over, Herbal/Black Tea
Firestone Walker Hopnosis IPA
Why It’s Notable: Firestone Walker is leading the next wave for IPAs by blending the best of West Coast IPAs with that of the hazy New England-style IPA — and employing a new cryogenically-frozen hop technology.
The Big Picture: The West Coast IPA, what with its bitter, resiny, in-your-face hop profile, was pronounced dead a few years back. What once was America’s favorite craft beer style gave way to the New England-style IPA with its more palatable tropical fruit flavors. Leave it to Firestone Walker’s Matt Bryndilson, after 20 years of IPA research, to merge the West Coast and New England styles in pursuit of the next evolution of IPAs.
Hopnosis is a 6.7% ABV IPA that uses Mosaic Cryo hops as the backbone of the hop profile. These are a new derivative from Yakima Chief Hops that freezes the core of the hop plant (the lulupin) after separating it from the plant matter. The result is a super-concentrated hop pellet that offers the best of both worlds. Within Hopnosis, it brings about a beer that has subtle hints of a resiny West Coast IPA — but before hitting with the expected bitterness, it mellows out into flavorful modern IPA-style bursts of mango, passionfruit and more.
Hopnosis truly is a product of all the learnings Firestone Walker has taken from its Luponic Distortion revolving IPA series, an emphatic statement that West Coast IPAs are in fact alive and well — and tasty as hell.
Hops: Simcoe, Talus, Callista, Mosaic Cryo, Idaho 7, El Dorado, Cashmere, Nelson Sauvin and Riwaka
Char-Broil Cruise 435S Gas Grill
Why It’s Notable: Grillers, ditch your low, medium and high heat dials. Gas grills have entered a new era with the Char-Broil Cruise, which allows for exact temperature control.
The Big Picture: In the war between gas and pellet grills, 2022 will go down as a win in gas grilling history. For years, the low, medium and high heat dials of gas grills (more a measure of heat output than actual grilling temp) seemed like unreliable, rough estimates compared to the oven-like, set it and forget it temperature control of pellet grills. Not anymore.
Instead of multiple knobs, the front panel of Char-Broil’s new Cruise gas grill features only one large dial that sets a stable temperature for the grill’s entire 540 square inches of cooking space. Complimenting this solitary soldier is another newish feature from Char-Broil: under the cast-iron cooking grates and above the burner is the Amplifire, a ridged stainless steel plate that distributes heat evenly, lessening hot and cold spots, and acts as a physical barrier to prevent flare-ups. Mimicking oven cooking, these features combine for a more … forgiving cooking experience.
Put another way, it’s a lot harder to burn your burgers.
Quick caveats: You need somewhere to plug it in, and the lowest temperature is 350°, so BBQ fiends looking to co0k pork shoulder low ‘n’ slow should look elsewhere.
But most weekend grillers will get much more use out of a sensor that shuts off the gas if the flame extinguishes while cooking, a cleaning mode that makes light work of any grease collecting on the Amplifire and a max heat setting that goes all the way to 700° for an incredible sear.
Temperature Range: 350°F – 700°F+
Output: 25,500 BTUs
Grilling Space: 540 square inches
Dansk Købenstyle Wrapped Handle Water Pitcher
Why It’s Notable: This stunning pitcher is the first in a planned series of classic reissues from mid-century kitchen mainstay Dansk that are bringing renewed focus to the brand.
The Big Picture: When Food52 purchased the rights to classic 1950s home goods brand Dansk, one of the first things the new owners set out to do was bring back archival products that had helped entrench Scandinavian design as a crucial part of American modernism in the 20th century. Kicking things off for the reborn Dansk in 2022 was this water pitcher, a slightly-tweaked revival of the 1956 original created by the legendary Jens Quistgaard, Dansk’s original and most influential chief designer. The new pitcher, with its wrapped handle, streamlined shape and bright enameled colors, serves to reestablish Dansk as a brand that every home should have in its kitchen — that is, when it’s not selling out in a hurry.
Designer: Jens Quistgaard
Materials: Enameled carbon steel, polyurethane
Colors: Chili Red, Yellow, Teal or White
St. Agrestis Phony Negroni
Why It’s Notable: The makers of the best premade Negroni we’ve ever sipped shook up the cocktail world again by removing the booze.
The Big Picture: Brooklyn-based St. Agrestis worships the Negroni, or as they refer to it: “the world’s greatest cocktail.” They stock multiple premade, bottled versions — and yes, they’re releasing a Negroni Sbagliato — but it’s their NA version, the Phony Negroni, that was quickly adopted by the growing sober-ish movement upon its release early this year. The conical bottles and mini cans are bursting with the same herb, juniper and citrus formula as their beloved alcoholic version, mimicking the beautiful bitterness and earthy notes of a bartender-made Negroni, with bubbles to impart the bite of the missing spirit.
Size: ~6.75 oz conical bottles or mini cans
Tasting Notes: Juniper, citrus, and floral
Juicy Marbles Whole-Cut Loin
Why It’s Notable: By mimicking whole-cut meat, Juicy Marbles is giving meatless cooks the same versatility they’d have cooking the real deal, with flavors we adore.
The Big Picture: If your only experience with meatless “meat” is the Impossible Burger, you’re missing out. Based in Slovenia, the mad culinary scientists at Juicy Marbles have been perfecting a plant-based imitation of whole-cut muscles, using beet juice, a splash of physics and a dash of IP. And this year, they’re shipping stateside.
We sampled the whole-cut loin, which arrives as a frozen, roughly 1.5-pound slab of “muscle.” Unlike the veggie-based “chicken” nuggets getting freezer burn at the bottom of your ice box, this is the next generation of plant-based meat: unseasoned, whole-slab meat for cooks who want the versatility of meat-based cooking, without the animal.
For testing, we cut the loin into filet medallions that showed off the white, sunflower oil-based marbling that the company name suggests. Crack of pepper. Healthy dose of salt. Into the hot cast iron. The outside crusted nicely while the inside stayed soft and tender. Sound familiar? To experiment, we also fork-shredded the meat to cook “shredded pork” and sizzled thin slices for a “steak sandwich.”
Then we dug in. We were impressed by a noticeable textural difference between the crust, “muscle,” and “marbling,” the latter of which was a convincing take on intramuscular fat. (To be sure, it wasn’t as tender as a juicy, medium-rare steak, but honestly, only steak should be compared to steak.) It was the taste, however, that blew us away. Expecting to say, “this tastes good for not being real,” we instead uttered something along the lines of, “holy shit, how is this not real meat?”
If this is where plant-based protein is heading, consider us vegan-curious.
Animal Products: None
Weight: 1.66lbs per loin
Nutrition: High in protein, low in saturated fat
Ardbeg Fermutation Scotch Whiskey
Why It’s Notable: In 2007, a broken boiler led to the longest fermentation time in Ardbeg’s history, and the bottles from that “mistake” finally became available this year — to rave reviews.
The Big Picture: Flavor in Scotch typically comes from peat, casks and age. Not yeast. Tell that to Bill Lumsden, the creative head distiller of Ardbeg, who, due to boiler troubles back in 2007, decided to open the distilling tanks to the Islay air. After three weeks of fermentation (in contrast to the usual 72 hours), the contents, which now resembled spontaneously fermented beer, was distilled and aged. Flash forward to this past spring’s release, an explosion of flavors — from smoke to citrus to sea air to lemon sherbet? — that boldly imagines what Scotch can taste like when you open your mind… and tanks. The only downside? Good luck getting your hands on some, as the 8,000 bottles sold out instantly.
Age: 13 years
Output: 8,000 bottles total
Liquid Death Sparkling Water Flavors
Why It’s Notable: Love it or hate it, you cannot escape Liquid Death — now available in three thirst-murdering, fruit-oriented varieties.
The Big Picture: The hottest drink of 2022 is a can of water, the kind with bubbles and taste but not any alcohol. But the real triumph of Liquid Death is less about what’s in the can than what’s on it. Yes, the Sparkling Flavors taste good, great even, but the brand’s raw viral magnetism owes more to its attitude-heavy design, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the stylistic trappings of bottom-shelf malt liquor. Add a poetically irreverent and patently false brand name for a killer combination: a beverage worth drinking, wrapped in a joke that’s funny enough to be worth a buck or two.
Flavors: Mango Chainsaw, Berry It Alive, Severed Lime
Liquid per Can: 16.9 ounces
Death per Can: None