OPINION: We love a cheeky bevvy here in Aotearoa, but upon what have we been supping in the 2010s? These are 10 libations that captured the mood of the decade.
Obvs the refreshing clear liquid held within coconuts has been drunk by people in places where coconut palms grow since forever, but the 21st century saw it being put into TetraPaks, cans and bottles and marketed to the west as a health drink. It really took off in the 2010s, with celebrity endorsements and dubious marketing claims galore. New Zealand was as smitten as the rest of the world, adopting coconut water as a hangover cure to rival Coke and a pie, and various homegrown brands launched. It's still going strong – despite the fact it tastes like… well, just email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask him for his thoughts.
Lewis Road Creamery chocolate milk
A drink so damn definitive that I could, and in fact did, write 1000 words on it. Don't worry, we'll keep this to the TL;DR – a small dairy company released a chocolate milk collab with Whittaker's and people went absolutely batshit crazy for it. There were queues. There were thefts. There were counterfeits. There was nail art. It was a wonderful time.
OK, let's get this out of the way first up: the piefee is available only at a small bakery on Auckland's Karangahape Rd. But trust me, it defined the decade, for the piefee (it's a pie shell filled with a flat white) is symbolic of something deeper. It's the vibe of the thing, your honour. Initially launched in pastry-shell form by Tasteful Bakehouse in February 2017, it's been refined over the years but is still going strong today. Can we say the same about the avolatte, which those sickos across the ditch came up with around the same time? Let's hope not.
In a manner that calls to mind the squishy, rubbery, slimy hell-blob from whence it is born, kombucha slithered its way into our lives big time this decade. The gut-friendly fermented tea beverage has been around for centuries but became increasingly de rigueur in recent years, its rise in the west mirroring that of other fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir and sourdough. It's swiftly gone from hippy tipple to supermarket staple, and is now so mainstream that last year Alex Casey was gifted one by a devoted fan of The Real Pod. "It stank and I hated how it had tendrils like a jellyfish," she said. What a time to be alive.
Ah, Lindauer – the people's fizz. A cheeky bott of Lindy Lohan has been synonymous with good times here in Aotearoa for as long as I can remember, which, let's be honest, is about 10 years on account of my brain having been addled by too much internet use. It pains me that a snobbery persists around Lindauer, but I guess it's human nature to suspect something so damn affordable is not very good. But Lindy, unlike many cheap bubblies (which are basically SodaStreamed), is made following the méthode traditionnelle, meaning it gets its fizz through a secondary fermentation in the bottle. The OG Brut Cuvée is regularly awarded five stars in the country's top wine tastings, as is the slightly pricier Special Reserve. It's a national treasure, as Dish aptly put it in 2017, and is so damn iconic that our nation's "first bloke" appeared in a Lindauer ad in 2012. What a drop, what a decade.
Yes, of course craft beer existed before the 2010s, but by god has it hit the mainstream this decade. I planned to select a specific beer for this list, but a) it was too damn hard to choose a single definitive brew and b) the mammoth, murky moniker of "craft beer" sums it up quite nicely, really. Twas a wild 10 years, to be sure, encompassing everything from the palate-blasting hoppy 8 percenters that dominated early in the decade to the subtle complexities of wild-fermented and barrel-aged brews that continue their ascent; from the boundary-pushing, talented brewers to the bandwagon-jumpers who should've stuck to drinking the stuff; from the trend-adopting big beer companies accused of "craftwashing" to the medium-sized breweries who have sold but not sold out. While the bearded hipster stereotype persists, in reality everyone from teenage girls to my 70-year-old dad are eschewing green bottles for something a little craftier. Long may it continue.
New Zealanders do not like it when things they love change, and who can blame them? We need some consistency in our sad little lives, dammit. Let us not mention Cadbury's various betrayals, for today we are talking about Milo, everyone's favourite malty-choco drink/ice cream topping/powder to eat by the spoonful when Mum's not looking. In 2015, Nestlé, Milo's parent company, changed the recipe, removing the vanilla and chucking in some vitamins or something, and the backlash was swift and fierce. Nestle persisted with the new recipe for four long years before finally coming to its senses and switching back in May this year. The people rejoiced.
New-wave, old-school coffee
When I was a barista four score and seven years ago, there was one kind of coffee and one kind only, and that was espresso-based. Filter was something on American TV shows at which we scoffed. Oh how times have changed. These days, everything's lo-fi. It's all about the soft brew, bro. Pour-over. Batch brew. Siphon. Chemex. V60. Aeropress. Lightly roasted fruity single-origin beans, innit. Precise measurements and aproned baristas pouring water out of those nifty kettles with long skinny spouts. A subtle yet complex flavour experience. Add milk and sugar at your peril. This is soft brew, friends, and it's got 2010s written all over it.
John Key's wine
Remember ponytail-gate? The year was 2015, and John Key had been prime minister for approximately ever. Kim Dotcom was but a distant memory, Richie and the boys were all set to bring home the World Cup and JK's beloved flag referendum was locked in place for later in the year. It was a good time to be John Key until, in April, a waitress from his favourite cafe, Rosie in Parnell, revealed that the Prime Minister had pulled her ponytail multiple times. He brushed it off as "a bit of banter", but upon realising his wrongdoing gave the woman a couple of bottles of his personalised JK 2012 vintage pinot noir. "Wine bros", as Claire Adamson wrote in this review of JK pinot from the 2010 vintage, bloody love Central Otago pinot – the bigger, brasher and fruitier the better – and there is no bigger wine bro than John Key. One could say it was the decade of wine bros (see also Marc Weldon and Sam Neill).
Cast your minds back to May of this year, when there was but one word on everyone's lips: "Slushies." Or, more aptly, "Slusssshiiiiiies!" The context? National Party leader Simon Bridges was angry that the Ministry of Corrections spent a million bucks on slushy machines to keep prison guards, who wear heavy stab-proof vests, cool during a heat wave. Mad Chapman analysed every frame of the parliamentary scene here, and I analysed everything there is to know about slushies here. We got two slushy machines for the office for a week. For a brief moment there, slushies really dominated the mood of the nation, or at least the mood of The Spinoff. Iconic.
Alice Neville is The Spinoff's Food editor.