For mixologists, the fusion of spirits and fresh-food ingredients is a hot trend.For mixologists, the fusion of spirits and fresh-food ingredients is a hot trend. Top mixologists from different cities recently told Forbes that artisanal drinks this spring will be flavored by locally grown strawberry-rhubarb, mint, maple and lemon, plus herbs rosemary and thyme, and spices such as saffron. ? F3 urges supermarkets to watch these distinctive flavor trends (think local produce) for cross-merchandising ideas throughout the year. According to Nielsen data, retail spirits sales are up this past year and that means people are not just buying through the holidays. For example, shoppers might occasionally go for a cocktail-hour-at-home theme. A subscription service named New York Mouth certainly thinks they will. Their monthly box (3 months for $195 up to 12 months for $780) includes spreads, pickles, nuts, crackers, mustard, charcuterie, cheese, salsa, popcorn and cocktail mix. High style, it suggests a display concept for retailers to assemble complementary products in the right locations. According to Nielsen data, spirits sold robustly across the U.S. in the 52 weeks ending January 5, 2013. Among the most notable dollar-sales trends: - Total distilled spirits rose 4.0% to $10.52 billion - Despite a stubbornly slow economy, the value-price segment fared the worst as drinkers opted for quality. The value segment dipped 1.8% to $1.66 billion. By drink type, vodka retained its lead with 5.8% growth to $3.12 billion, while whiskey grew 6.9% to $3.01 billion.