What Bar Culture Looks Like In 2022: A Covid-Inspired Perspective

Informational

Bar counter filled with bar tools and liquor shelves

Like many industries across the country, bar owners struggled to keep their businesses afloat due to enforced closure. However, thankfully, things are heading back to normal. As the doors reopen, people flock to their favorite watering holes to get a drink and socialize with friends.

Even reporters across the country see the interest of people as significant. Fortune Magazine is calling it a revival of the 'Roaring 20s' when people returned to the cities to enjoy themselves after the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918. 

This blog post will explore some scenarios for bar culture in the coming years. Will bars become more isolated and intimate or become more social and interactive? Whatever the future may be, Covid-19 will have a profound impact on the bar industry worldwide.

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A Digital Experience to Continue

Cocktail app

Over the past few years, we've all become accustomed to ordering online, but that experience was somewhat brought to the bars during the pandemic as restrictions eased. 

As establishments reopened, some opted to use online menus and table ordering with items delivered by the staff to help with social distancing and instill customer confidence. However, several bars have taken the concept a little further and elected to develop their own apps, allowing people to order directly without needing menus with their QR codes left all over the tables.

This process saves extra margin on these orders, and at the same time, it collects data on the clientele, tracking purchasing trends and helping shape marketing or promotional plans for the future.

Remember that we live in an ever-connected world, and there's no doubt that digital is part of the industry, even more so now than previously. So for any successful bar, this direction must be considered now and in the future.

Attitudes to Drinking

Man and women clinking glasses at a bar

Since the turn of the millennium, alcohol consumption has risen steadily in the US, with access to drinks becoming more widely available. 

It was noted by Edward Slingerland, a University of British Columbia professor, who commented that "alcohol really is this very useful cultural tool." While that hasn't changed as the bars around the country are once again packed, what is different is that the people going there are older. 

Forbes reported a boom in those over the age of 34 heading into bars. The report goes on to say that younger people are more likely to stay away as they see the return to crowded places such as bars and nightclubs as 'risky behaviors.'

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Smoke-Free Zones

No smoking sign

The smoking areas that were once commonplace at bars around the country are now very few and far between. Even the use of other options like vaping is also prohibited in those places and designated smoke-free bars.

Nicotine patches are gaining popularity as an alternative to smoking. Prilla explains pouches are tobacco-free and sit under your lip, delivering nicotine directly. There are no smoking breaks so you can enjoy the bar culture all night without excursions. You can appreciate the new tastes, proving to be popular in 2022.

Drinks Being Sampled

Grape Rosemary cocktail

Heading into 2022, industry experts are commenting that the traditional beers found in buckets are less important. People prefer to try new options, and they're certainly embracing bold flavors, and the same goes for cocktails

Arguably it makes sense in the wake of the pandemic, which has affected so many people's ability to taste and smell. Those who like cocktails love earthier and herbal flavors, with many drinks containing things you'd find in your spice cabinet at home. Options like the Grape Rosemary & Gin Crush are popular with those bar-goers.

Beverage makers recognize this desire for strong tastes, as more people want instantly recognizable profiles. In other drinks, the trend for strong flavor continues, with peach whiskey and peanut butter whiskey becoming the newest two tastes. The same goes for vodka, as strong fruity notes like pineapple are prevalent.

The success of hard seltzers is also expected to continue. With just 100 calories, low sugar, and high fruit flavors, it's perfectly placed to go from strength to strength this year.

The Future of Labor

Bartender preparing a drink and talking to a customer

Apart from the customers, things have changed regarding the people working in bars, which have struggled to retain or find returning staff left without work in the pandemic. 

So to make it both an attractive and long-term prospect for those looking for career growth opportunities, many bars are adopting more flexible working models with people cross-training into many roles.

Therefore, expect bars to take on more staff accustomed to doing various tasks as they look to develop a new culture, both for the roles and fostering positive company cultures.

Bottom Line

There's no doubt that even though we're now seeing packed bars around the country, it's different from what we were used to. As the industry heads back towards normality, it is clear that people appreciate a return to a simpler time after a period that has proved to be so challenging. 

It's hard to say exactly what bar culture will look like in the coming years. Covid has had such a widespread and devastating impact that it's difficult to predict anything with certainty. However, we can look at some of the trends that have emerged during the pandemic and use them to make educated guesses about the future of bar culture.

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