The bar and restaurant industry has experienced major shake-ups thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, new beverage ideas, and evolving customer attitudes. If you're a bar owner, it's important to be aware of the latest trends in the industry. By staying ahead of the curve, you'll be able to serve your customers better and stay competitive.
Here are seven emerging trends that bar owners should be aware of as they enter the fourth quarter of the 2022 fiscal year.
Food and alcohol delivery services became more relevant by necessity during the pandemic, but most of the sales came from grocery stores. Bars are now starting to take advantage of the alcohol e-commerce space.
DoorDash and GrubHub now deliver alcohol in legal states, and strictly alcohol-focused apps like Drizly and Saucey have gained popularity. Many states throughout the U.S. have also loosened the legal limits on alcohol delivery, allowing bars and retailers to expand their delivery services without restrictions.
As the fourth quarter begins and the holiday season approaches, your bar could profit significantly from deliveries to parties and events in the upcoming months.
The pandemic gave Americans a wake-up call about their health and wellness habits, leading thousands to drop alcohol for good. All beers and spirits have alcohol-free options, including hard liquors like tequila.
Alcohol consumption tends to increase around the holiday festivities, which means more people will seek nonalcoholic alternatives. Your bar could do well with these drink sales in the fourth quarter and help people stick to their health goals, establishing loyal customers in the process.
Hard seltzers were the first ready-to-drink (RTD) flavored malt beverages to hit the mainstream. They paved the way for other products, including spirit RTDs. Malt-based options still make up 91% of the market’s share, but spirit varieties grew by 53% in 2021.
This trend also owes some of its success to the new health-focused consumers. Spirit RTDs with natural flavors and fewer calories are healthier options than popular mixed drinks like rum and cokes. Some spirit RTDs also have a lower ABV than similarly mixed drinks, helping people drink in moderation.
Wine with organically farmed grapes and whiskey with certified organic wheat, barley, and corn appeal more to consumers with these new green attitudes. Labeling products as “natural and “organic” is also a great way to draw positive attention.
Most people aren’t wine or liquor connoisseurs, so they can’t determine a spirit’s quality from the brand name alone. However, they can deduce that an organic beverage is healthier and more flavorful than a nonorganic one.
Another health-focused drink that’s trending is the cannabis-infused beverage. As the recreational legalization of marijuana continues from state to state, bar owners should plan to get more beers, wines, and spirits infused with CBD or THC. These ingredients completely change the drinking experience and can attract a wider audience of more casual drinkers.
Like alcohol, cannabis consumption also sees a notable increase around the holidays. The upcoming quarter is great for your bar to expand its cannabis product selection.
Apéritifs and Digestifs
Apéritifs and digestifs have also gained popularity in recent years. These drinks aren’t solely meant to intoxicate but to make meals more enjoyable. Apéritifs like gin and vermouth stimulate the consumer’s appetite, while digestifs like wine and brandy help the food comfortably digest.
Bars and restaurants can pair these drinks with complementary menu items, enhancing the dining experience and increasing sales. Going out to eat became almost impossible during the pandemic, so consumers are itching to get back into these places again. Apéritifs and digestifs can set your establishment apart and draw those eager diners in.
American Whiskey Boom
American whiskey is the most recent beneficiary of pop culture, with exports jumping by 15% from 2020 to 2021. Popular TV shows such as “Mad Men,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and “Peaky Blinders” have helped reignite interest in whiskey among casual American drinkers.
The increased cultural emphasis on American whiskey has closely coincided with the rapid expansion of craft distilleries. This growth primarily comes from changing consumer tastes. It’s well established that young drinkers tend to prefer liquor over beer, but now that this demographic is a little older and larger, it has more influence over the country’s alcohol trends.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
Most bar and restaurant trends come and go, but 2022 has been an exception. There’s been a massive shift in consumer attitudes as moderation, health, and sustainability become top priorities.
There are also new product ideas, such as spirit RTDs and cannabis-infused drinks. These changes aren’t going away soon, so stay ahead of the curve and adapt your business to these shifts before competitors catch on.