Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits has unveiled the results of its 2022 Liquid Insights Tour, a coast-to-coast educational initiative designed to explore and identify the latest cocktail and wine trends.
The tour kicked off in Houston in February and included stops in Kansas City, New York, Las Vegas, Chicago and Los Angeles. Over the course of 111 days, Brian Masilionis, Director of Onsite Business Strategy and National Accounts for Southern Glazer’s, led a team of cutting-edge mixologists to taste more than 400 drinks at 83 restaurants, bars and hotels, compiling their insights . to learn about emerging cocktail and wine trends in the United States
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Unusual combinations: Bartenders were mixing seldom-used spirits together to create interesting new cocktail flavor profiles such as scotch and corn liquor, rum and cognac, and gin and mezcal.
Beyond Basic Balancers: The team found many cocktails made using a variety of innovative methods or modifiers to balance the drink or add layers of flavor. These included the use of acids; sugars and syrups; salt; herbs and spices; coffee and tea; and the use of fats other than animal fats. The addition of ice or heat, as with stamped ice or smoked ice, was also common.
Caffeinated return: Once the darling of the ’90s bar scene, the Espresso Martini took center stage as the tour’s standout cocktail. Across the country, mixologists are breathing new life into this classic, incorporating a variety of creative ingredients such as amaro and coffee liqueurs or brandy with espresso or cold brew.
Sophisticated and mindless: Non-alcoholic offerings at the country’s top bars, restaurants and hotels are now just as high, delicious and expensive as their alcoholic counterparts, with similar ingredients, flavors and presentations, without the alcohol.
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The sparkling bursts: Champagne and sparkling wines continue to gain popularity on beverage menus. Throughout the tour, more sparkling options were available by the glass and had a more prominent presence on top wine lists. Additionally, bartenders mix sparkling wine of all styles and prices into their cocktails to add effervescence, crispness, or sweetness to the experience.
Chill Out Wines: Chilled selections of red and sweet wines have appeared on menus across the United States. Orange wines also appeared more frequently than ever before, often featured on menus in a combined rosé and orange section.
Tempting trial with half bottles by the glass and premium: Organized by the glass (BTG) options are becoming more diverse and more balanced between domestic and international offerings than in the past. There is also a growing trend for wines being priced with good value in BTG or by the bottle formats to drive more orders and not just high margins.
Better information on execution and presentation
Batch processing for speed and service: Top bartenders continue to innovate when it comes to dosing their cocktails, including both partial (dosing only non-perishable items) and full, driven by the need for speed and improved quality and consistency of cocktail preparation, allowing more time to connect with guests.
Entertainment experience improvements: Add “flair” to the cocktail experience with the use of vapors, “air”, smoke or torch; the use of unique glassware; or the return of common drinks to share; all create memorable moments for consumers.
Significant innovations in the menus: Restaurants and bars are evolving their menus beyond being a functional tool to enhance the consumer experience. The team saw great stories, unique categorizations, and humorous names paired with detailed beverage descriptions. QR codes, which have grown in popularity due to COVID-19, are now being used to deliver wider offers and information – from account-specific Spotify playlists to ever-changing allotted spirits offers, all of which can be easily updated without the need to reprint menus.
Drawing on industry data and internal information from Southern Glazer, Masilionis and his team identified several key factors influencing these trends. These include an aging population, the demographic and ethnic diversification of the United States, a preference for health and wellness among consumers, and the ongoing ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic that are still affecting the hospitality industry.
“This unique insight can be integrated into any on-premises business to ensure greater success through strategic and innovative beverage programs,” Masilionis said. “Identifying relevant information for your business and how to incorporate it using creative themes, highlighting seasonal ingredients, and tailoring cocktail and wine offerings to your customer demographics are all solid strategies. We continue to see the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic in this segment of the industry, in terms of the effects on the workforce and on consumers returning for the onsite experience. We are excited to offer this insight to help accelerate recovery from the pandemic and make this segment stronger and more consumer-focused than ever. »
A new research report from me&u has revealed new insights into consumer expectations across demographics for the hospitality venues of the future. In partnership with YouGov, Red Havas and Havas Labs, this report provides deep insight into changes from the guest perspective and explores new predictions that hospitality industry operators will adopt over the next decade.
Will soft drinks be the new hot drink on tap?
Many Americans may be redefining their relationship with alcohol, rethinking their view of bars and hospitality venues. 33% of customers expect bars and restaurants to offer a good range of non-alcoholic beverages, and more than a third (35%) of Americans say they are happy to visit bars or restaurants that are completely non-alcoholic, a similar number expecting all bars to offer a good range of soft drinks (33%).
Guests will seek the same care and attention from staff as before; so that staff have a level of knowledge, a recommendation and a point of view on the beer, wine or mocktail they are drinking.
At the height of the pandemic, when many couldn’t leave their homes, travelers learned how to create and even perfect their favorite cocktails. As travel continues to intensify, customers seek a more memorable and elevated experience when visiting a bar, and bartenders expect more to deliver quality craftsmanship and create drinks for customers. that they cannot reproduce at home.
According to Richard Garcia, Senior Vice President of Dining at Remington Hotels, some of the cocktail experiences travelers can expect to see at hotels now increasingly include:
Nostalgic creations: Many bars pay homage to the drinks that patrons once enjoyed as children. Now, instead of Capri Sun, travelers enjoy cocktails in sachets, as well as alcohol-infused ice pops and alcoholic ice creams.
Seasonal drinks: Bars are increasingly leaning towards specialty drinks suitable for each season. In the summer, guests can try fruity watermelon cocktails, while in the fall, seasonal guests can order barbecue and bourbon drinks.
Low alcohol cocktails: These beverages cater to the feel-good, non-alcoholic traveler while providing an exciting experience. It used to be that if a guest wanted a mocktail, they had to order a juice or soda, but now hotels are offering guests beautifully concocted mocktails.