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How Restaurants Can Win (and Keep) Customers with the New Cocktail Culture

How Restaurants Can Win (and Keep) Customers with the New Cocktail Culture

The pandemic is long gone and the on-premise industry is back, with consumer expectations higher than ever. They crave a memorable experience, and that includes exceptional cocktails. The 2023 Cheers On-Premise BARometer handbook explores the data behind these trends, and how restaurants can better cater to this discerning clientele.

"The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns delivered a huge blow to the on-premise industry," says Marina Velez, Research Director of the Beverage Information Group. "Even now, the industry is still recovering and continuing to adapt to consumers' rapidly changing tastes. There's a lot of work to be done to ensure on-premise businesses can meet these evolving needs." Some key findings and highlights from the most recent BARometer handbook include:

A Shift in Cocktail Preferences:

  • Consumers are now more familiar with making cocktails at home, leading them to expect higher quality and unique creations from restaurants and bars.
  • Brightly colored cocktails are making a comeback, with ingredients like Midori Green, Curaçao Blue, Aperol, and Ube becoming more popular.
  • The demand for "Instagrammable" drinks is high, with people willing to pay more for visually appealing cocktails.

The Importance of Menus and Marketing:

  • While QR code menus gained traction during the pandemic, most guests still prefer printed menus for drinks and tend to spend more when one is available.
  • Proper menu design and descriptions can significantly impact purchase decisions, with strategically placed cocktails experiencing a 50% increase in purchase intent.
  • Many consumers research restaurant menus online or on social media before dining in, highlighting the importance of a strong digital presence.

The Rise of Low-/No-ABV and Smaller Portion Options:

  • The demand for non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beverages is growing, with mocktails experiencing a 59% increase in searches on Yelp in 2023.
  • Restaurants are offering creative mocktails and "free-spirited" versions of classic cocktails to cater to this growing segment.
  • Mini cocktails, ranging from 1.5 to 2 ounces, are gaining popularity as a way for guests to try multiple drinks or avoid overindulging.

Food Pairing and Events:

  • Consumers are interested in food pairing experiences, with over 70% expressing interest in special menus featuring food and cocktail pairings.
  • This trend highlights the importance of collaboration between the kitchen and bar teams to create a cohesive dining experience.

Overall, the on-premise cocktail scene continues to evolve to meet the demands of a more informed and knowledgeable clientele. According to the 2023 Cheers On-Premise BARometer Handbook, restaurants and bars can attract and retain customers in this competitive market by focusing on high-quality ingredients, unique creations, and offering an engaging presentation. For more in-depth insights and recommendations, you can order your copy of the 2023 Cheer On-Premise BARometer Handbook here.

About the 2023 Cheers BARometer On-Premise Handbook

The Beverage Information Group’s 2023 Cheers BARometer On-Premise Handbook is a comprehensive source of information on U.S. on-premise trends in the spirits, wine, and beer categories. 

Order this publication here or by contacting Sherai Falcon at or 763-383-4400 ext. 4423.

about the author

Marina Velez

Research Director, EPG Specialty Information

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