Minneapolis, Minn., (January 9, 2023) — Distilled spirits came roaring back in the on-premise sector in 2021, recovering from a 39.0% decrease in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Beverage Information Group’s 2022 Cheers BARometer On-Premise Handbook. The spirits category enjoyed a 67.6% increase in 2021 and surpassed 2019 volume consumption levels. Spirits segments leading the gains on-premise include Tequila, American Whiskey, Cognac and Cordials & Liqueurs, largely thanks to their heritage themes, authenticity, high-end quality value, innovation and variety.
“A driver of the on-premise business was the continuation of consumers’ interest in high-end and super-premium products across the spirits segments, particularly by Millennials,” says Marina Velez, Research Director of the Beverage Information Group. The premiumization trend continued to evolve in 2021 as more guests sought higher-quality products within on-premise venues, she adds.
“Tequila continues to experience rapid growth, thanks to a premiumization trend that has consumers seeing the spirit as a top-shelf sipper or craft cocktail ingredient. Although consumers five years ago were more interested in añejo expressions, there has been a shift more towards blancos—the first tier of tequila, unaged, before reposado and añejo,” Velez notes. Mezcal is climbing in popularity both at retail and the on-premise where many consumers are first introduced to this spirit.
Beer continues to be the alcoholic beverage that U.S. drinkers say they drink most often (34%), according to a 2021 Gallup Consumption Habits survey. However, 30% of drinkers now say they drink spirits most often, which is a 3% increase versus 2020 as liquor is fast approaching a tie with wine for second place (31%).
The beer industry continues to fight intense competition from the spirits and wine categories for share of consumers’ drinking occasions. Any growth in the on-premise beer industry can be primarily attributed to positive momentum within the flavored malt beverages (FMBs), imports and craft categories, as all the other beer segments posted losses.
As for wine, total consumption for the on-premise in 2021 was on the path to recovery after significant losses posted in 2020 due to the pandemic. Wine increased 60.2% in 2021 in on-premise establishments but remained below 2019 levels. Imported wines are the bight spot, up 70.8% and surpassing 2019 totals to now represent 27.7% of the overall on-premise wine market.
While consumers will likely continue to make cocktails at home as they did during the pandemic, many have a new respect for and fresh interest in mixology. In addition to sampling craft cocktails, guests want to know about the tools, techniques, and ingredients the pros use. A few recent trends identified in the 2022 On-Premise Handbook include low-/no-ABV beverages; vegetable cocktails; nostalgic drinks and flavors such as the Dirty Shirley and Midori Sour; and the tequila-based Ranch Water libation.
About the 2022 Cheers BARometer On-Premise Handbook
The Beverage Information Group’s 2022 Cheers BARometer On-Premise Handbook is the most comprehensive source of information on U.S. on-premise trends. The publication can be purchased at www.bevinfostore.com.