The bar side of the business will be center stage for the next few weeks as consumers look for a spot to cheer their bracket picks in the NCAA playoffs, better known as March Madness. What trends will likely get some topspin as victories are celebrated and disappointments are drowned? Here are four currents that have been identified by Technomic, the research sister of Restaurant Business.
1. Mixed to a tea
Bartenders are taking tea cocktails a step further, embracing such ingredients as matcha, the tea powder, because of the arresting green color it gives a drink. Other ethnic variations showing up on bar menus are spiked chai and drinks made with pu-erh, a fermented, aged tea.
3. Softening in hard ciders?
The buzz over hard ciders may be quieting down. Technomic surveyed its Behind the Bars Insights panel, a group of working bartenders, about sales trends. Thirty percent said beer sales are significantly higher than the volumes of a year ago, while only 14 percent said the same about cider. Indeed, 41 percent of the respondents indicated their cider sales have leveled off.
4. Happy all week long
Weekend happy hours are gaining favor. About half the survey respondents said they now offer some sort of specials between Friday and Sunday. Overall, 55 percent of the respondents had featured a happy hour during the prior 12 months, and 17 percent said the offer of drink deals for a limited time is still their most effective promotion.
Some of the more senior members of the team smile at the junior staff who are excited to uncover an interesting trend in “eatertainment” or the latest single-ingredient concept. We try not to be condescending when we suggest they do some research by looking at past issues of Restaurant Business or old Technomic top chain reports before calling it the next big thing.