Beer and wine are facing stiff competition from their higher-ABV bedfellow, spirits. Of the big alcohol categories, spirits are the only one experiencing volume growth at restaurants and bars, according to new research from Technomic and the Beverage Marketing Corp.’s 2016 On-Premise Intelligence Report. The category is projected to increase its volume by 0.5% in 2016.
Young consumers purchase alcohol away from home more often than older consumers in general, but this is especially true for spirits. Two-thirds of consumers between the ages of 21 and 34 ordered a spirit away from home in the past 30 days, compared to about half of consumers aged 35 and older. Here are the three spirits that are benefiting the most from consumers—particularly young consumers—at the bar, per the report.
1. Vodka's comeback
After three years of decline, the largest on-premise spirits category is making gains again. Vodka mixed drinks are the most frequently ordered spirits-based drinks away from home, and they are more popular among 21- to 34-year-olds than older consumers. In addition, straight vodka consumption has grown since 2014. Technomic’s MenuMonitor data shows that Moscow Mules are the fastest-growing cocktail on menus, likely bolstering vodka orders.
2. Whiskey seller
Consumers report that they’re drinking American straight, Scotch and Irish whiskey more often now than two years ago in restaurants and bars, and volume data reflects this trend. Whiskey is outpacing non-whiskey spirits growth on-premise. Similar to vodka, more younger than older consumers regularly order American and flavored whiskey. Classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned are gaining ground on drink menus shows MenuMonitor data, and operators are even putting new spins on Whiskey Sours.
3. Tequila sippin’
Tequila is the second most commonly ordered spirit for mixed drinks after vodka, and MenuMonitor data shows that operators are increasingly introducing margaritas to their drink menus. Additionally, consumption of straight tequila has grown since 2014. The rise of straight tequila consumption aligns with the proliferation of tequila-focused restaurant concepts in the Future 50, such as Bartaco, The Matador and Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar.