This is the year of multiple personalities.
The pressure is on like never before for bars and restaurants to pull out all the stops, think outside the box and stand out from the crowd. From top to bottom, everyone in the hospitality world will need to get inventive and identify coping mechanisms to keep the sanity—while still being profitable—in the coming year.
Why? Guests today are seeking more multifaceted unique experiences, and sometimes those are conflicting. For instance, it’s not unlikely for a consumer to want a vegetable-centric meal on a Monday and then enjoy an over-the-top decadent brunch later in the week. The same goes with beverages.
That means operators will have to flex their creative muscles even more than in years past to satisfy many audiences. This explains our 2016 trend report’s theme of taking on “multiple personalities” to please multiple types of people at multiple times.
We developed our annual preview of the hot trends and predictions for the restaurant and hotel industries based on industry observations, bicoastal and international travel, discussions with market leaders, meetings with hotel and restaurant clients, trade conferences and media interactions. We also spent thousands of hours conducting research in hotels and restaurants around the country.
Here’s a look at The Year of Multiple Personalities with some of the on-premise beverage trends for 2016.
1. Mocktails Are No Joke
Mocktail offerings are popping up all over U.S. food cities from San Francisco to New York. They target consumers watching their diets, designated drivers, pregnant women and even “foodie” children.
Some chefs have experimented with pairing an entire meal with mocktails. This gives them a unique opportunity to blend ingredients that complement the food without the overpowering strength of alcohol–or the cost.
One example is Vincenzo Marianella’s new restaurant Love & Salt in Manhattan Beach, CA, which offers three different mocktails made from ingredients such as sage, almond syrup, jalapeno and seedless white grapes.
Atera Restaurant in New York launched a temperance pairing menu this past May, creating mocktails inspired by classic cocktails. The Cote de Beet mocktail, for one, combines black currants and beets that have been aged in hopes of matching the taste of the rich red wine.
2. Watch out For Kombucha
Restaurants and bars across the country are getting creative with kombucha juice. They’re incorporating the trendy fermented tea beverage into cocktails to create more botanical and fruitful alcoholic beverages and developing new twists, such as the Kombucharita.
Breweries are even getting in on the concept too, working alongside popular kombucha drink companies to introduce new beer blends to their consumers.
Crooked Stave in Denver always has at least one kombucha on tap. The house speciality is cranberry-lavender, which is blended with one of the brewery’s saison beers. Another option is mango kombucha on draft mixed with its Vieille Saison.
Guests at 83 Degrees in San Diego can choose straight-up kombucha or have it mixed into one of three cocktails. General manager Nick Wheeler incorporates Living Tea ginger kombucha into his take on a Moscow Mule, and The BU lavender kombucha into the restaurant’s Kombucha Breeze cocktail.
3. Hard Soda is Just Beginning
Bubbles mania expands from Champagne and sparkling wine to fizzy water and fancy, house-made sodas. Restaurants and breweries have embraced this new preference by introducing their own house-made sodas, while producers are creating their own alcoholic and non-alcoholic brews by infusing them with ginger and other botanical flavors.
For instance, the LeCroix sparkling water brand incudes pamplemousse, peach-pear and coconut flavors, while Dry Sparkling has lemongrass- and cucumber-flavored waters. An influx of craft ginger beer producers are popping up as well, including Matsos Broome Brewery and Rachel’s Ginger Brew out of the Pacific Northwest.
And while the original “alcopop” Zima may have been discontinued in 2008, products such as Not Your Father’s Root Beer from Small Town Brewery in Wisconsin, and the Orange or Ginger flavors from Henry’s Hard Soda are on the rise.