Although its share of total has slipped a bit in recent years, the Margarita remains the most popular on-premise mixed drink. After the venerable tequila-based cocktail, the Martini, Rum & Coke, Jack Daniel’s & Coke and Mojito round out the top-five most popular drinks in 2012.
How do we know all this? As part of the Cheers OnTrac Bar Managers Study, each year our Beverage Information Group division conducts personal interviews with about 2,500 bartenders/bar managers in 31 key metropolitan markets.
The results provide us with intelligence on distribution, sales, marketing and merchandising trends in the on-premise segment of the beverage alcohol industry. We’ve been doing the study for 13 years; the most recent survey was conducted this past September. (For more on the 2012 Cheers On-Premise BARometer Handbook, visit BevInfoStore.com.)
Getting back to the Margarita, it’s not hard to see why it continues to be the top cocktail in bars and restaurants. The festive classic is a balanced drink with a pleasing sweet/sour taste profile, plus a strong kick. It also allows for numerous flavor variations and makes a great frozen drink—perfect for summer, vacation and celebration.
All that said, there is so much more to tequila and tequila drinks than the Margarita. The spirit adds a unique, savory dimension to mixed drinks and also makes a good base for beer cocktails. Not that you have to mix tequila with anything at all—several premium brands are best enjoyed neat or with a few rocks, the way one might savor a fine scotch.
The tequila category is on fire right now, with more than 1,000 brands on the market. Our April cover story on tequila offers tips on how to market and sell the spirit and highlights some of the innovative things operators are doing, from tequila pairings and flights to custom serveware and creative chasers.
Education is key if you want to be taken seriously: If customers are tequila enthusiasts, they expect you to know your stuff. And if they’re not, you have an opportunity to teach them about tequila, which can enhance your operation’s authority and boost repeat business. This is true with any major spirits category, as well as with wine and beer.As our top-five—and even our top-10—most popular cocktails indicate, most consumers are still playing it safe with their beverage orders. And that’s fine, if that’s what they want to drink. But a little education and encouragement could go a long way in helping them expand their horizons.