Break out the bubbly: Cheers is celebrating its 25th year of publication in 2014!
It’s fascinating to page through the premiere issue of Cheers and see how much the industry has changed—as well as how many things remain the same.
For instance, the trend of consumers upgrading their spirit preferences was a hot topic, just as it is now. “Our customers are trading up to premium and superpremium beverages,” said Rick Crossland, the then-vice president of research and operations for T.G.I. Fridays, in a profile of the casual-dining chain. “Looking down the road a year, we see people drinking less but better.”
It was the same story with higher-end concept operators. In a profile of the Hyatt Regency Chicago’s lobby bar Big, food and beverage director Barry Cregan said: “People aren’t drinking the way they used to in the ’60s and ’70s. We decided to offer top-of-the-line beverages. Now our patrons can have one or two good drinks, and they’re willing to pay a premium price for them.”
An article titled “I’m Really an Actor” laments the fact that the hospitality industry is regarded as something to fall back on, rather than a real and fulfilling career. That’s still true today for some positions, but careers in bartending are now commanding more respect, thanks to the consumer interest in classic cocktails, craft beer and different wine varietals, not to mention all the new and rediscovered spirits hitting the market.
One thing that definitely holds true is the on-premise effect on beverage alcohol sales. In an article on imported beer, Nick Infante, then the brand manager for Labatt Importers, told Cheers that “Once you get a customer to try a brand on-premise, they’re more likely to buy it off-premise.”
While this is still the case, many beverage alcohol brands have been focusing less on the on-premise market and more on new media opportunities to reach consumers, such as social media and television, thanks to looser network rules for accepting liquor ads. But I have noticed recently that more beverage alcohol brands are giving the on-premise channel the credit it deserves when reporting success stories.
We’ll continue to look at some of the early editions of Cheers throughout the year. As for this issue, we have plenty to help you get 2014 off to a great start, from a look at new gin styles and flavors to the exploding cider category, the wine cocktails trend, effective staff-training tips, and much more.
Here’s to the next 25!