Alcohol Shortage: What Restaurants Need to Look Out For

Oct 01, 2021

The pandemic forced many restaurants and hotels to adhere to changing rules and regulations creatively. Some allowed for drive-through drinks along with meals. Others started serving bottled ready-to-drink cocktails (think gin and tonics or margaritas,) while others started delivering alcohol with boxed meals.


Recently, reports indicate there may be supply and demand issues regarding alcohol. A few states, including Ohio, New Jersey and Vermont, are currently experiencing liquor shortages  related to the pandemic. In some states like Pennsylvania, customers will be limited to two bottles of specific alcoholic beverages per day in liquor stores.


North Carolina liquor stores are putting up more and more “Out of Stock” warnings as the alcohol shortage spreads.


What Is the Reason for Alcohol Shortages?

pandemic shortage
Empty shelves during the pandemic


If you remember the great toilet paper shortage during the start of the pandemic, you might remember how some items were in short supply in our local stores. Apart from toilet paper, commodities like flour, hand sanitizer, furniture, lumber, and even homes were getting harder to find in stock.

Like these impacted goods throughout the pandemic, we are experiencing a shortage of liquor due to supply chain issues.

These supply chain issues include a shortage in truck drivers, warehouse workers, raw materials, and reduced manufacturing. Even finding staff for bars and restaurants can be challenging. If multiple kinks develop in the chain, it will eventually directly impact consumers and businesses. In addition, alcohol requires time to ferment and age, so it may take some time to see an increase in supply.


How This Affects Restaurants and Taverns

Many restaurants and bars are in the same boat as consumers. They simply cannot get the level of alcohol supply that they are used to receiving.

The current strain on the alcohol supply chain may take some time to be resolved, so businesses need

Some restaurants are stocking up on ready-to-drink canned cocktails or ordering alternatives to specific flavors and brands.


Canned cocktail
Canned cocktail

The pandemic has highlighted how the restaurant and hospitality industry has learned to adapt to changing tides, even now. New experimental cocktail menus will likely emerge that work with available and sourced alcohol. Other restaurants may choose to focus on handcrafted cocktails with local ingredients, which could kickstart a new economic trend of supporting local businesses and vendors.

It’s unclear how long this shortage will last as we head into the holidays, but you may want to enjoy your favorite drink now (while you still can!)