Beverage Trends Tactics

Oct 28, 2016

By George Barton, Sr. Beverage Consultant.


Let me comment on a few current trends in adult beverage and how to best leverage your teams.  Taking the necessary steps can increase incremental beverage sales and as well separate you from that “sea of sameness” in the adult beverage category.


What we know:

Males are 2x more likely to go out more often than females. So how do I attract more female traffic in my restaurant?


  • CHANGE THE CHANNEL. Create a LADIES’ shed, not to compete but to recognize.
  • Women should  not only feel welcome but secure in your bar environment so think about how your staffing your restaurant.
  • Market inside your “four walls” with colorful and the appropriate amount of POP (point of purchase) with the intent to market to your female audience. Think about “Ladies Night Out” with a wine feature like “Little Black Dress”.

Spending– Adults


Adults are planning on spending about the same as last year with Millennials spending more. Think and react on how you can improve your beverage position here.

  • Continue to execute flawlessly but take a good look at your strategy and how you market happy hour and late night activities. Focus on those key day parts or when you have the strongest crowds in your bar.  “Fish where the fish are.”
  • Staff for success, simply not to accommodate. I rarely if ever visit a restaurant and find the bar overstaffed with bartenders.  Just doesn’t happen today.  Splitting a $1 tip between 3 bartenders vs 2 bartenders takes very little time to make up that difference.  Your staff will understand if you provide your strategy and why it’s important to build sales, not simply maintain and accommodate.
  • Provide beverage menus that are simplistic, yet call out top features that will move trial on new beverages. Innovation is critical and paramount in today’s age of mixology but ensure your target guest really wants a vintage cocktail.  It makes sense to create a bit of noise with new NEWS as well


Drinks Per Occasion–Let’s focus on 2nd Drink… We know from data provided by Mike Ginley at Next Level Marketing that consumers would order one additional alcoholic beverage during an occasion if key tactics were utilized and executed. Take a look at how they rank from most to least important, yet all fundamentally critical.


  • Ask me when I’m ready: So, teach your servers and bartenders how and when to ask their customer when their ready for their second beverage. Don’t wait until ice is being chewed or their wine glass is bone dry, nor when they are only 1/2 way thru their first beverage.  Timing is critical and finding that sweet spot is key. Don’t assume that your guest will only desire one drink.  “ Can I bring you another Blackberry Mojito” to go with those awesome Quesadillas .
  • Offer Better Quality: Teaching team members to up-sale should be part of training and on-going development.  “Can I have a gin and tonic” could have a response like  “Would be my pleasure and how about Hendricks”.  Turning a glass of house red wine into a premium or premium plus feature requires little   more than asking your guest, yet provide few speaking points about the recommended wine if necessary. Cocktails made with better quality ingredients can be called out on your menu, providing new innovation.  You should receive credit for this due to current trends in quality and healthier ingredients.
  • Faster Drink Service: OK, let’s staff to win, not to accommodate.  Teach and execute to a time limit or goal with respect to order and delivery to your guest.   Ensure servers handle one table and order at a time.  Staff with drink runners if required on busy shifts.  Excellent drink service and delivery will add multiple drinks to the shift.  Of course it goes without saying that all team members involved must adhere to alcohol awareness and your goal to support all legislation to keep our highways safe.
  • After Dinner / Desert: Excellent opportunity to offer guests after dinner cognacs or sweet aperitifs that will balance out and blend well with your guests dinner.  I would always offer a Sambuca when guests ordered a coffee or expresso and hit the mark about 1/3 of the time.  Again, alcohol awareness and ensuring your team members understand the signs of when to back off.  This in no way means your guests should order and settle for one adult cocktail.
  • Light and Low Calorie: Light beer, while wine, prosecco and sparkling wine as well as cocktails designed specifically with the intent to offer a lighter fare are popular and trendy with all age groups.


Address tactics that will deliver a punch with focus on these current beverage trends.   Pay attention to 2nd drink opportunity, execution and the female voice. Mixology and the voice of your bartenders is here to stay so why not use this talent wisely.   Approach alcohol service professionally yet with the goal to enhance and WOW the guest experience.