Mezcal, Local Spirits & Wine On Tap: Trends with Staying Power
It’s not just the Internet that changes things fast. Consumer trends, advancements in beverage alcohol technology, and the evolving tastes of your customers means that constant change is now part of running a successful bar and restaurant operation.
So here are 3 ideas worth considering, all of which show signs of evolving past mere trends in the overall scheme of adult beverage consumption in the US to become important components of your business survival.
This is a case where technology and the supply chain have finally caught up to the wishes of both producers and sellers: a delivery system that saves time and money, and safeguards freshness and flavor. Wine and spirits were long sold to bars and restaurants in casks. At many long-standing bars in Dublin (and very old restaurants in Spain and Italy), casks from which bartenders once directly pulled servings are proudly displayed.
Today, driven by a few dedicated entrepreneurs, more and more wineries are packaging their wares in kegs. The liquid is then ready to be served from well-built draft systems with the correct components and a gas mix that preserves wine at a level many say is fresher than their bottled counterparts. If more than 15% of your alcohol sales come from wine, and more than 30% of your wine sales are by the glass and recent vintages, you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t investigate both the cost, savings, and the intrigue factor of wines on tap.
Tequila may get all the attention from celebrities starting their own brands, but it’s mezcal that is really on the move. There are, unfortunately, built-in limits to the volume of spirit that the various mezcal-producing states can provide. But for now, the rustic and rambunctious agave spirit is getting lots of traction in the US, with various small brands showing double- and triple-digit volume growth. You may have noticed that craft cocktail bartenders seem to love including mezcal in multi-spirit drinks. Mexican themed bars are serving mezcal in flights, as Margarita floats, and even as the basis for a smokey Margarita. Tequila-focused bars, worn out by the sameness among many big tequila brands, are stocking more mezcals. Whether as a sipper, a shooter, a cocktail ingredient or a fine spirit, mezcal is gaining more and more popularity, and the opportunity to be a pioneer is still possible.
Lost in the hubbub about what is and isn’t a “craft” spirit is the real attraction to most consumers, particularly the elusive Millennial: “It’s made around here.” One of the major contributing factors to the continued growth of spirit consumption is that so many Millennials reach legal drinking age every day. This demographic has made it clear that heritage isn’t as important to them as authenticity; they like to know that real people working actual stills just a few miles down the road are the source for what’s in the glass. There’s no need to limit your search for the hot new thing to the Internet, overseas or out-of-state producers when you can look around your own backyard and discover fantastic local products.