Predictions

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Global Trends 2022: Technomic

Global Trends 2022: Technomic

by David Klemt

"For the World" neon sign

What? You didn’t think we would focus only on Canada and America when it comes to 2022 trends, did you?

It’s difficult to keep up with restaurant, bar, and cuisine trends if you keep your focus too narrow.

Technomic is acutely aware of this. So, we took a look at senior research manager Aaron Jourden’s 2022 Global Restaurant Trends Forecast report.

One specific item, a coffee, is a striking standout. But we’ll get to that in a moment…

Operations

First, let’s take a look at restaurant and bar operations.

It’s not just North America that’s facing a labor shortage. And in 2022, Technomic expects this challenge to persist.

There are a few ways we can look at labor shortages and other challenges.

One: We can make no internal changes, pretending hope is a strategy and things will work themselves out magically. Two: We can get cynical and hostile, putting the blame on workers.

Three: We can look at the industry as a whole and operations in particular to make meaningful changes. Working conditions can be improved, leadership skills can be developed, operations can be streamlined, inventory can be cross-utilized and maximized. What are we offering workers and guests? What can be changed to reduce costs, and to increase traffic and revenue?

In other words, operators are in a position to adapt, innovate, and make meaningful changes that will ensure our industry’s long-term survival.

Labor, supply chain, and cost issues will continue in 2022. However, Technomic predicts that 2022 will be the year of measurable recovery.

Fading Ghosts

Technomic isn’t saying that ghost kitchens are going put to rest.

Rather, the firm expects the hype around them to fade away. To be sure, ghost (and virtual—not the same thing) kitchens enjoyed quite a bit more than 15 minutes of fame in 2020 and 2021.

However, we’ve seen recent reports of certain ghost kitchen chains facing logistic and legal troubles. The shine very much seems to be dulling on this pandemic trend.

Again, Technomic doesn’t think ghost kitchens will suddenly disappear. But the incessant coverage? That may be on the way out in 2022.

Food & Flavor Trends

Now, the fun stuff. If Jourden’s report proves accurate, menus throughout the world are going to see some intriguing additions:

  • Breakfast Comes Back. With people heading back to the office and children back in school, the breakfast daypart will return. Operators who did away with breakfast may see value in bringing breakfast food and beverages back.
  • Chicken or the Egg? Per Jourden’s report, the egg sandwich is in a position to knock chicken sandwiches off their pedestal. So, chicken wins either way. Jourden points to an interesting element of this prediction: Eggs are fun, allowing for puns on menus, marketing, and branding.
  • Regional vs. Global. A number of regional brands will stand out against global brands in 2022. Regional brands speak to what today’s consumer wants: locality and hyper-locality; sustainability and responsible business practices; and a focus on healthfulness.
  • What Coffee?! Jourden’s report identifies a number of truly innovative and intriguing F&B trends for 2022. The one that grabbed my attention immediately? Avocado coffee. Already popular in Indonesia, avocado coffee is expected to find its way onto menus across the globe. Other items Jourden thinks will gain traction in 2022: Pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), Mexican flatbreads, vegetarian-friendly meat alternative halloumi, mutabal or moutabal (baba ghanoush’s cousin), regional comfort soups, and plant-based eggs.
  • Functional Foods. If you didn’t find avocado coffee intriguing, what about dessert foods imbued with healthful characteristics? Jourden identifies a few desserts that do more than satisfy a sweet tooth: Hand pies that boost immune systems, macarons made to enhance moods, and even ice cream that will enhance a person’s skin health and appearance.

Next year is going to be challenging. That simply isn’t up for debate. But it’s also going to be rife with opportunity and innovation for savvy operators.

Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Square: 2022 Threats & Opportunities

Square: 2022 Threats & Opportunities

by David Klemt

Square terminal in restaurant kitchen

As all hospitality professionals know, the past nearly two years is imposing rapid change on the industry, necessitating rapid, strategic adaptation.

The key word in the above sentence isn’t “adaptation,” it’s “strategic.”

Of course, it’s hard to make strategic choices without as much information as possible.

To that end, we’ve reviewed Square‘s recently released “Future of Restaurants: 2022 Edition.” This is the company’s second annual Future of Restaurants report.

Square partnered with Wakefield Research, surveying 500 operators and 1,000 consumers to identify 2022 threats and opportunities.

Threat: Labor Shortage

Most operators aren’t going to want to read this prediction from Square. However, we can’t identify and adapt for opportunities if we don’t acknowledge threats.

Per Square’s report, the labor shortage may never see a correction. In other words, welcome to yet another new normal.

More than 70 percent of operators say they’re facing a labor shortage, per Square. Just over 20 percent of available positions were, at the time the survey was conducted, unfilled.

Instead, operators will likely, according to Square, need to make operational and work culture changes:

  • Improve working conditions. For example, encouraging and acting on team feedback. Another example? Modernizing scheduling.
  • Ensure workers are being mentored and not simply managed.
  • Hire, train, assign tasks, and schedule more strategically to operate with a smaller team.
  • Offering incentives that entice higher-quality candidates to work for you.

One participant quoted in the Square report claims that QR code ordering dropped their labor cost percentage by 150 percent.

Threat: Lack of Tech

As SevenRooms suggested when looking forward to 2022, technology solutions can lessen the burden of labor shortages. That leads us to another big threat: failing to embrace tech.

Some operators bristle at the word “automation.” For many, it conjures an image of robots in the kitchen and delivering food to tables.

Obviously, we’re opposed to replacing staff with any form of automation. However, we support automating tasks if that means team members are better utilized.

Why not automate inventory? Why not automate online order filling? If it improves operations and the guest experience, automation is less threatening.

According to Square’s report, 62 percent of operators think automation is appealing for managing online, delivery, and contactless orders. Ninety percent of operators say that back-of-house automation—if staff can focus on more important tasks—is a good idea.

More than 90 percent think automated inventory is an appealing solution.

It has taken a lot of time for hospitality to catch up to other industries in embracing tech. But Square reports that 36 percent of restaurants upgraded their business tech in 2021.

Of course, automation will become a threat if operators lean too heavily into it and stop paying attention to detail.

Phrased another way, be tech-savvy, not tech-reliant.

Opportunity: Omni-channel

Square see implementing an omni-channel strategy as the way forward. In fact, their general manager for Square Restaurants, Bryan Solar, said the following:

“We see the time of the dine-in only or takeout only as largely done forever.”

Going omni-channel (diversifying) in the restaurant space means making online ordering and delivery important elements within the overall business strategy. To that end, Solar posits kitchens will grow in size to better handle online orders.

Square’s survey reveals some intriguing numbers:

  • 13 percent of consumers say they’ll avoid restaurants that don’t offer online ordering.
  • Among restaurants with online ordering, those channels generate 34 percent of their revenue.
  • Over the past year, 54 percent of restaurants either added or expanded online ordering channels.
  • Online ordering is likely here to stay: 69 percent of respondents plan to offer it post-Covid-19.
  • 24 percent of operators are planning to allow guests to order alcohol from them online.

Another interesting set of numbers pertains to first- and third-party delivery. As we’ve stated several times, we much prefer operators offer first-party or direct delivery. According to Square, 49 percent of operators plan go direct delivery. More than half—62 percent—will pursue third-party delivery. That suggests that some operators will offer both.

Opportunity: Direct Ordering

When it comes to engaging online guests, operators need to control the experience. As I wrote for another publication years ago, a restaurant or bar’s website is still very important.

This statistic proves that statement true: Per Square, 68 percent of online guests want to order via a restaurant’s website or app, not a third-party.

More than likely, a significant portion of those guests want to know they’re supporting a restaurant and its staff directly. Hence the importance placed on ordering via the website or their own branded app.

So, operators would do well to ensure their websites feature an ordering widget. Or, they can opt to have an app built (or at least skinned) for their business.

Opportunity: Kiosks

According to Square’s survey results, 79 percent of consumers prefer ordering from kiosks over ordering from staff.

Most consumers and operators likely associate ordering kiosks with fast food restaurants. However, other categories can also benefit from these devices.

Close to half—45 percent—identified it as a preference when ordering at a casual-dining restaurant.

And fine dining isn’t immune to the convenience of tech. A little over 20 percent of consumers prefer to order via kiosk in the fine-dining space.

Overall, kiosks speak to the guest desires for convenience and safety. More than a third indicated that ordering via digital menu is appealing because they don’t have to touch a menu someone else has touched. And 37 percent like a digital option because they don’t have to wait for a server to bring them a physical menu.

Eleven percent of Square survey respondents will avoid a restaurant if they don’t offer digital menus.

Nearly half (45 percent) of restaurants are planning to offer QR code menus post-Covid-19. Another benefit of digital menus is dynamic pricing. As costs fluctuate, operators can increase or reduce prices easily without printing new menus.

Outlook

Representing a stark contrast from 2020 survey results, nearly 60 percent of operators say the survival of their restaurants is a concern in 2022.

That’s still a high number but vastly lower than how operators answered about 2021. Last year, 92 percent of operators surveyed said they were worried about survival.

According to Square’s report, operators are looking past surviving and making long-term plans. That’s a welcome sign that confidence is improving.

To review Square’s “Future of Restaurants: 2022 Edition” report in its entirety, click here.

Image: Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

SevenRooms Predicts 2022

SevenRooms Predicts 2022

by David Klemt

SevenRooms guest data image

As we near the end of a tumultuous 2021 we must look ahead to 2022 to set our industry up for best strategies, innovations, and recovery.

SevenRooms is doing just that, looking at what operators should consider to meet guest expectations next year.

In a blog post on the company’s website, SevenRooms reveals what they believe are the keys to success in 2022.

Let’s jump in.

More is More

The first quarter of 2022 will mark two years of the pandemic and its affects on the industry.

As SevenRooms says, some guests will not have been out of their homes for two years. The company predicts this contingent will be looking to unleash pent-up demand.

Of course, that represents an opportunity for operators. Another wave of pent-up demand can mean a boost in traffic and revenue.

However, guest expectations will be sky high. That cliché that less is more? Yeah, you can toss that right out.

More will be more for this contingent of guests looking to dine and drink out after feeling cooped up for month after endless month.

Sure, some guests are aware that operators are facing labor shortages, increased costs, and other pandemic-driven challenges. They know that workers are overwhelmed and finding themselves in hostile confrontations they certainly don’t deserve.

And sure, some guests are sympathetic to those struggles. However, they have their demands and expect restaurants, bars, and hotels to meet them.

What can operators do to meet those demands? In fact, what can they do to anticipate and overdeliver on guest expectations?

SevenRooms has a couple suggestions.

Collect guest data. At this point, this should be a given. How can an operator engage with and retain guests if they don’t really know anything about them?

Embrace more tech. Platforms like SevenRooms can handle a restaurant or bar’s reservations quickly and easily. This is a feature that, per SevenRooms, more than half of guests expect a restaurant or bar offer. Some platforms can also automate marketing; send guests post-visit surveys; and tackle review aggregation.

Convenience Reigns Supreme

Here’s a quick, impromptu survey:

Do you prefer a seamless restaurant, bar or hotel experience, or do you like frustrating dining, drinking and lodging experiences?

I’m going to go ahead and assume you prefer the former option. In other words, you like what your guests like: convenience.

Well, SevenRooms is predicting that the desire for convenience will only grow stronger among guests.

Yes, delivering on the increasingly important topic of convenience will rely on collecting data. But rather than view it as just one more task, SevenRoom suggests looking at it in a more positive light.

A number of the conveniences guests expect can be automated. They can even help ease the burden of the labor shortage somewhat.

For example, contactless ordering and contactless pay are close to becoming standards. Offering those features to guests means meeting expectations, thereby delivering an excellent guest experience. On-demand ordering and paying can also ease some front- and back-of-house pressure.

Collecting guest data allows management and front-of-house staff to add personal touches before a guest is even seated. Again, seamless, excellent guest service.

Another convenience? Online ordering. SevenRooms isn’t the first to predict that on-demand ordering is here to stay. In fact, a suite of conveniences will be important moving forward:

  • Online ordering during in-person visits and for delivery or pickup.
  • A user-friendly reservation system that goes deeper than just picking a date and time. Why not allow guests to select seats and even request upgrades?
  • A virtual waitlist. Not only is this convenient, SevenRooms says this feature can boost walk-in traffic and reduce abandonment.
  • Contactless, mobile paying options.

There you have it. Two seemingly basic predictions—higher expectations and a desire for even more convenience—with the potential to boost traffic, loyalty, and revenue.

Image: SevenRooms

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Canadian Trends 2022: Technomic

Canadian Trends 2022: Technomic

by David Klemt

Yellow neon "butter" sign and scaffolding

Curious about what to expect in 2022 as a Canadian restaurant, bar or hotel operator?

Technomic has some predictions for next year.

Reviewing their “Canadian Trends: Looking Ahead to 2022” report, creativity and streamlining will be keys to success.

Let’s jump in!

Butter

Yes, this is why I chose the image above. Technomic is very specifically identifying butter as an important 2022 F&B trend.

And no, they don’t appear to be predicting the popularity a particularly rare or esoteric butter. The industry intelligence firm means butter will prove important in 2022.

In large part, Technomic is pointing to comfort food as a driver for butter.

Generally, the firm points to how versatile butter is in the kitchen. Browned and herb-infused butters, says Technomic, will find its way into cocktails.

Flavor and texture will play an important role, extending the butter prediction into buttery foods territory. For example, Technomic predicts butterscotch, buttermilk and ghee will see a boost in usage and demand.

Additionally, the plant-based movement will help nut butters grow more popular. In fact, Technomic says nut butters will find their ways onto burgers and into cocktails.

Interestingly, the firm’s butter prediction gives operators two larger trends to watch: comfort food and plant-based.

Cross-utilization

You don’t need me to tell you that North America—and the rest of the world—is facing supply chain issues.

I know you’re exhausted from just the past nearly two years of constant adaptation and pivoting. In 2022, you’ll have to continue with your creative problem solving.

The supply chain challenge (there’s an understatement) requires creativity in several areas. This includes the kitchen and menu.

Technomic suggests that one path forward through supply chain problems involves ingredient preparations:

  • Pickling
  • Candying
  • Salt-baking

The firm says these creative takes on ingredients operators already have will extend product life; add new flavors to dishes; and deliver new textures. Those last two offer guests new experiences.

In addition, getting creative with the ingredients you may be able to get more readily will help streamline and update 2022 menus. However, revising your menu will require careful consideration of your supply chain and cross-utilization, with a heavy helping of creative prep.

Running Lean

Smaller footprints. Shrunken staff. Streamlined menus. Smaller, shrunken, streamlined, optimized, leaner…

Call the process whatever you want, Technomic is predicting that operators will need to “optimize” (read: make smaller) their businesses.

Of course, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. We’ve read and heard predictions since last year about what will need to shrink moving forward.

While some recent news reports say that ghost kitchens are out, Technomic seems to think that’s not the case. Technomic suggests ghost kitchens will remain viable for operators who want to expand without investing in real estate.

Additionally, Technomic’s report suggests something that should come as no surprise. In short, if it works for a brand or location, smaller may be better and here to stay.

Growth

Now, this is the most promising of Technomic’s predictions: Growth.

Per the firm, the foodservice industry in Canada was down 29 percent in Q1 of 2021. Pre-pandemic, sales reached $95 billion. That represents a loss of nearly $30 billion.

However, there’s reason to be optimistic in 2022, according to Technomic.

The firm expects growth of 21 percent in 2022 over 2021, or sales of $74.8 billion. Should this prediction prove accurate, 2022 would close just three percent under pre-pandemic sales.

Technomic identifies full-service as the foodservice segment to experience the most growth next year at 26.2 percent. In comparison, the firm predicts limited-service to grow 7.3 percent.

Next year won’t be easy. 2022 won’t be a magical return to normalcy. But there is room for optimism if Technomic’s predictions are correct.

Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Delivery and Takeout Food Trends for 2021: United States

Delivery and Takeout Food Trends for 2021: United States

by David Klemt

Yesterday we reviewed food delivery data and 2021 food trend predictions for Canada. Now it’s the United States’ turn.

Before we jump into the data and predictions, a word on succeeding with delivery in 2021 and beyond.

As I pointed out yesterday, when an operator signs up with a third-party delivery service, their guest data becomes the delivery company’s data.

That means that company and not the restaurant or bar owns the guest journey and guest engagement, and therefore owns the guest for all intents and purposes.

When a restaurant, bar or other F&B business enters into a contract with a third-party delivery company—unless otherwise explicitly stated—they give up control of targeted marketing efforts. In other words, third-party delivery platforms disrupt the guest journey.

Delivery became a way for many businesses to generate revenue during 2020, for obvious reasons. Operators who can afford to implement first-part and last-mile delivery should do so to maximize their revenue and control the guest journey and marketing.

To help operators own delivery, we’ve reviewed end-of-year reports from three delivery titans—UberEats, Grubhub and DoorDash—to share their 2020 findings. When it comes to the most ordered items, cuisines and categories, some third-party platforms are willing to share data.

According to UberEats, comfort foods were the most popular category:

  • Burgers and fries
  • Burritos
  • Pad Thai
  • Mac and cheese
  • California rolls
  • Chicken Tikka Masala
  • Miso soup
  • Mozzarella sticks

Per the platform, the following cuisines proved most popular:

  • American
  • Italian
  • Mexican
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Thai
  • Indian
  • French
  • Caribbean
  • Greek

As UberEats stated in their report, it appears that customers found a way to travel after all—they just did it through food.

Pizza, bagels, wings, tacos, burgers and dumplings led the way for Grubhub in 2020. The most popular pizza order was Hawaiian (because some people are monsters and put pineapple on their pies), while the most popular burger was garlic mushroom. Grubhub revealed that their top French fry was the loaded curly fry, and the most popular plant-based item was the eggplant burger.

In descending order, the top F&B Grubhub orders overall from 2020 were:

  • Spicy chicken sandwich
  • Chicken burrito bowl
  • Chicken wings
  • Waffle fries
  • Cold brew coffee
  • Steak quesadilla
  • Iced latte
  • Fish and chips
  • Strawberry shake
  • Roast beef sandwich

Per Grubhub, the top breakfast item was the acai bowl, the top side dish was French fries, the number-one late-night order was strawberry cheesecake, and the most ordered dessert was apple pie.

Moving on to DoorDash, the platform identified their top ten 2020 items back in November:

  • Chicken fingers and French fries
  • Fried chicken sandwich
  • Mac and cheese
  • Chips and guacamole
  • Apple pie
  • Pad Thai
  • Chicken quesadilla
  • Iced coffee
  • California roll
  • Chicken Tikka Masala

The UberEats, Grubhub and DoorDash revelations align with data collected by the National Restaurant Association between November and December of 2020. Per the NRA, the following were the top items sold by full-service casual, family and fine-dining restaurants:

  • Burgers
  • Seafood
  • Pizza
  • Steak
  • Chicken (excluding chicken wings)
  • Breakfast items
  • Pasta
  • Mexican food
  • Sandwiches, subs and wraps
  • Chicken wings

According to the NRA, the items below were the most popular for limited-service restaurants (fast casual, quick-service, coffee and snack):

  • Sandwiches, subs and wraps
  • Pizza
  • Burgers
  • Chicken (excluding chicken wings)
  • Ice cream, cookies and cakes
  • Baked goods
  • Breakfast items
  • Mexican food
  • BBQ items
  • Seafood

For 2021, DoorDash predicted the following items to see a lift:

  • Sausage, egg and cheese on a biscuit
  • Create your own omelettes
  • Carrot cake
  • Cinnamon roll
  • Caramel latte
  • Chocolate brownies
  • Black coffee
  • Donuts
  • Blueberry muffin
  • Biscuits

DoorDash revealed that Mexican, Chinese and Tex-Mex were the top cuisines ordered via the platform. The company also predicted five cuisines would be popular in 2021:

  • Taiwanese
  • French
  • Filipino
  • Australian
  • Moroccan

When it comes to 2021, multiple sources have named vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and health and wellness items as the foods to watch. Even this early into the year it’s not exactly a controversial statement to say that all of those categories are going to perform well in 2021.

According to DoorDash, nearly half of Americans (47 percent) plan to consume more plant-based items. Whether it’s truly healthier than its traditional counterparts, plant-based is perceived that way. In total, per DoorDash, 72 percent of Americans plan to make a concerted effort to eat healthier in 2021. This is likely due to an increased interest in boosting immune systems due to Covid-19.

Put another way, operators will likely struggle if they don’t add vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based foods to their streamlined menus, another trend expected to continue through 2021.

Predictions from the Specialty Food Association in particular caught our attention. For 2021, the association has predicted spices and herbs native to West Africa (Senegal, for example) will be in demand. Scandinavian and Cambodian flavors are also expected to perform well, as are Latin American and Southeast Asian items.

Due to interest in tahini sauce and black sesame, the SFA expects halva, which is a Middle Eastern confection, to get plenty of attention. The SFA and Datassential both named fermented honey as an item to watch in 2021.

Along with vegan and plant-based items, creative meal kits are expected to perform well. Restaurants and bars will continue to face restrictions and indoor dining bans over the course of at least the next few months. Creative meal kits will get the attention of customers who have grown tired of preparing the same meals over and over.

Whether an operator chooses to stick with their current menu or embrace one or more food trends, they should look into first-party or last-mile delivery. It’s imperative that operators own their guest journey and marketing efforts.

For more information about first-party and last-mile delivery, please listen to Bar Hacks episode 13 with “Rev” Ciancio, an advocate of keeping delivery and data in-house.

Image: Robert Anasch on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

These are the Drinking Trends to Watch in 2021

These are the Drinking Trends to Watch in 2021

by David Klemt

It was so much fun reviewing 2021 food trend predictions that we felt compelled to do the same for drinks.

We checked out Liquor.com, VinePair, Wine Enthusiast, SmartBrief and Forbes to see what they had to say about how and what people will be drinking in 2021. As we predicted, a number of the predictions were identical or at least similar, lending them even more weight.

Let’s get into the top trends for 2021!

To-Go Cocktails are Here to Stay

What was once a defining characteristic of partying in New Orleans and Las Vegas quickly became a necessity for operators throughout the United States. To-go drinks provided operators with a way to generate some revenue during the pandemic (to varying degrees of success, of course). VinePair and Wine Enthuisast have both predicted this trend will swing more toward a stand element of operations through at least 2021. Similarly, SmartBrief and VinePair predict that alcohol delivery also isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Also here to stay? Contactless/touchless menus. Guests have gotten used to them, and that’s unlikely to change.

When building out their cocktails-to-go menu sections, operators should consider another Wine Enthusiast trend prediction: the growth of low- and no-alcohol drinks. This trend has been growing for at least the past two years, so it’s worth noting and leveraging.

Cans, Hard Seltzer & RTDs Continue Their Rise

Canned wines, canned cocktails, hard lemonades, hard seltzers growing in the on-premise space… VinePair, Forbes, SmartBrief, and Wine Enthusiast all made similar predictions. Wine Enthusiast went a step further and more specifically suggested that the popularity of canned cocktails may be strongest in the first half of 2021. It stands to reason that what consumers make popular off-premise will be in demand on-premise sooner or later. Operators should probably assume they’ll be selling buckets of hard seltzers, hard lemonades and canned cocktails once people can resume dining and drinking in person like they did pre-pandemic.

Responsible, Ethical & Transparent Businesses are the Future

And the near future, at that. This shouldn’t come as a surprise—people vote with their dollars and today’s consumer wants to know they’re supporting restaurants, bars, hotels, resorts, and other businesses that align with their values. Wine Enthusiast and Forbes predict that consumers will seek out businesses that operate ethically and that brands, cognizant of this expectation, will work harder to be more sustainable and responsible.

Connection Becomes Even More Important

The statement that humans are social creatures by nature isn’t exactly a hot take—we all know this. Having been largely deprived of the ability to socialize, people are starving for interaction. SmartBrief predicts that consumers will look to connect more with the brands they support. This is largely down to people becoming accustomed to engaging with brands and people via Zoom and other platforms—they’re going to want to continue this engagement in person. Bars, restaurants and brands that have hosted tasting, cooking, home bartending and other events online should capitalize by hosting them in person when it becomes safe to do so.

Wine Enthusiast, in a similar fashion, predicts that people will be seeking out unique cocktail experiences, as does SmartBrief. Whereas VinePair predicts a return to classic cocktails, Wine Enthusiast thinks guests will seek out opportunities to try complex and esoteric drinks. Savvy operators may be able to save time and headaches by batching complex cocktails (at least in part), a trend Liquor.com predicts for 2021.

Operators can leverage the Liquor.com prediction that pop-up bars will grow in popularity this year. These types of experiences became more common in 2020 and bar and restaurant guests have spoken: they love them. Bar takeovers, partnerships with restaurants and food trucks… Operators have the chance to get creative with these events and attract guests craving new experiences.

Speaking of the importance of connection, Liquor.com fears the nation may lose a significant number of local distillers. The pandemic took a serious toll on distillers as tasting rooms were ordered to shutter or suffered from slow to no traffic due to the pandemic. This is an opportunity for operators and distillers: As consumers seek to connect with brands, operators can leverage the drive toward supporting local by featuring local distillers on their menus and back bars. It’s win-win-win.

Tiki is Out

This prediction speaks to responsible and ethical business practices and connection. Wine Enthusiast and Liquor.com, pointing to the colonialist roots of tiki culture and the appropriation Indigenous cultures. Liquor.com goes so far as to say tiki bars “are fast on their way to extinction,” using the example of Lost Lake in Chicago removing the word “tiki” from the bar’s lexicon. Instead, the words “tropical” and “nautical” are in favor, and the designs of such bars are eschewing the use of Indigenous images, symbols, stereotypes and language.

Honorable Mentions

Other predictions made by the publications and websites we reviewed ranged from the standard to the esoteric. For instance, Wine Enthusiast predicts that Cognac, tequila, mezcal and whiskey will continue their notable growth through 2021, with Irish whiskey in particular performing well while blended Scotch whiskey will be an exception. The publication also predicted, as at least on source does each year, that rum may finally have its moment in the United States.

Forbes thinks we’ll see rosé expressions of Champagne and Prosecco will have “a moment,” as will orange wines. Liquor.com predicts spirits will embrace and promote their individual terroir, and that “sophisticated” Jell-O shots will rise in popularity. The site, pointing to consumer concerns about health and safety, will reject shared cocktails like Scorpion Bowls for obvious reasons.

Two of the most unique predictions come from VinePair and SmartBrief. The former predicts more alcohol producers will make suspect health benefit claims, while the latter says we may see a demand for drinks infused with cannabis or psychedelic properties.

Image: Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

Top