by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Forward Progress: Trends by Venue Type

Forward Progress: Trends by Venue Type

by David Klemt

High contrast image of blue cocktail with lemon zest

One notable difficulty with considering new trends is that they’re not all necessarily a universal fit for all venue types.

For example, what may work well in an upscale restaurant perhaps won’t perform as well in a sports bar. Pursuing a trend that isn’t a good fit, obviously.

As any operator with experience knows, chasing fads and trends just to chase them can be costly. Doing so costs money (inventory, training, labor hours) and time deserving of better allocation.

However, failing to embrace any trends can also be costly. Watching a lucrative trend pass by can cost an operator guest engagement, perception, and traffic.

Take, for instance, the success of White Claw. Plenty of operators and consumers scoffed at the hard seltzer category as a whole at first.

Then, some people decided it was a drink category “for women.” As it exploded in popularity, hard seltzers proved immensely popular with men.

Basically, it’s an incredibly strong beverage alcohol category that resonates with a wide range of consumers. On some menus, hard seltzers are listed alongside beers.

So, hard seltzer, led largely by White Claw, showed itself to be a worthwhile trend to adopt.

Clearly, however, hard seltzer doesn’t resonate with all guests on all occasions in all types of hospitality venue types. For instance, generally speaking, a bucket of White Claws likely to be a top seller in a high-end restaurant specializing in seven- to nine-course meals.

Drink Trends by Venue

During Bar & Restaurant Expo in March of this year, Amanda Torgerson of Datassential presented 2022 drink trends operators should know.

One trend has essentially proliferated the industry. Really, it’s likely wise for us to all view this trend—hard seltzer—as mainstream now.

In the context of Torgerson’s presentation, Datassential is saying that hard seltzers are here to stay.

Among other trends, Torgerson shared Datassential’s data-backed view of drink trends segmented by venue category.

While every venue is unique and not every trend will work for every bar or restaurant in a given category, the results are no less intriguing.

Pubs: Dry-hopped beers, pastry stouts, and hard or spiked coffee.

Sports Bars: Mini-beers, hard seltzer, and reusable growlers.

Casual Bars: Seltzers with unique flavors, hard tea, hard lemonade, and drinks featuring local ingredients.

Upscale Bars: Negroni, wine-barrel-aged spirits, and flaming cocktails.

Nightclubs: Hard seltzers served with spirits, cocktails and punch bowls served with dry ice, and flaming cocktails.

Casual Restaurants: Wine cocktails, elevated brunch cocktails, and tea-based alcohol beverages.

Upscale Restaurants: Flaming cocktails (smoked may be better), all-natural wines, and made-to-order cocktail cart presentations.

Hotels, Resorts and Casinos: Made-to-order cocktail carts, alcohol vending machines, and drinks made with cold-pressed juices.

Interestingly, a few of the above trends identified by Datassential appear in multiple venue types.

The main things for an operator to keep in mind is what will resonate with their guests and what’s authentic to their brand. When it comes to trends, one size doesn’t fit all and an individual venue’s mileage will vary.

However, the above list should at least show operators what Datassential sees resonating with guests in an array of venues.

Image: Ozge Karabal on Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Booze Brands Spent Buckets on Big Game

Booze Brands Spent Buckets on Big Game

by David Klemt

Brown Wilson football on a football field

Super Bowl LVI commanded ad prices of $7 million for just 30 seconds, and several brands scrambled to snap up these record-setting spots up.

But before we get into some of the brands that purchased ads, congratulations to the Los Angeles! And condolences to Cincinnati Bengals fans—that was a heartbreaker.

Personally, I had no skin in the game. However, I was eleven years old when the Bengals last made it to the Big Game in 1989. I wanted to see them win last night.

Speaking of the Big Game, a 30-second ad spot reportedly cost $675,000 during the 23rd championship. In today’s money, that would be $1,530,442.

So, who in the beverage alcohol world splashed out $7 million for ads during the Big Game yesterday? And why do we still have to play this name game when referring to “that” game?

More importantly, what does it matter to you who spent so much on commercials on Sunday? Well, with so many eyes glued to TVs yesterday, it stands to reason that some consumers will be influenced to seek out brands and new products.

In other words, you may find that guests are ordering or asking if you carry certain products. For example, the products below.


Would it be a…Big Game…without a Budweiser commercial? Technically, yes. But I think we all know it would feel weird.

Yesterday’s spot was sparse when it comes to beer. However, it featured a horse and dog best friend duo, and that’s just as good as beer. Perhaps it’s even better, because dogs are dogs and horses are huge dogs.

Bud Light Hard Seltzer Soda

When Guy Fieri shows up you can bet whatever he’s endorsing is big on flavor. So, since the Mayor of Flavortown (who I’m now crowning Lord of the Land of Loud Flavors) showed up in yesterday’s Bud Light Hard Seltzer Soda, operators should count on some guests asking for these five-percent ABV RTDs.

Bud Light NEXT

Oh, you thought Hard Seltzer Soda was Bud Light’s big reveal? Nope!

The brand purchased two spots and one revealed Bud Light NEXT, the brand’s new zero-carb beer. The compelling ad asks people to consider the benefits of eschewing norms

Busch Light

Ya gotta love a brand that leans into having fun in their marketing. Busch Light knows who they are as a brand and, more just as importantly, knows their audience.

I’m not gonna lie, their ad made me want to kick back, pop a top, and listen to the soothing sounds of Kenny G. Outdoors. By a river. At the foot of a mountain.

Cutwater Spirits

People love the “Here’s to the crazy ones” quote from Steve Jobs. Well, Cutwater Spirits is raising a can to the lazy ones.

Just watch it below, trust me. Of the alcohol commercials, this was my favorite.

Michelob Ultra

The sheer number of celebrity athletes that showed up in Michelob Ultra‘s ad spot was breathtaking. Just as impressive is the fact that their spot came in at one minute. So, Michelob likely spent $14 million on their ad.

Of course, as a The Big Lebowski fan, the biggest feature for me was Steve Buscemi’s appearance in a bowling alley. Donny lives!

Samuel Adams

Well, your cousin from Boston got a security gig at Boston Dynamics. In Samuel Adams’ “Your Cousin from Boston (Dynamics)” spot, your cousin introduces the robots to the new Wicked IPA Party Pack. Whaddya wanna bet shenanigans ensue?

There are four beers in the pack: Wicked Hazy, Wicked Easy, Wicked Double, and the brand-new Wicked Tropical.

Image: Dave Adamson on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Volley RTD: Clean, Lean & Green

Volley Tequila Seltzer: Clean, Lean & Green

by David Klemt

Chris Wirth and Camila Soriano, founders of Volley Tequila Seltzer holding cans of Volley

The founders of the world’s first clean tequila RTD, Volley Tequila Seltzer, are on a mission that values transparency and giving back to the planet.

Dynamic entrepreneurial duo Chris Wirth and Camila Soriano are the guests on episode 66 of the Bar Hacks podcast.

The two share the Volley story, including what drove them to create the brand and their mission.

Transparency is Challenging

It turns out that being transparent on your labeling isn’t as easy as it sounds. When it comes to beverage alcohol in the US, there are limits on what a brand can include.

You see, alcohol labeling isn’t the FDA’s purview. Rather, it falls under the authority of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB.

A little bit of digging reveals that when the Alcohol Administration Act was passed in 1935—two years after prohibition was repealed—the Federal Alcohol Administration was created.

This federal body replaced the Federal Alcohol Control Administration. The Federal Alcohol Administration had statutory powers and, as the name implies, had authority over the alcohol industry.

Seventy years later, the TTB was created and is the federal agency tasked with alcohol industry regulation. That means they control alcohol labeling.

So, when the FDA implemented nutrition labels, alcohol was unaffected. As far as the TTB is concerned currently, there’s no requirement for the labeling of alcohol similar to what’s required for packaged food.

But David, I bet you’re not asking, just because it’s not required doesn’t mean I couldn’t choose to include transparent nutrition labeling for my bottle of spirits or ready-to-drink canned cocktail, right?

Apparently, no—that’s incorrect. As you’ll hear in episode 66 with Soriano and Wirth, it’s not that simple. In fact, the TTB may reject your information-laden packaging for being too transparent.

Without policy changes, there’s no incentive for alcohol producers to be more transparent—and they may be prohibited from doing so.

Simple Changes are Impactful

All that said, Soriano and Wirth were able to introduce new packaging after just launching in 2020.

You may have seen people wipe off the tops of cans before opening and drinking from them. In fact, you may be one of these people. If so, great—you know why Volley now has foil covering the tops of their cans.

As Soriano explains on the Bar Hacks podcast, the tops of canned drinks are horrifyingly unsanitary. And as far she and Wirth are aware, Volley is the only canned beverage other than San Pellegrino with foil caps (in the US, anyway).

Volley Tequila Seltzer RTD can lineup with new foil packaging

This simple packaging change carries a big impact. Likewise, it fits with the brand’s identity and mission. The brand is driven to be healthier, more thoughtful, and more transparent.

A single 12-ounce can comes in at just 100 or 110 calories, depending on expression (there are four). All Volley RTDs are gluten-free and free of added sugars. You won’t find fermented cane sugar, corn syrup, fake sugars, essences, or “natural” flavors.

In fact, there are just three ingredients in a can of Volley: 100-percent blue agave tequila, 100-percent organic fruit juices (never from concentrate), and sparkling water. And yes, Soriano and Wirth can tell you exactly who their sources are for each ingredient.

Win-Win-Win Mission

That brings us to their drive to give back and be responsible stewards of the planet. Volley is in a partnership with Leave No Trace, a non-profit committed to caring for the outdoors.

If some industry experts are proven correct, 2022 will be the year that tequila dethrones vodka as the top-selling spirit throughout North America. Not only does Volley resonate with tequila lovers, the brand is also at the forefront of other trends popular with today’s consumer: sustainability, ethical business practices, active lifestyles, transparency, and healthier options.

Add the facts that RTDs make for excellent delivery order add-ons and can be served as quickly as a beer and you’ve got a no-brainer for your restaurant, bar, hotel or resort.

We love a brand that offers upside in droves. Volley is a win for consumers, a win for operators, a winning brand, and a win for the planet.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Volley or any other entity in exchange for this post.

Image: Volley Tequila Seltzer