Over half of all restaurants have alcoholic beverages on their menu, ranging from over 90 percent of fine dining and casual restaurants to 21 percent of quick-service restaurants. Restaurants of all types are offering a wide range of beer, wine, spirits, and cocktails to keep pace with consumer sentiment and preferences.
The recent MenuTrends Keynote report from food industry researcher Datassential offers a wide range of information on menuing and consumer preferences for beer, wine, spirits, and cocktails. The report, based on the opinions and behaviors of over 1,000 consumers and insights from hundreds of operators, all combined with data from over 30,000 restaurant menus, provides comprehensive insights into the alcoholic beverage landscape.
It is no surprise that non-alcoholic beverages are the most widely consumed beverages on any given day (water and brewed coffee are the most common), but beer and wine are not far behind. Nearly 16 percent of adults drink beer on any given day, which is a higher consumption rate than non-alcoholic drinks such as specialty coffee and sports and energy drinks.
As America’s most popular alcoholic beverage, beer was chosen by nearly half of adult drinkers during their last alcohol occasion. Taste, accessibility, affordability, and lower ABV compared to other options contribute to beer’s popularity.
While light beers and ales are the most popular beer varieties called out on beer menus, session and sour beers are seeing strong menu penetration. Fruit flavors, such as banana bread, grapefruit, peach and apple, are also showing up on innovative beer menus across the country.
Consumers showed interest in two contrasting trends: indulgent dessert cocktails and skinny/healthy cocktails. Innovative restaurants and bars are offering dessert shots—mini, alcohol-infused reinventions of traditional desserts, featuring flavored liqueurs paired with ingredients like graham crackers, marshmallows or milkshakes. On the other hand, a third of consumers interviewed thought that healthier, lower-calorie versions of wines and cocktails were something they’d like to try.
Datassential, a Chicago-based food industry research and consulting firm, brings clients real-world information on foodservice and consumer packaged goods in the U.S. and around the world. The company’s services, including its extensive MenuTrends database, provide in-depth reporting on trends in menu offerings, flavor profiles, ingredients, and preparations.