Drink Trends in 2014: What’s New at the Bar So Far?

Monday, May 5th, 2014

drinks-trendsAlright, What’s Cooking readers. Let’s take a break from the blender tongue-twisters and bad range jokes and get businesslike about what’s being served at the bar. Last time we checked in, 2014 drink trend forecasts were predicting that premium alcohols, spices, infusions, cider, on-tap drinks, and mixed drinks featuring different types of alcohol would be popular this year, all with a heavy emphasis on the millennial demographic. How are the predictions measuring up so far? New drink trend results are in, so fire up your blenders and have your cocktail shakers at the ready. Here’s what’s going on right now behind the bar.

Savor(y) the Flavor

Restaurant research giant Technomic is reporting that savory drinks are stronger than ever—and we mean that both figuratively and literally. Micheladas are cropping up on menus nationwide and Bloody Marys are showing an 8.7% increase in menu incidences. Plus, the 3 fastest-growing flavors year-over-year in specialty drinks are chipotle, bacon, and Cajun. Likewise, an interesting savory trend in drinks is popping up due to a lime shortage. Vinegar is the “it” ingredient in cocktails according to David Flaherty for Nation’s Restaurant News. Vinegar is being used as an acid component in place of lime or lemon, an (more…)

The Numbers Are In! Drink Trend Forecast for 2014

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

The Numbers Are In! Drink Trend Forecast for 2014Ladies and gentlemen, start your ice machines! The predictions for 2014 drink trends are in, and trends are surfacing in on-premise sales, new flavor profiles, and fancy additions to cocktails. Some of the drink trends of 2013 are carrying over into the new year, but many brand new ones are surfacing as well. We’re certain that restaurants’ ice machines will be plenty busy this year as they adjust for the changing beverage scene.

Want to know more? Here are 6 of the top beverage trends to expect in 2014. Ready, set, sip!

1.  Premium alcohol beverages are on the rise according to Technomic’s 2013 BarTAB report. Technomic also anticipates continued dollar growth in premium adult beverages during 2014. While conscious of a slow economy, consumers seem to be drinking on-premise less, but spending more—not unlike “the ‘drinking less, but drinking better’ trend of the early 1990s” said Eric Schmidt, Technomic’s director of research. Top contenders to pair your ice machines’ ice with include Irish whiskey, single-malt scotch, and imported vodka.

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How to Be a Wine Connoisseur

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

How to Be a Wine ConnoisseurSo, it’s wine o’ clock at your restaurant, and you have no idea what wine to serve your customers. Don’t worry; ShortOrder is here to help. We’ve put together a short four-step plan that will turn you into a wine guru.

1. Develop Your Own Wine Palate
If you have never been one for the taste of wine, we suggest starting out with a modest wine. For example, many white wine-only drinkers who want to try the world of red wine start out with a nice Malbec, because its flavor isn’t as bold as, say, a Merlot or Cabernet. Also, to help you truly experience all of the flavors, we suggest that you make sure to swish each sip around your mouth instead of just throwing it back.

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What Millennials Want from a Drink Menu

Monday, November 11th, 2013

There has been a lot of buzz lately about Millennials’ emerging role in the foodservice industry. They are a unique demographic, clocking in as the biggest generation since the Baby Boomers at 68 million individuals, and consisting of Americans between the ages of 21 and 34. From opting for price-conscious drinks to shaking up new flavors using ice machines’ ice for cocktails, there are many different ways that restaurants can cater to Millennials when it comes to modifying and marketing their drink menus. Here are 4 ways to tap into things that are important to Millennials when it comes to beverages:

Try What’s Trending

Pay attention to what’s new in the adult beverage industry. According to a survey by Technomic, Inc., Millennials are more likely to try a new drink than other demographics are. Tap into drink trends and new products to keep your beverage menu up-to-date and interesting so that Millennial consumers will take notice and keep coming back.

Offer Variety

Whether you employ your ice machines to shake up a variety of cocktails, serve house-made liquors over ice, or blend a specialty margarita with ice from your ice machines, make sure you give Millennials plenty options. Again, this demographic is more likely to venture outside the norm to taste something new. Millennials are also more fond of a wide range of alcohols, from Moscatos to tequila to seasonal beers, so don’t be afraid to mix up your inventory regularly.

Emphasize Flavor

While sweet drinks are certainly a favorite among Millennial imbibers, they are often an introduction to more a more expansive range of adult beverage ingredients. Pair spicy, smoky, or subtle flavors with ice from your ice machines to create unique drinks that cater to Millennials’ tastes.

Brand Loyalty? Not So Much

When it comes to choosing drinks, Millennials are less concerned with brand loyalty than they are with deals and a reasonable price point. As a demographic with high demands for creative drinks but relatively low funds to buy them, restaurants should focus on offering promotions and special events.

More Advice and Ice Machines from ShortOrder

How are you using your drinks menus and ice machines to cater to the spending power of Millennials? What are your most popular drinks to make with ice from your ice machines? Tweet at ShortOrder on Twitter or like us on Facebook and let us know!

Get Out Your Bar Equipment: It’s American Craft Beer Week!

Friday, May 17th, 2013

If you think you’ve missed American Craft Beer Week, don’t worry! Stock your bar equipment and get ready for this weekend. American Craft Beer Week runs through this Sunday, May 19th, so you still have plenty of time to find a craft beer to serve with the bar equipment at your business or enjoy at your favorite watering hole.

What is American Craft Beer Week? It’s a week dedicated to celebrating the small and independent craft breweries that populate this fine nation. (As of June 2012, 2,075 of America’s 2,126 breweries were local craft brewers.) The Brewers Association, the national non-profit association behind ACBW, has called it “The Mother of All Beer Weeks.” ACBW gives all bars, restaurants, and purveyors of alcoholic beverages a reason to feature beers from their local breweries, bringing craft beer fans together to drink and make merry. For a list of craft beer events going on this weekend, check out CraftBeer.com’s events calendar.

But why not make your own ACBW fun? Or for that matter, make every week American Craft Beer Week? Stock up your bar equipment with local brews and prepare for success. It’s not just generous to support your local breweries—it can also be advantageous to your business. No longer a niche market, craft brew is gaining in popularity; so much so that major chains like Chili’s are putting their bar equipment to use by featuring craft brews on their menus. Additionally, in the “What’s Hot in 2013 Alcohol Survey” by the National Restaurant Association, locally-produced beer was the #1 predicted trend in beer for 2013, with craft beer and house-brewed beer following close behind in 3rd and 4th places. And according to Jennifer Zegler, a beverage analyst for the Mintel market research consultancy, “…craft beer has kept an upward trajectory throughout the economic downturn and subsequent slow recovery,” outdoing domestic and imported beer counterparts.

Do you stock craft beer in your restaurant? What’s your favorite craft beer? How do you use your bar equipment? Find ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and let us know how you’re featuring local brews with your restaurant bar equipment these days.

 

How to Update Your Drinks Menu Using Ice Machines and More

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Here at What’s Cooking, we’ve been focusing lately on the benefits of our fantastic ice machines. This week, however, we would like to talk about how you can put them to good use. We are talking, of course, about updating your drinks menu. Why is it important to update your drinks menu? It helps keep your restaurant on the map and distinguishes it from the rest. Whether you choose to add a few signature drinks or mix up the entire menu altogether, changing your drinks menu can be very good for business. Read on for ShortOrder’s tips on how best to use ice machines and more to make the most of your beverages.

How to Update Your Drinks Menu

Get creative with your menu change.  Make some signature drinks, see what is popular at other restaurants, incorporate new beverages on the market into your menu… the possibilities are endless. If you don’t want to commit to long-term change, consider have a special drink of the week. You won’t have to invest in new ingredients permanently, but you will be able to keep your menu fresh and interesting, ensuring that newcomers are drawn in and regulars keep coming back.

Advertise Your Drinks Menu

It is not only important that you update your menu; you need to advertise it. The idea is simple: make it easy for customers to see and select a new drink. Advertise your new menu on your restaurant’s website and social media outlets, include special inserts in your full menus, or add stand-up drink menus to each table. Also add your business to websites like BeerMenus and Taplister, which allow customers to search for craft beer near their location. Advertising on these sites also allows customers to find your restaurant while on the go. Customers search most often on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday between 1 and 9 PM, so be sure that your beer lists are up-to-date at those times.

Alcohol Menu

Consider stocking local beers, wines, and spirits on your new drinks menu. In the “What’s Hot in 2013 Alcohol Survey” by the National Restaurant Association, nearly half of the top 20 trends involved a demand for locally-produced alcohol. Onsite barrel-aged drinks was the #1 predicted trend, while micro-distilled/artisan liquor, locally-produced spirits, regional signature cocktails, locally-produced beer, craft beer, and signature cocktails all made the list as well. Additionally, going local can be a great way to support local businesses and create a niche for your own business. Put those ice machines to good use and come up with some signature cocktails. Obviously the more unique the cocktail the better, but a signature cocktail can also be as simple as putting a twist on a familiar drink and giving it a name that is specific to your restaurant.

Coffee and Tea Menu

You can also mix up your coffee and tea menu! In another survey of 2013 trends by the National Restaurant Association, specialty iced tea and organic coffee ranked among the top 5 beverage trends. Try a coffee combined with a special syrup, flavored milk, or even spiced tea. Offer it hot or use your ice machines to serve it up over ice. We recommend dice-sized cubes from your ice machines for cold coffee and tea drinks.

Ice Machines and More

For more information about ice machines that can help your business thrive, check out ShortOrder’s lines of Manitowoc ice machines and Scotsman ice machines. You can also explore more of our blog and learn about the favorite drinks of famous authors, how to choose ice machines for your business, how to save energy with your ice machines, and much more.

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