< Back to news 30 November, 2015

Winter drinks trends; drive bar sales to combat the January dip

Winter is, for many, a time to eat, drink and be merry. For businesses in the hospitality industry, it is also a key time of year to drive bar sales and improve profitability to combat the dip in alcohol sales in the New Year, brought on in part by Dry January. Staying on top of industry trends is vital for bar managers to ensure they are offering the best service to their customers and driving revenue wherever possible.

Britain’s leading purchasing company, Beacon, has therefore drawn on data and insight from its expert suppliers including Bidvest Foodservice, Lockhart Catering Equipment and Accolade Wines, to compile its top five winter drinks trends for the hospitality industry.

Leanne Jarrett, drinks expert and Deputy Head of Purchasing at Beacon, commented:

“Working with such an extensive portfolio of expert suppliers allows us to gain access to invaluable information from industry leading drinks suppliers, which we can then pass on to our customers to ultimately drive revenue and increase profitability.

 “The increased sales of premium spirits like Hendricks or Absolut in the retail sector is a trend that very much translates into the hospitality industry. On the other hand, non-alcoholic wines and mocktails have remained popular after a strong year in 2014, which will almost certainly continue into Dry January. We often work with our suppliers in order to identify which products are selling well and to develop our own flavour predictions for the year ahead.”  

Beacon’s winter drinks trends: 

  1. 0% alcohol

    Zero or low alcohol alternatives should be at the forefront of a bar manager’s mind across the UK, with the new Scottish drink drive legislation coming into effect at the end of 2014 and hitting the hospitality industry hard* and Dry January approaching at the start of 2016.

    Alcohol-free products are increasing in popularity this year, according to Accolade Wines, with Echo Falls recently launching an alcohol-free sparkling drink. Another of Beacon’s suppliers, Bidvest Foodservice, underpins this data reporting that alcohol free wine sales are currently up by 42%. Bar managers should ensure they have at least one non-alcoholic alternative on the drinks menu in order to cater to their customers’ needs.

    Sales of Echo Falls Fruits low alcohol wines have seen a huge increase this year, with Accolade Wines reporting supermarket sales of one million cases in eight months. Fruit flavoured wines are now able to compete with the fruit cider market, appealing to a much wider customer base. Following on from this success, Accolade has also reported a demand for wine cocktails from customers, with Echo Falls suggesting mixing its White Peach and Mango White Wine with elderflower cordial, pomegranate and mint for a refreshing drink.    

  2. Premium spirits

    Sales of premium spirits see an increase of 45% at Christmas time**, highlighting that the consumer is much more willing to commit to a higher spend during the festive season. Insight from Bidvest Foodservice has shown that in 2014, 42% of consumers planned to trade up to more premium food and drink for the Christmas shopping, which is a trend that is expected to continue this year. Premium spirits such as Absolut Vodka or Gordon’s Gin are appearing more frequently on drinks menus and are becoming increasingly popular in cocktails, replacing the usual house spirits. Try developing a seasonal cocktail menu using higher priced, premium spirits, in order to increase revenue into the New Year. 

  3. Whiskey and the American influence

    American flavours are now hugely popular in the UK and are very much reflected in alcohol trends this winter. Lockhart Catering Equipment recently reported that the sales of American bourbon whiskeys saw a rise in sales of 19% last year, including an increase in sales of Woodford Reserve of 100% in Waitrose.

    The slightly sweeter and spicier elements in American bourbon allows it to stand up well next to other flavours in classic cocktails such as the Manhattan, but is also popular served neat. To ensure bar staff have the right knowledge when serving whiskey, hoteliers should consider training courses to learn about every aspect of the drink and how best to serve it.

  4. Flavour forecast – Ginger
    Drawing on information from the Technomic Inc. Menu Monitor, Bidvest Foodservice has highlighted ginger as a flavour trend for winter and into early 2016. This is a flavour that is expected to appear in cocktails such as the Moscow Mule - made with vodka, lime and sugar syrup – with ginger beer added for a winter twist. Ginger beer is also becoming increasingly popular either as an alcoholic drink, such as ginger flavoured ales, or non-alcoholic like Crabbies Ginger Beer.