Navigating the Bar Business During the Holidays and into 2021

Supply chain issues and Covid-19 are not making it easy to run a bar right now.

The Oktoberfest kegs are empty and public spaces are starting to light up with the holiday spirit.  Most bar managers are pulling out their gingerbread martini and hot spiced rum recipes to fill their seasonal drink menus.  But in 2020 and the midst of a pandemic, will the same old holiday cocktails appeal to guests?  What trends and opportunities can bar programs leverage in the current market with different dining options and guest preferences?

Goliath Consulting Group analyzed data from our clients and national trends to identify some key options restaurants can utilize to expand their holiday business.  Here are three innovative ideas to get in on the holiday action.

The Seltzer Market.  Seltzers exploded on the scene in 2018 and continue to grow in market share.  What started with a few key brands (White Claw, Truly, etc.) is now a booming segment with representation from all the big spirit and beer players.  While some brands have flavors that are passable for the holiday season (Long Drink produces a highly rated cranberry seltzer), creating custom flavors is simple and full of endless possibilities.  Use a traditional base spirit for your seltzer (vodka, neutral spirits) or spice it up with some gin, tequila, or rum.  Look to flavors inspired by the season like spiced apple cider, sugar plum, cranberry maple.  Use cinnamon sticks, candy canes, edible flowers to garnish the drinks.  Insider tip:  Seltzers typically have less than 6% abv.  Drinks require less than an ounce of spirits.

Take Advantage of Modified To-Go Laws.  With many municipalities modifying laws on delivery and to-go alcoholic beverages, restaurants have a lot of room to get creative.  Most restaurant alcohol delivery programs function like food programs.  Guests receive enough product for a single meal and an experience they may not typically be able to prepare at home.  These options include cocktail kits or ‘build your own six packs.’  They are great for capturing the daily customer, but this holiday season is the time to think outside the box.  Cocktail kits, large-format cocktail recipes for families, branded pos (typically provided free of charge from suppliers and distributors) make unique gifts may normally not be available to customers.  Remember to check local laws before including alcohol in to-go programs.  Some municipalities allow beer and wine only and some allow spirit sales with volume caps.

The Virtual Bar Lesson.  Companies like and the Great Courses offer opportunities for people to learn from experts and expand knowledge.  It is time for restaurants hop on this trend and cater to the home mixologist.  This group may have read a book on cocktails or watched a YouTube video or two and now they are prepared to make cocktails for the whole family…whether the family wants it or not.  Restaurants can leverage their staff’s knowledge and guest service to bring regulars (and soon-to-be regulars) an experience like no other.  A quick curriculum of seasonal quaffs mixed in with a signature cocktail or two can help the audience feel like craft cocktail connoisseurs.  Use one of the multiple platforms like Zoom or Skype designed for interactive meetings and consider creating weekly curriculums that allow customers to participate based on specific subject material or join along for a ‘semester’ of bar knowledge.

Are you looking to maximize sales and efficiency in your beverage program?  Is your restaurant considering a bar reorganization for the new year?  The team at Goliath Consulting Group consists of industry professionals with experience in all areas of bar consulting, restaurant operations and marketing.  Contact to learn how Goliath Consulting can help your restaurant today.

Published by Jay Bandy

Restaurant and Franchising Professional. President of Goliath Consulting Group. A restaurant consultancy based in Atlanta, GA

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