This holiday season, entering into 2022, there may be more people staying home by themselves and not travel as much to visit their families. This means that more people are looking for ways to make their holidays easier.
If spending it by themselves or with a small group of people, they may be looking for restaurants that have the options of to-go meals and to-go alcoholic beverages.
To-go alcoholic beverages are growing in popularity, starting in 2020 when the pandemic first hit, and everyone was forced to stay home and quarantine themselves.
In 2020, more than 35 states allowed their restaurants to have to-go orders, and this included to-go alcoholic beverages.
The pandemic accelerated restaurant and bar trends such as ghost kitchens, e-commerce brands, and now alcohol delivery.
Moreover, family dynamics are changing every year, and so are people’s diet and what they view as healthy. Drinks with little to no alcohol are now taking shape in the world of beverages. After the yearlong quarantine, people are looking for more ways to be sustainable and consume a healthy diet.
According to GlobalData’s Q2 2021 consumer survey, “34% of global consumers stated that they find sustainably/ethically sourced ingredients very appealing, highlighting an innovation opportunity for beverage producers.”1
Boston Beer stated “‘moderation’ is still a winning trend, as consumers look for lower/no ABV variations of their favorite drinks. Innovations witnessed so far in 2021 have included Street Hard Seltzer in Russia, Desperado’s virgin 0.0% mojito beer in France and Svami Zero Proof non-alcoholic pink gin and tonic in India.”2
With all that being said, let us dive into some holiday beverage trends in restaurants for this holiday season.
As said before, alcohol to-go grew in popularity at the start of the pandemic when everyone was forced to stay in their homes.
Instead of making alcoholic beverages at home, people wanted their favorite drinks from their favorite restaurants delivered to them.
Some restaurants had their customers order online or on the app, and the customer would drive to the restaurant and pick up their order via curbside.
Many restaurants had the option of the customers go inside if they were wearing a mask.
Restaurants across the nation started to participate in to-go alcoholic beverages at the peak of the quarantine, and now more are participating after quarantine.
According to the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Restaurant Industry, they reported that sixteen states, including Washington D.C. have made alcohol to-go permanent in their restaurants.3
In Austin, Texas, a restaurant called El Arroyo is embracing this new trend of serving alcohol to-go for their customers who want their alcoholic beverages to take home.
According to the Texas Restaurant Association, “Restaurants are about experiences, and alcohol-to-go lets restaurants give their customers a more complete experience in the comfort of their home.”4
Chili’s participated in to-go alcohol as well. Although, it varies on the location of the restaurant. Chili’s to-go alcohol includes their popular margaritas, margarita kits, gallon bags of margaritas, beers, wines, and a few cocktails.
Restaurants are still taking safety precautions and following local regulations when it comes to serving alcohol to-go to their customers. Customers must be 21 of age or older and staff members are required to check customers’ ids.
Firebird is also participating in to-go alcoholic beverages. “Firebirds’ most successful to-go drink is its signature cocktail, the Double Black Diamond Martini, a concoction of vodka and pineapple.”5
Lisa Kozloff, director of beverage and special projects at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, stated: “We realized people just wanted the drink […] We removed beer off the offerings and now [cocktails] are just in a plastic bottle. It has a tamper-resistant lid and a really nice label. Currently we have five offerings, and it’s been really successful.”6
So, if your restaurant is planning to make Thanksgiving and Christmas meal kits, consider adding alcohol to-go as an option for your customers.
Low/No ABV Beverages
There are people who prefer not to drink much for the holiday. They may want to be sober and fully enjoy their holidays with their families, or they may be the designated driver.
Therefore, these people are looking for low-alcoholic beverages or drinks that contain no alcohol at all.
Low alcoholic beverage options are good to have for those that may want the flavor of alcohol to pair with their meals, but still be able to function and not embarrass themselves in front of family and friends.
For those who are expecting a baby soon or are looking to cut off alcohol for the holiday season, non-alcoholic beverages are a good option to have on the menu.
Healthier drinking habits have started to become a trend since 2019. This is why restaurants have been starting to implement low/no ABV beverages in their menus, and this includes wine.
In fact, a Nielsen study reported “an average of 47 percent among all U.S consumers 21 and older are making efforts this year to reduce their alcohol consumption.”7
Salvatore Tafuri, a bar director at Times Square EDITION’s 701 West says, ““Drinking low ABV for lunch means people can get back to work without feeling dizzy.” The same goes for drinking during the holidays too.8
There are restaurants who are dedicated to not serving alcohol such as “Sans Bar in Austin, Getaway in Brooklyn, and Listen Bar in New York City.”9
“Coca Cola is even joining in on the trend of non-alcoholic beverages by rolling out a line of non-alcoholic cocktails in which include Sangria, Bellini Spritz, Dry Aged Cider, and Ginger Mule flavors.”10
With the holidays coming up, meal kits are a great idea to boost sales in your restaurants, but consider adding alcohol to-go, or even low/no ABV beverages to the alcohol to-go menu as well.
4. National Restaurant Association, “Alcohol-to-go is here to stay in many locales,” August 2021
6. Trevor Griner, “Will Alcohol To-Go Have a Place for Restaurants After COVID?” September 2021
9. Kristi Turner, “6 Ways to Succeed in the Sober Curious Movement,” September 2019