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Hot Trends in Alcohol Sales for 2013

The National Restaurant Association's What's Hot Alcohol Survey 2013


The National Restaurant Association offers a glimpse of what to expect at bars in the coming year. According to their What’s Hot Alcohol Survey 2013, local brews and spirits lead the way. Other hot trends are really just old favorites that never go out of style, such as wine, champagne and beer. It will be interesting to see which of these hot trends fades in a fad by the end of the year and which ones will remain popular.

Onsite Barrel Aged Cocktails

Emphasis on locally made spirits is all the rage for 2013. For centuries spirits were stored in barrels, out of necessity, for storage and transportation. Today, the resurgence of barrel aging liquor, began in London. Aging mixed drinks in wooden barrels imparts unique flavors, depending on the wood used.

Culinary Cocktails

A hot, hot trend for 2013 are cocktails made with complicated recipes, mixing traditional spirits with freshly squeezed juice, nectars, whole fruits and vegetables and herbs. For example, a bartender (aka Mixologist) may dress up a traditional mojito by adding fresh lemongrass, to create a whole new taste.

Micro Distilled Artisan Liquors

There is a definite appeal for homebrewed spirits, done in small batches. They offer a unique flavor and an added perception of value for customers.

Local Spirits and Beers

Just like artisan liquors, local beers continue to be popular. The 1990s saw a huge rise in micro brew and that trend, though perhaps not as novel as before, continues in its popularity. Consider carrying a selection or two from your nearest brewery. Try combining this popular with trend with another trend- beer and food pairings, and host a beer dinner as a unique restaurant promotion.

Traditional Cocktails

Tried and true, the Martini, Manhattan, Old Fashion – have a simplicity and elegance that will no doubt keep them on the bar menu long after above mentioned muddled lemon grass mojito hits 2013 Yesterday’s News.


Synonymous with celebrations and other special occasions, champagne is a restaurant standard. Depending on your restaurant clientele, you can opt for lower priced bottles or keep a few higher priced bottles on hand since you never know when someone will feel like celebrating.


Pedro J Perez
Italian, French, and California Like traditional cocktails and champagnes, wine is another trend that isn’t going anywhere. Nothing dresses up even the simplest of dinners than a glass of vino. Be careful though, not all wines are created equal. Australian wine was considered to be a waning trend (though that probably isn’t the case Down Under). And sangria, both red and white, was also on Yesterday’s News. Try hosting a wine dinner, as a fun promotion that builds on this popular trend.


Americans love beer. Simple as that. From pale blonds to dark stouts, beer is as American as apple pie and just as popular. While local and microbrew is currently a hot trend, large breweries are just as popular (and usually cheaper).

Citrus Fruits and Local Fruits

Whether for a garnish or for flavoring, fruit is always popular. Citrus fruit, which is low cost and readily available all year long goes with many drinks. Local fruits, another hot trend, reflect the much bigger trend of buying local and/or sustainable. Like offering local foods on your dining room menu, local blueberries for a blueberry-lime mojito or fresh peach nectar for a Sex on the Beach are savvy marketing tools that allow you to charge more higher quality drinks.

Traditional Spirits

Scotch, Brandy, Cognac, Gin, and Tequila are all rated as top trends or perennial favorites on the 2013 What’s Hot Alcohol Survey. Like beer, they will continue in popularity. Even if they are combined with lots of other ingredients for a culinary cocktail, spirits like scotch or gin will outlast any fad.

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