The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Industry survey confirms cocktails are the way of the future

New research from Spirits New Zealand shows that cocktails now form the solid core of drinks menus for most bars, and will continue to grow in popularity.

The research revealed that 90% of bars now offer cocktails as part of their menu, with the majority (80%) anticipating that cocktails are likely to increase in popularity over the next 12 months.

Chief Executive of Spirits NZ, Robert Brewer, says the survey of bar and restaurant owners across New Zealand, provides evidence that consumer habits have changed post-COVID, and with the increasing cost of living.

“Kiwi consumers are now drinking less but are more discerning with their spend and are drinking better,” he says.

“Where a patron may have previously had three averagely-priced drinks on an evening out, the trend is that they are instead choosing to savour one high quality cocktail.”

Brewer says this has created an opportunity for venues to adapt to changed consumer demand, for example; by offering a larger range of cocktails.

“Not only are they becoming increasingly popular but are also higher value and higher profit than many other alcoholic drinks,” says Brewer.

“The average cocktail sits about 50% higher from a price point perspective, sells with an 8% higher margin, and makes 68% higher gross profit.

“In dollar terms, this means you’ll be making about $5.50 more gross profit per cocktail compared with other drink categories.”

Despite consumer spending habits changing, their tastes appear to be more consistent, with the respondents reporting that the Espresso Martini is the most popular cocktail they serve – both in 2023 and at the same time last year.

The Margarita comes in second in 2023, replacing the Mojito which was runner-up in 2022.

For those bar owners who are serving cocktails, providing options for customers was the most cited benefit (92%).

Creating repeat customers (68%) and the high profit margin (59%) were also important.

Conversely, the results also showed that for the 10% of respondents who said their venue didn’t offer cocktails, time was the main barrier, with ‘experience of staff’ also being a major reason.

However, many venues are starting to see the benefit of pre-batching cocktails, with 40% of respondents saying they both pre-batch and provide cocktails made to order, and 10% saying they now only serve pre-batched cocktails.

“One of the first rules for serving cocktails is time for service,” says Brewer.

“Your cocktails should be served as quickly as possible – not only does this keep the customer happy, but efficient service means best returns.

:This is where pre-batching comes in – prepping what you can ahead of time considerably speeds up the serving process and can even add to the flavour.”

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