Whether you run a bar or a restaurant, your guests’ drink preferences are changing. As Millennials grow older and Gen Z customers reach the legal drinking age, restaurants will want to make sure to incorporate the drink trends that are popular amongst these younger guests.

The top three trends for 2019 buck some long-standing traditions. Are these passing fads, or the future of the beverage business? Only time will tell. But for now, it’s important that restaurants and bars cater to the current tastes of their regular guests. Let them know you’re listening, and you’ll capture their business right away. If their tastes change in the future, continue to update your menu. Maintaining guest loyalty takes a balance of reliability and flexibility. It’s up to you to strike that balance while keeping your business in the black.

 

1. To Their Health!

Golden milk and wheatgrass smoothies were just the beginning. Now, your guests are taking their interest in healthy drinks to a whole new level. Floral and spicy flavors – like lavender and ginger – are topping the charts. For instance, the gin mule made it to the list of 50 best-selling drinks in the world for the coming year.

Your guests are also trying to limit their dairy intake. With veganism on the rise, some customers avoid milk entirely. Others might not be vegan, but are lactose intolerant, or simply trying to avoid excessive fats. Whether you’re running a full bar or just serving coffee, make sure you have several non-dairy options available, such as soy milk, almond milk, or even hemp milk.

Most important of all, diners around the world are avoiding sugar. Simple syrup has long been a staple of any bar, but many of your guests now prefer stevia or agave. Even honey is a popular alternative – although this might be an issue for the strictest of vegans. You can appeal to sugar-free guests by limiting your use of this ingredient – and also by noting in your menu which drinks fit with their dietary restrictions.

 

2. Meeting of the Minds

Hybrid drinks have been growing more and more popular for quite some time, becoming one of the drink trends amongst younger guests. From rosé beers to vodquila, breweries and distilleries are offering more and more cross-bred options.

Perhaps the best-known example of this trend comes from Glenfiddich, with their single malt finished in IPA barrels. The hoppy notes of this whiskey appeal to both liquor connoisseurs and beer enthusiasts, making it a great candidate for cocktails at a full bar.

These spirits also speak to a larger trend among your guests: the desire to try any novelty drink on your menu. Take this opportunity to collaborate with a talented mixologist, creating unique combinations sure to quench your customers’ thirst for brand new flavors.

 

3. See the Light 

Perhaps the most surprising drink trend among Millennial and Gen Z drinkers is their interest in low-alcohol drinks. This trend is great news for coffee shops and may require some creative thinking for bars.

These younger guests are abstaining from heavy drinking to focus more on their busy lives. This trend can be seen across industries. For example, consider Daybreaker, a series of sober dance parties that take place at 4 or 5 in the morning before a work day. Guests are excited to go out and spend time with each other, but they want to leave the party feeling prepared and productive.

Bars can capitalize on these drink trends among younger guests by focusing on mocktails. Did you know that 1 in 10 people would like to see more mocktails on the menu? The good news is, these drinks have a much lower overhead for your business. You can also upsell them to guests in great quantities, without worrying about their safety on the trip home.

The winter is a great time to test out new drink combinations. Your guests are cold, tired, and just excited to be out of the house at your restaurant. Whether you’re serving hot toddies, hot cocoa, or gin mules, you can bet they view their beverage as a very special treat. Spend the colder months collecting data on which drinks they like the best. When summer rolls around, you’ll be ready to market your most popular menu items.