March 17, 2020

Taking your bar to the next level means staying ahead of the competition. For 2020, emerging bar trends mirror what is happening in the restaurant industry. Customers want positive, convenient, and unique experiences. As a bar operator, you will need to follow these trends as they will influence the changes you make to entice your customers to keep coming back.

Below are nine bar trends to keep an eye on in 2020.

1. More Healthy Drinks

Health consciousness is in. Customers are more aware of making healthy choices and this is spilling over to the bar industry. Expect kombucha, zero-calorie mixers, light beers, plant-based waters, and cocktails with fresh juice to be popular in 2020.

Worth noting is that several traditional cocktails such as the apple martini, cosmopolitan, and old fashioned each contain roughly 150 calories. Savvy bartenders could find marketing opportunities in reminding patrons of calorie-friendly favorites.

2. Hard Seltzers

Building on the trend of healthier drinks, hard seltzers such as White Claw are expected to rise in popularity. These seltzers have about the same alcoholic content as light beer and are made from just alcohol, flavoring, and carbonated water. They are light, refreshing, and perfect for customers who prefer cocktails but are trying to make healthy choices.

3. Points for Sustainability

Just as people are becoming more aware of their health, they are also more interested in the health of the planet. For bar owners, this means embracing sustainable practices and sharing with customers how their patronage helps to make positive impacts. This goes beyond simply using organic or locally sourced ingredients. Bar operators can also flex their sustainability muscles by investing in energy-efficient appliances or using environmentally responsible vendors.

4. Smaller Might Be Better

Bigger is not always better in the bar and restaurant industry. In fact, there is reason to believe that small might be best in 2020. Customers crave uniqueness, and repeated studies show they will pay more for new experiences. What better way to provide something different than with limited seats and delicious drinks?

5. Reaching to Cut Overhead

Bartender wages are trending upward, several cities have approved minimum wage increases, and new regulations will further raise foodservice costs throughout 2020. Bar operators should consider making adjustments to mitigate rising costs. Many bars will explore self-pouring beer service or alcohol vending machines, and in some establishments, more bartenders will double as servers.

6. Find Local Microdistilleries

Microbreweries and craft beers are commonplace nowadays, but that was not always the case. In 2020, microdistilleries are the next big thing, and bar owners should not ignore the parallels between this and the microbrew movement. Microdistilleries produce unique, small-batch liquors — exactly the kind of culinary experience today’s younger generations crave. Bar operators can capitalize on this trend by featuring selections from microdistilleries in their areas.

7. Self-Service Alcohol

Just 10 years ago, most people would have scoffed at the idea of buying alcohol from vending machines. However, a growing number of bars are now doing exactly that while also offering self-pour beer and cocktails on tap. These self-service technologies are similar to self-service checkouts at grocery stores. Customers use touchscreen devices to choose their drinks and pay with contactless cards or bracelets.

Customers love these self-service technologies for the speed and convenience it provides. Who really enjoys standing in line at a crowded bar? Also, bar operators who embrace these technologies can sell more alcohol without incurring more staff costs.

8. Mocktails On the Move

We already talked about how people are making healthier drink choices, but some are simply avoiding alcohol completely. Mocktails offer the exhilarating flavors of cocktails but without the calories or effects from alcohol.

Mocktails are so popular that several of the country’s hottest new bars are 100-percent alcohol-free. Bar operators should not fear traditional cocktails, but now is the time to craft an alcohol-free bar menu if you have not done so already.

9. Pushing Back Against Delivery

Delivery apps and services are threatening the business models of bars and restaurants nationwide. A growing number of people are finding it’s cheaper and easier to order food from home while binge-watching their favorite streaming shows. Now there are cocktail delivery companies, alcohol subscription boxes, online liquor stores and more that are competing with bars for customers.

Expect bar owners to push back on this trend in 2020. More bars are already cultivating their own online ordering and delivery programs, allowing them to reap more profits, control their brands, and keep valuable customer information in-house.

Final Thoughts

Following bar trends is a great way to differentiate your drink offerings and improve customer satisfaction. That said, without the right equipment you may find yourself unable to take advantage of this money-making opportunity. An easy way for bar operators to save big is to check FSX for the latest deals on bar supplies and equipment. FSX facilitates the sale of discontinued and surplus equipment so that you can be sure that you are getting high-quality products at discounted prices.

Click here to explore the deals that FSX has to offer.