Consumers are more aspirational than ever, seeking out new dining experiences and adventures, determined to recreate the same enjoyment at home— something especially important as the country continues to remain safely in place.
It’s no question that the craft cocktail movement has certainly had an influence on the at-home bar. Consumers enjoying creative and handcrafted cocktails, or tasting new spirits out at restaurants, have a renewed appreciation for proper techniques and ingredients. However, as consumers become more confident, so has their desire to refine their own bartending skills. Such aspirations have led to an increased demand for elevated wine and bar accessories for the home.
“We have seen about a 30% increase in our spirit-related products. Customers are looking to have a restaurant-like cocktail related experiences at home. They are realizing how easy it is to replicate some of the things that they often pay for, and I believe will continue to do so as the risks of dining out remain,” said Eugene Khayman, president, Eparé.
Another major influence on bar and wine trends that industry experts have noted is that of celebrity-driven brands.
“Gin is a trend growing over the last few years and it’s particularly strong for summer 2020,” said Martin Kehoe, president, Product Specialties, Inc. He noted the influence of locally sourced gin distilleries popping up and the increased use of the botanically infused spirit by bartenders looking to get more creative with recipes.
Tequila too has enjoyed climbing popularity, with Forbes magazine recently citing data from the Distilled Spirits Council that 20 million 9-liter cases of tequila were sold in 2019.
Of the spirit’s continued rise, Kehoe pointed to the popularity of tequila among Hollywood with actors such as George Clooney behind the Casamigos brand of tequila, which he recently sold, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s new tequila brand Teremana.
Overall, such influences signify a level of aspiration many consumers are craving and therefore have led to them actively seeking out accessories to help them explore new tastes.
Vendors have been developing functional barware that assists with next-level techniques yet also has a design-driven quality that gives consumers the confidence to put them on display in the home and on social media— both important avenues for sharing their cocktail knowledge and enthusiasm with others.
“The more you learn, the more likely you are to upgrade your tools. I think people who never bothered with bar tools are getting themselves the basics: shakers, strainers, bar spoons, jiggers, muddlers, mixing glasses, while people who already had those tools are upgrading,” said Ben Inadomi, president, True Brands.
Ice, too, has become a focal point, as consumers expand their cocktail making knowledge. Larger, clear cubes of ice are sought out more often for consumers who wish to slowly sip on spirits such as whiskey and bourbon, savoring the flavors and aromas of the brands they have invested in.
Slower melts and clearer ice prevents spirits from becoming diluted, said Khayman, who has seen the Eparé clear ice cube system rise since its introduction.
“We have seen an uptick in our craft ice products as people look to have a high-end experience at home,” he said.
In addition, to help take the intimidation out of the experiences for newcomers looking to expand their skillset, Khayman said education remains one of the most important tools vendors and retailers have.
Inadomi agreed and noted that the company has recently begun to enhance its educational programming for its customers and consumers alike with its Instagram account, a first for the wholesale company.
“Our goal is to educate the end consumer in these areas so they are empowered to assess their home bar and know what to look for to expand or upgrade their tools,” he said.