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Happy Hour: As Consumers Boost Cocktail Skills, Retailers Win

With the holiday entertaining season approaching, independent kitchenware store owners predict the at-home cocktail trend will remain strong. Earlier this year, when bars and restaurants across the country were forced to close and consumers began to quarantine amid the pandemic, those craving a cocktail or two turned to their at-home bars. And with more time on their hands and virtual cocktail making classes emerging, the last few months have seen a surge in imbibers elevating their skills to try and mimic the cocktails they enjoyed out at their favorite establishments.

As such, there has been an increased demand in the bar tools, wine accessories, glassware, bitters, mixers and other accessories, that go along with this trend. In fact, during the last few months retailers have reported that anything to do with cocktail making has been consistent top sellers. Now, as consumers prepare to hunker down at home more often in the cooler months, the holiday season is the perfect time to show off their new bartending skills.

“I see the bar trend as a combination of people wanting to elevate their skills and their home life by delving into a creative space and creating ritual,” said Samantha Eibling, co-owner of Goods For Cooks in Bloomington, IN. “There is so much to explore within the realm of cocktails including what we see as a quickly expanding market of elevated zero-proof cocktails, or mocktails, a term seen as slightly old fashioned, if not insulting to the recent elevation of these concoctions among those wanting to live more healthfully or without alcohol.”

As such, Eibling reported that the store has been selling what she said is an “insane amount” of stainless steel cocktail shakers, jiggers, bitters, syrups, and shrubs. Glassware, too, has been a popular sell, as the category becomes more specialized with customers buying specific glasses to match their current cocktail obsessions.

“While we continue to sell wine tools, we are selling less stem glassware. Coupe style glasses have made a comeback and brandy glasses are slowly gaining popularity as well,” she said.

Kelly Gilmore, buyer, Kitchen Kapers, with locations across Delaware, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, echoed this sentiment and said cocktail shakers and glassware have also been top sellers for months and the retailer is eagerly stocking up on inventory so all of its locations are ready for what it hopes to be a busy holiday shopping season.

“We are starting to place our Q4 orders and barware is definitely a trend we want to make sure we are on top of and have enough inventory of,” she said. “We’ve been ordering cocktail shakers, glassware, as well as accessories like the silicone king ice cube trays from Tovolo.”

For more on barware trends, read the rest of our story in the September/October 2020 edition of GOURMET INSIDER®.

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