A Signal of Economic Woes to Come? Growth in Beverage Alcohol Consumption in Restaurant and Bars Ebbed in 2007

Jan 29, 2009, 08:00 ET from The Beverage Information Group

Shift to Lower-Priced Options Began in September

NORWALK, Conn., Jan. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- A slowdown in spirits, wine and beer consumption in restaurants and bars during 2007 may have been a harbinger of economic woes to come, according to data in the Cheers On-Premise Handbook 2008 published by The Beverage Information Group.

The rate of growth in retail dollar sales of spirits, wine and beer consumed in restaurants and bars was the lowest since 2001 -- the last time the U.S. was in a recession.

Consumers began changing not only their dining out habits, but their on-premise drinking patterns in the third quarter of 2007. While consumption and retail dollars for all three adult beverage categories climbed in 2007, the rate of growth abated compared with prior years. Plus, evidence of a shift to less costly options -- namely beer -- also appeared.

Bartenders interviewed in 2008 cited the following trends: the Margarita reigns as the most popular mixed drink overall, but is losing share to the Martini; Chardonnay continues as the best-selling wine varietal, but Pinot Grigio is quickly gaining ground; Absolut is the best-selling spirit call brand; Corona the best-selling imported beer, and Blue Moon the leading emerging beer brand in restaurants and bars.

Vodka continued to rule among consumers in restaurants and bars, but a shift away from flavors is emerging. Lesser known wine varietals, such as Malbec, Riesling and Prosecco, increased in popularity. Among beers, craft and regional options are appearing more often on tap handles. Infused water, signature iced teas and restaurant-made sodas are also among emerging trends.

The Cheers On-Premise Handbook, launched in 2003, remains the first and only annual statistical report on trends in on-premise adult beverages. Each new edition brings new content. In 2007, on-premise consumption data for distilled spirits and wine by brand was included for the first time. The 2008 edition goes a step further to include beer-specific on-premise data and more on-premise coverage for spirits and wine. Leading brands by category are included for all three sectors of the beverage alcohol business, plus best-selling flavor information and on-premise trend analysis by type of beverage.

The cost of the publication is $5,000; with CD $5,500. Shipping and handling is $10 for U.S. and Canadian orders, $20 for international orders. The handbook/CD can be purchased at www.beveragehandbooks.com or by calling Cynthia Porter at (630) 762-8709.

SOURCE The Beverage Information Group