Trend. Sometimes, this is a four-letter word. While it can be incredibly rewarding – both financially and in terms of pride – to adopt, predict or set the next big trend, it can also be exhausting trying to navigate and stay on top of trends. Choose to chase the wrong craze or try to support too many and you run the risk of damaging your reputation, alienating loyal guests and losing money.
Luckily, operators have at their disposal many valuable industry resources that can help them decide what trends on which to spend valuable resources. One such resource is industry experts. Not only are they accessible through industry publications, many work as speakers, brand ambassadors and regional distribution managers. Each year, such experts convene at BES, or the Beverage Executive Symposium. This year, they attended the symposium in Newport Beach, California.
As we mentioned at the end of August this year, classic or so-called throwback flavors are an emerging trend worth pursuing. Flavors such as grapefruit, watermelon, pineapple, coconut and orange have proven to be very popular, with Grand Marnier, Cointreau and triple sec finding themselves in high demand for their orange flavor. The use of herbs and isn’t new but some have more staying power than others. Mint, basil, ginger, lavender, lemongrass, elderflower, cilantro, thyme, vanilla, rosemary, verbena and even oregano are the leading herbs and spices in terms of trendiness. Other flavors guests for which guests appear to be clamoring are fig, blackberry, raspberry, cranberry, cucumber and honey. With these flavors on the rise, expect greyhounds and salty dogs, screwdrivers, bocce balls, sours and smashes to be ordered by your guests.
There is another resource readily available to operators: staff members. Bartenders are on the frontlines and are in a prime position to be on trend. Guest interaction and access to other bartenders can keep them updated on what’s popular, what’s emerging and what just isn’t working. Servers are positioned to support bartenders, educating guests about what’s new, exciting and in demand. To ensure they can educate guests, management needs to ensure that servers are educated themselves. Make certain they know about the craft beers, craft spirits and signature drinks on the menu. Using every resource available, owners and operators can stay on top and ahead of current trends.