Most bars and restaurants see significant changes in the types of beverages that are popular as the weather warms. The dark, stirred and strong cocktails that worked so well in the winter seem to yield to lighter, longer and more quaffable types with every degree change.
There are other changes worth addressing as well. Although the weather is still cool and damp over much of the country, now is the time to look at your beverage menus. This is increasingly true for popular seasonal wines and beers.
Take rosé wines, for example. At the end of the last two summers, bars and restaurants doing a lively business in seaside areas in the east have reported running out of their favorite rosés. This year, sommeliers and beverage managers have already reported that it is becoming increasingly important to get their orders placed by March or April in order to guarantee a reliable supply. Many are starting to realize that with some savvy selling they can extend the rosé season well into autumn (and ever year round), so buying big now is smart.
Seasonal beers, particularly those with a limited window of opportunity, require some forethought to select properly. These days, light wheat beers do so well that including a couple on the menu makes sense, as does concocting beer cocktails based on them to speed sales. The same applies to radlers, those fruit-flavored beers that are perfect summer thirst quenchers and crowd pleasers. International and local brewers are increasingly relying on rolling out those brews in time for a busy beer season. However, being selective about styles and mix is important for any operator looking to build regular warm weather beer traffic.
Of course, cocktails also require summer tweaking, with lemonade-based drinks as the logical first stop. Just as important are cocktails based on house-made sodas, particularly now that hard sodas are all over the media and supermarkets. Creating your own with commercially made syrups or those crafted in-house is an intelligent way to create a unique image for your operation and to make a little extra on a fad without simply adding another SKU.
Don’t forget to add a sparkling wine or two to your warm weather menu, both by the glass and in cocktails. Like rosé, sparkling wines continue to become everyday wines for many younger consumers, and you must meet expectations before you can surpass them. Domestic and international options abound at every price point, and the supply of sparklers is much steadier these days. Just keep in mind that the time to plan for those June celebrations and brunches is right now.