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Report: Alcoholic beverage preferences changing on menus

Food industry researcher Datassential has released its MenuTrends Keynote report on menu trends and consumer preferences for beer, wine, spirits and cocktails. The 160-page report, based on the opinions of more than 1,000 consumers and insights from hundreds of operators, combined with data from more than 30,000 restaurant menus, provides insights into the alcoholic beverage landscape, according to a company press release.

Over half of all restaurants have alcoholic beverages on their menu, ranging from over 90 percent of fine dining and casual restaurants to 21 percent of QSRs. Restaurants of all types are offering a wide range of beer, wine, spirits and cocktails to keep pace with consumer sentiment and preferences, the release stated.

Non-alcoholic beverages are the most widely consumed beverages on any given day, with water and brewed coffee being the most common, but beer and wine are not far behind. Nearly 16 percent of adults drink beer on any given day, which is a higher consumption rate than non-alcoholic drinks such as specialty coffee and sports and energy drinks.

As America’s most popular alcoholic beverage, beer was chosen by nearly half of adult drinkers during their last alcohol occasion. Taste, accessibility, affordability and lower alcohol by volume, compared to other options contribute to beer’s popularity, according to the release.

Light beers and ales are the most popular beer varieties on beer menus, but session and sour beers are seeing menu penetration. Fruit flavors, such as banana bread, grapefruit, peach and apple, are also showing up on beer menus across the country.

Consumers showed interest in two contrasting trends: indulgent dessert cocktails and skinny/healthy cocktails. Some restaurants and bars are offering dessert shots — mini, alcohol-infused reinventions of traditional desserts, featuring flavored liqueurs paired with ingredients like graham crackers, marshmallows or milkshakes. However, a third of consumers interviewed thought healthier, lower-calorie versions of wines and cocktails were something they’d like to try.