The top 10 drink menu trends for 2013 will be:
1. Onsite barrel-aged drinks
2. Food-liquor/cocktail pairings
3. Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients)
4. Micro-distilled/artisan liquor
5. Locally produced spirits
6. Locally sourced fruit/berries/produce
7. Beer sommeliers/Cicerones
8. Regional signature cocktails
9. Beer-based cocktails
10. Locally produced beer
Rounding out the top 20 hot drink menu trends for 2013 are:
11. Food beer/pairings/beer dinners
12. Salt (e.g. flavored, smoked, regional)
13. House-made lemonade/soft drinks/tonics
14. Cask beer/ale
15. Wine on tap/draft wine
16. Organic cocktails
17. Cocktails on tap
18. Craft beer
19. Signature cocktails
I'm scratching my head over these trends; after reading them it's obvious to me that Tucson, AZ is not trendy in cocktails at all. My wife and friends only eat out at the best restaurants and they're not on board with some of these drink trends; they do the salt thing though. I wonder who from the NRA will tell them (sarcasm). My area of expertise in this list is in beer and I see again that locally produced beer is on the list at number 10 but craft beer is at number 18 with Cask beer/ale at number 14. Who were these bartenders? Where are they from? Have they heard that locally produced beer is usually craft beer or did they want to include Miller when in Milwaukee; Coors when in Golden; Anheuser-Busch when in St. Louis?
My experience with cask beer has been very limited because it isn't supplied on a regular basis; expensive, doesn't travel well, not often produced...so I add those 3 points up and I don't know how you can get to trend status. I also love number seven, beer sommeliers/cicerones. When did these people become menu drink trends? I know the program is growing and that's great for the beer industry but its not a drink menu item nor is it growing all that fast. We have one certified cicerone in Tucson and he works in my department and Tucson bars and restaurants don't really care all that much that we have one; it's nice.
Number eleven, food/beer dinners are growing in Tucson, yea! We are somebody after all. And having these pairing dinners is educating the restaurants on selecting beers for their menus that actually go with their food. However, that's not happening fast enough, we have some stragglers. I was with a sales rep earlier this week sampling an Italian restaurant chef/manager some beer for possibly replacing another beer on draft. I started with an expensive saison and poured it into the proper glassware all the time discussing the beer's attributes and I had studied their menu ahead of time so I named what dishes the saison would go with and even explained about creating the experience of beer and food as a piece of art that customers would come back to enjoy. The bartender loved it but the chef/manager didn't like the flavor and even though he agreed about the dining experience it could create he didn't want the beer because he didn't like it.
That's why I'm not impressed when the NRA releases these so called trends, somebody forgot to tell the owners/managers of restaurants about how these trends make money. This chef was more concerned that the beer be local or from a neighboring state then the dining experience the beer would create with his food, ugghhh! Local beers have been on the trends list before and so a restaurant asks only to sample local beers for a draft beer selection without understanding what local beer styles would work with their menu or that there isn't a local beer that will work with his menu. This chef liked IPA's so something without that flavor didn't really appeal to him. I ask him, do the beer drinkers consume more at the bar or during a dinner at the table and the answer was during dinner and he goes on that two of his selections aren't selling well right now. Hello McFly! That's because they don't go with his food.
Anyways, back to the trends list, the list is fun to read and I'm sure to compile however the depth of the trends is lacking because their needs to be more on the how, why, and $$$$$. I think putting a continued emphasis on beer/food pairing dinners, beer/cheese pairing vs. wine, and beer with just desserts as a special event is where the NRA should point it's members if they really want to help them create more loyal patrons that spend more than what they planned to spend when there. My experience is that the chefs learn more when they do these types of events rather then reading about it in NRA published materials.