Opportunities for cocktails as On Premise visitation moves forward

CGA’s latest data reveals how consumers have been ordering their cocktails since bars and restaurants reopened and the growth opportunities this can create for venues and spirits brands

CGA’s most recent COVID-19 impact report shows almost 1 in 4 (23%) consumers have chosen to drink cocktails since returning to the On Premise. This is principally driven by younger consumers, with 59% of under 55s consuming cocktails, and female consumers (27%) opting for cocktails in their previous visits. Overall, cocktails fall into the top 3 most popular drink categories consumed since reopening (behind only beer and soft drinks), which emphasizes the value to venues of having a compelling cocktail offering.


CGA’s data also shows that bars and restaurants optimizing their cocktail menus proves profitable with 4 in 5 (79%) cocktail drinkers having purchased premium/expensive brands within their drink. 


Ensuring that cocktail menus are engaging, easily available, clear to read and appealing is hugely important, as over 3 in 5 (62%) cocktail drinkers look at a menu every time/almost every time before choosing what to drink. Another potential avenue for increasing cocktail sales and engaging with consumers is by creating a cocktail specific to the venue. 39% of cocktail drinkers are likely to choose a signature cocktail every time/almost every time if available when visiting the On Premise.  


Bartenders and waiting staff have a key role to play to help drive the success of cocktails as the On Premise enjoys being open again (even with more venues adopting digital menus and ordering systems). This is because over a third (36%) of cocktail drinkers ask bar staff for recommendations every time/almost every time when ordering (rising to half of those aged 21-34). This creates an opportunity for spirits brands too. If they can ensure their products are used in a venue’s cocktails and can engage with staff to make them advocates of their brand, this can result in positive outcomes for both venues and drink producers.  


There are a good proportion of cocktail drinkers displaying experimental behavior upon their return to the On Premise. Over 3 in 10 (31%) mention trying a new drink category they haven’t tried before such as spirit in a cocktail, with this experimentation over-indexing among younger consumers. 2 in 5 (41%) 21-34 year olds have tried a new spirit brand in a cocktail compared to just 8% of those aged 55+. This confirms the importance of targeting marketing messages towards relevant consumer groups in relation to cocktails to ensure continued success for the category as the US moves into a post-COVID-19 space. 


Amy Warren, Director of Client Services, Americas, said “As a category gaining popularity with consumers, this presents a valuable opportunity for spirits brands and venues alike. Growth and rising cocktail spend can be driven in a number of ways and effectively leveraging experimentation, drink choice and trade-up recommendations, it’s likely consumers will continue opting for cocktails when revisiting the On Premise.” 


CGA’s consumer research sampled 1605 On Premise consumers across four key states (California, Florida, New York & Texas) between Friday and Monday (June 4 to June 7). To access the latest COVID-19 On Premise Impact report, click here 


CGA will be closely tracking consumers’ confidence, habits and preferences as the On Premise returns to full trading. To learn more about how CGA’s consumer research can support the recovery strategies of both operators and suppliers, email matthew.crompton@cgastrategy.com. 



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