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Pouring out new ideas for bars and bartending

August 19, 2019

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Here are a few business angles to cover bars and bartending. (Photo credit to Pixabay)

Every summer, there are new recommendations for local bars to try or cocktails to imbibe. Here are some new ways to look at bars and bartending.

The daily routine

Alcohol sales in drinking places, such as bars, taverns, and nightclubs, have increased since the early 1990s, reaching to about $24 billion in 2017, according to Statista. This is far less than the restaurant industries’ profits, rising to nearly $783 billion that same year.

Most of those sales come from liquor, which has remained consistent over the last four years; by comparison, wine purchases from bars and nightclubs have been decreasing in 2018, with nearly 26 percent being 18- to 29-year-olds. Beer is one of the primary choices, and craft ciders on the rise after a brief dip in 2017. However, spirits appear to top the list, primarily among Millennials, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

Take a look at bars around your area to see how they compare to national trends. Also, when are the peak seasonal times? Have they been picking up over the summer, holidays, certain days or nights, etc.? As for certain seasonal deals or happy hours, have those been profitable?

Is there a trend of bars opening or closing, and in which areas? What about in hotels, restaurants, etc.? Are old trends making a comeback? For example, The Atlantic reports that tiki bars are experiencing a revival in major cities like Manhattan, Orlando, Pittsburgh, and Chicago, albeit not without its controversies on cultural appropriation. Take a look at newer trends, as well, such as breakfast bars and rooftop bars.

Also consider profits and sales in niche areas, such as themed bars: saloons, karaoke, drag, and LGBTQIA-catered. Some bars also host watch parties of sports events, such as the Super Bowl and World Cup, and even of shows, such as the now-ended “Game of Thrones,” which caused a rift with HBO.

Alcohol origins, tariffs

With more people caring about where their alcohol is coming from, it’s no surprise state craft breweries are becoming increasingly more popular. Where does the alcohol from bars come from? Local? Imported? International breweries, such as Garage Beer Co., may have made their way to the U.S., but the latest Trump tariffs may be a source of worry to local craft breweries. Tampa Bay breweries, for instance, rely on cheaper kegs from China, as well as Mexico and Germany.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports an increasing trend of high-end bars and restaurants pouring out pre-mixed cocktails, or “pre-batching.” Pros include faster service, ratio control, and more time for customer interaction, but some consumers miss the experience of watching the bartender mix it up in real time. (Some bartenders don’t know how to make certain drinks, either.)

Don’t forget to factor in the ingredients — the olives, fruits, tomato juice, and tiny umbrellas — as well. How are they costing businesses? Will they be affected by tariffs? Are certain rare ingredients, such as flavored and often colorful salt, in higher demand?

New employees, new technology

Last of all is taking a look at the people behind the bars.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went back to bartending for a day to promote $15/hour minimum wage. Bartenders typically earn $22,550 a year, or $10.40 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job output is also slower than average, with 611,200 jobs in 2016.

Bartending doesn’t typically require a formal education credential and provides on-the-job training, but research whether bartending schools and similar professional opportunities are still relevant. As for robots taking over jobs, yes, there’s a cocktail-making one out there, too.

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