Saturday, February 5, 2011

Artisan Liquor, Local Wine and Beer, and Culinary Cocktails Among Hottest Restaurant Menu Trends in 2011

National Restaurant Association survey of more than 1,500 professional chefs confirms that alcohol is key part of restaurant menu trends

December 01, 2010
Contact: Annika Stensson (202) 973-3677, Patricia Carroll (904) 484-0247

(Washington, D.C.) Alcoholic beverages can enhance the restaurant experience, and new National Restaurant Association research shows that artisan liquor, locally produced wine and beer, and culinary cocktails are among the top 20 restaurant menu trends in 2011. The Association surveyed more than 1,500 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation – on which food and drink items will be hot trends in restaurants next year.

“Consumers are becoming more sophisticated when it comes to their food choices, and our chef survey shows that it is also true for alcoholic beverages,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. “Just like food trends, alcohol trends mirror overall consumer sentiment. More diners are interested in where their meals come from and how they are made. Smaller local producers, fresh ingredients, professional mixologists and food pairings all show up as hot trends for next year and we expect to see many new and exciting creations on cocktail menus, wine lists and beer taps in the nation’s restaurants.”

“As professionals working in foodservice, it is our responsibility to make sure that our customers enjoy the whole dining experience, including their choice of alcoholic beverage,” said Michael Ty, CEC, AAC, president of the American Culinary Association. “We welcome the results of this survey as an affirmation of what we have been increasingly offering to those who come to dine in our establishments. As the movement toward local and sustainable products gains momentum, we expect to see more local and artisanal beers and liquors, as well as creative cocktails that use produce from chefs’ gardens, to satisfy a discerning dining public.”

The Association surveyed 1,527 American Culinary Federation member chefs in October 2010, asking them to rate 226 individual food items, beverages, cuisines and culinary themes as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news,” or “perennial favorite” on restaurant menus in 2011.

The alcohol trends revealed by the survey reflect trends in food and culinary themes. Topping the survey are locally sourced food and sustainability, and locally produced beer and wine land at number 12.

Micro-distilled liquor is ranked the number one alcohol trend (number 11 on the list of all 226 survey items) with 74 percent of the chefs calling it a hot trend. Culinary cocktails made with fresh ingredients, beer-food pairings, the concept of mixology, craft beer, regional cocktails, gluten-free beer and organic wine illustrate that consumers are seeking a more sophisticated experience when selecting beverages with their meals – and restaurants deliver. All of these items are found among the top 50 trends in the survey.

The National Restaurant Association’s International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event (IWSB) will delve deeper into some of these trends next spring. To be held May 22-23, 2011, at Chicago’s McCormick Place, the event gathers brewers, vintners and distillers, leading beverage experts, beverage alcohol buyers and more in one exclusive area where attendees have the opportunity to interactively explore the latest trends. For more information, visit

IWSB 2011 will be held in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show – the industry’s largest and most comprehensive trade show. NRA Show 2011 will be held May 21-24. For more information, visit

For complete “What’s Hot in 2011” survey results, a video, and downloadable images, visit


Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 960,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of nearly 13 million employees. Together with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Association works to lead America’s restaurant industry into a new era of prosperity, prominence, and participation, enhancing the quality of life for all we serve. For more information, visit our Web site at

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