Drink trends in restaurants for 2010

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 3rd December 2009

A new survey of 1,800 chefs has discovered that ‘beer sommeliers’ will represent one of the hottest trends in drinks at restaurants next year.

The National Restaurant Association revealed that alcohol has gained a firm foothold among top restaurant menu trends. According to the survey, locally produced wine and beer is the fifth hottest trend on restaurant menus in 2010, and culinary cocktails and artisan liquor both rank in the top 20. Additional alcohol trends to be seen in restaurants in 2010 include organic beer/wine/spirits, food-beer pairings, craft beer, bar chefs/mixologists, gluten-free beer, specialty beer and organic cocktails.

“Alcohol can be an important part of the restaurant experience, and the What’s Hot in 2010 survey clearly shows that wine, beer and spirits are essential menu items,” said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the Association. “In addition to the local sourcing trend that is also big in food items, we are seeing a fresh approach to integrating beer into meals, with chefs and ‘beer sommeliers’ working closely to select complementary solid and liquid flavours.”

“The culinary cocktail is another concept emerging as a top trend, taking guests beyond the traditional drink into more complex and adventurous culinary landscapes, often with savoury ingredients such as bacon, hot peppers and fresh herbs.”

Alcohol trends ranking high in the survey tend to mirror general food and societal trends, the report noted. Culinary and savoury cocktails, and the concept of a bar chef (also known as a mixologist) illustrate how palates have grown more sophisticated and adventurous than ever before. While local, organic and artisan-made alcohol reflect popular philosophy-driven choices.

When it comes to sources for trendy food and beverage ideas, the chefs ranked television, trade shows and independent restaurants as the best places to get inspired.