District Restaurant News | Winter 2021 Trends Issue

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and texture of plant-based products, vegan is edging closer to mainstream. As with plantbased dairy beverages, vegan bakery and craveable vegan are sure to open up new opportunities for restaurant companies that want to broaden their consumer bases. As Starbucks has shown with its expanding use of plant-based milk creamers, restaurant operators will likely see the advantage of having more vegan options on their menus. Getting started is key; appetizers, sides, dressings and select baked goods can be the first step.

Low-alcohol and no-alcohol adult beverages With Dry January just around the corner, it’s a fitting time to discuss the merits of the lowABV (alcohol by volume)/no-ABV trend. Nonimbibers and those temporarily abstaining from alcohol want a taste experiences from restaurants and bars they patronize. When social settings resume post pandemic, they will want to partake in enjoyable dry options. WGSN’s Nielsen notes that there is a growing movement of “sober curious” individuals. With major breweries investing in loweralcohol and no-alcohol versions of beer, it’s clear to see the trend is here to stay. The Boston Beer Company, which produces Samuel Adams beer, recently announced the release of a non-alcoholic hazy IPA. “Just the Haze,” which is two years in the making, will be added to the Samuel Adams lineup in 2021, according to Beer Connoisseur. The hard seltzer movement has also paved the way into exploring lower-alcohol drinks. White Claw is a top brand, and Bud Light and Corona have come out with their own versions. According to market-and-information company Nielsen, for the 15-week period ending June 13, 2020, hard seltzer sales quadrupled to $1.2B from $300M for the same period the prior year. Currently, hard seltzer is on track to account for 15 percent of its category, which includes beer, flavored malt beverages and cider. It has made gains not just within its category, but also at the expense of wine.

Chaia’s vegetarian and vegan tacos have become uber-popular in Washington, DC. Photo by Chaia Tacos.

Gone are the days of plain-Jane mocktails made with an abundance of juice, too. Seedlip is a manufacturer that was ahead of the curve when it introduced its line of non-alcoholic spirits. The company produces three varieties that are gin alternatives, with varying degrees of spice and botanicals: Garden 108, Spice 94 and Grove 42. Others have followed, including Lyre’s, which produces a non-alcoholic Dry London Spirit, American Malt and Italian Orange. On its website, the company markets its products as low-alcohol and no-alcohol alternatives depending on the amounts used in drinks. Ritual produces a tequila alternative that has ranked high on flavor from the Beverage Tasting Institute, according to the company. This is another example of a non-alcoholic beverage bringing excitement to the lowABV-no-ABV drinking experience. Customers wanting to enjoy a “virgin margarita” now they have tasty alternative, rather than a seemingly incomplete drink. When restaurants and bars add choices that offer taste while keeping ABV low, they’ll help non-imbibers and low-imbibers enjoy social outings with ease. During the pandemic, restaurants that are allowed by law to have cocktails for pickup and delivery should consider having low-ABV/noABV selections to allow diners more choice. The District Restaurant News 29