The 5th insight identified in the Liquid Insights Tour is “Bubbly is Popping.” This captured trend-forward concepts extending their by-the-glass offerings of a wide range of sparkling wines and cross-utilizing those wines in a variety of cocktails to add both crispness and effervescence in both familiar and surprising applications.
Which begs the question… what if a restaurant and bar was built completely around an even wider range of fizzy options, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, in cans as well as bottles and over ice? Well, as it turns out, I found one in on a recent trip to Washington D.C. that opened in late 2022.
According to Gallup, beer continues to be America’s most-preferred alcoholic beverage with 37% saying they choose to drink it most often, but its lead has slid from the nearly 50% mark in the early 90’s which happens to coincide with when I was in college, but I digress. Notably, for the first time since this poll was started in 1993, liquor has surpassed wine as the 2nd most-preferred choice with 31% choosing liquor and 29% choosing wine most often. One of the key differences in recent years has been the explosion of sales from a spirit-based ready-to-drink beverage – High Noon. It can’t be ignored that this fizzy, light, and citrusy beverage could be one of the key drivers of this shift along with America’s continued and growing love of spirits from a wide range of types including vodka, bourbon, and tequila and others.
The venue champions everything from champagne to crémant, cava to lambrusco, beer to cider, and seltzers to spritzes and more. But, since beer is still #1, that’s where he begins with his offering. Like the restraint in quantity of items on wines by the glass in many locations on the Tour, while he starts with beer, his selection is very curated and tight, only offering eight. Styles range from lager, pilsner, wheat, Radler, Kolsch, cream ale and IPA with only IPA receiving two spots.
Next up is spirit-based canned cocktails, seltzers, highballs, tonics and even a hard kombucha. Then there’s canned wine selections, including “chilled reds” noted in the Tour (“Wines Chill Out”) like a crisp and dry bubbly red as well as a slightly sweet lambrusco. The Tour also noted the continued growth (on a small base) of orange wines – and yep – you guessed it, they have a sparkling orange variety as well. To round out the alcoholic canned offering are three sparkling ciders – one local, one from Vermont and another from Spain. There’s a narrow and delicious offering of non-alcoholic canned drinks too, including a couple beers, sparking rosé and a “phony” negroni cocktail along with Coca-Cola, Sprite, and variety of flavors of Fanta.
The sparkling cocktails offered get their fizz from a wide range of ingredients like sparkling wine, Fanta, grapefruit soda, Cheerwine cherry soda, Topo Chico, and tonic. Their negroni, simply topped with an ounce or so of sparkling lambrusco, was the best negroni I’ve ever tasted… and I’ve tasted my fair share! Their final offering of multi-serve cocktails was delicious and refreshing, focusing on drinks for two and an offering of three of their pre-batched cocktails highlighted in the Tour (“Batching for Speed and Service”) to serve up to 5.
This visit truly opened my eyes to taking the fizzy trend to the next level and delivering broad flavor appeal across a wide range of beer, spirits and wine in formats made popular in particular by younger patrons and the future lifeblood of the industry.
Learn more about the Liquid Insights Tour at www.southernglazers.com/liquid-insights.