cocktail on table

Staying Relevant Through Innovation

By Brian Masilionis, Senior Director of On-Premise National Accounts Customer Development

As restaurants and bars slowly return to more consistent beverage alcohol sales performance after a strong rebound in 2022, consumers appear to be adjusting their behavior of visitation in 2023. There’s a great example of an account in my backyard of Kansas City doing everything it can to be relevant to these evolving needs. It also does an amazing job of delivering a wide range of the insights we noted on Southern Glazer’s Liquid Insights Tour.


First off, how are guests changing their visitation behavior? For one, coming out of the pandemic, the traditional dayparts have evolved. CGA by NIQ’s recent On Premise User Survey study conducted this Spring shows an increase in reported visitation to dayparts like “Happy Hour” and “Early Evening 5-8 p.m.” compared to Fall 2022. What might be driving this? On the one hand, discretionary income, which had been high overall during the pandemic due to a combination of government stimulus and consumers not spending as much overall, significantly lowered in Q2. It is also projected to remain low the rest of the year. So, guests are looking for options and reasons to still visit restaurants and bars but in ways where they can extend their spending – like Happy Hour. Also, people’s work schedules have evolved too with some working from home and not having a long commute home, so can enjoy dinner earlier than in the past with family or friends – say 5 or 6 p.m. Or, it could be with ride share, guests could responsibly restaurant and bar hop more and split their visits across different parts of the night out to enjoy multiple experiences in one evening.


On a recent night out with friends, I experienced  how this this approach on a night out might be playing out. It was a friend’s birthday and several of us live in different parts of town, so we all took several different ride shares downtown for “pre-dinner apps and drinks.” Our first stop was at venue with a patio and yard games, so it was relevant for a large group for a casual meet-up. It also has great locally sourced food in a very focused offering if we wanted to stay longer for dinner. But the beverage program – in addition to the casual vibe - is what drove my friend’s choice this night… a place specializing in aperitivo cocktails but also a varied and unique wine and beer program. So, after our multi-car arrivals, we settle in.


First there was a “dry” take on a paloma with sage-infused tequila, grapefruit liqueur, madeira (which added a very subtle dry nutty flavor), wormwood and fresh grapefruit. The madeira was a good expression of the “beyond basic balancer” trend we highlighted on the Liquid Insights Tour as well as the use of fresh herbs beyond the traditional. Another friend ordered the Neon Cactus cocktail which covered the trend of fat washing, using coconut, with a cousin of rum called charanda. Salt was another trend in the tour used in cocktails and in this case, they used salted aloe as an ingredient. This added both a slightly salty and floral aromatic twist to counterbalance the sweeter prickly pear and fig. Finally, my drink, was a unique twist on a gimlet with the gin infused with Douglas Fir and Rosehip tea mixed with Austrian stone pine liqueur that added a slightly bitter and wood-aromatic that accentuated the botanical tea and herbal gin and then shaken with the lime.


On the wine front, their offering was not deep but broad in flavor profile with wines from around the world and devoting one-third of their by-the-glass menu to sparkling (“Bubbly is Popping” trend). Also making an appearance was an aromatic orange wine (“Wines Chill Out” trend) and a non-alcoholic sparkling canned rosé made from the Riesling grape and four $12 offerings of premium non-alcoholic cocktails (“Sophisticated and Spirit-Free” trend). One of these sophisticated spirit-free offerings was a spritz made with blood orange spirit-free aperitivo mixed simply and deliciously with a sparkling non-alcoholic pinot noir served up an elegant wine glass with a fresh-cut orange wedge resting on top like a canoe… at least given the theme of the location, that’s what came to mind.


After enjoying our “pre-dinner” libations, we were off to the next stop - a historic steakhouse nearby that was enjoyed by all before heading back home to different parts of town in our ride shares.


So… one night, people from all over town, splitting the evening into two experiences across two dayparts to celebrate a friend and explore just a couple of the amazing things Kansas City has to offer – including experiencing many of the trends noted in the Liquid Insights Tour… all in one place!


Learn more about the Liquid Insights Tour at


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