6 Bar Trends to Look For In 2020

For an owner or operator of a nightlife venue, paying attention to popular trends and implementing them quickly are key components to maintaining longevity. Not only are your customers' tastes, interests, and desires ever-changing, but you're also part of a notoriously competitive industry with new innovations popping up all the time. In fact, for the new decade, there are already quite a few product and service trends on the horizon. Some of these, you may have already been introduced to this year; others are being predicted based on the expertise of those in nightlife and hospitality. Get ahead of the curve by incorporating them at your bar or event in 2020.

Hard seltzer expansion.

2019 was arguably the year of hard seltzer, with many big-name brands developing products that support healthier alternatives to traditional beer. As sales skyrocketed for White Claw, in particular, it even led to a temporary nationwide shortage. Despite its popularity, though – and being sold in nearly every liquor store and supermarket across the country – only 20% of bars and restaurants currently carry products like White Claw. Expect this number to increase significantly come next year. Boston Beer chief marketing officer Lesya Lysyj explains that hard seltzer has "staying power," and more venue operators want to take advantage of consumers' consistent growth and interest in low-calorie alcoholic beverages. This shift to the bar scene will successfully appeal to the masses while subsequently driving significant revenue streams for operators.


Not-so-obscure health ingredients.

According to the 6th annual Culinary & Cocktails Trend Forecast from Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, bartenders will begin to experiment with cocktails by incorporating fermented foods that have gut-healthy probiotics. Drinks with the infusion of ingredients like tempeh, pickled vegetables, infused vinegars, and fermented dairy products are set to appear on more menus, as they can create unique flavor combinations or act as simple garnishes to complement the overall flavor profile.


Selfie-worthy bar additions.

From Rosé Mansion to the Museum of Ice Cream, we're amid a successful time period for made-for-Instagram experiential pop-ups. Liquor.com predicts that by next year, bars will "take cues from these selfie extravaganzas" by adding design elements like mirrored entryways and whimsical restrooms that encourage snaps.


Augmented reality cocktail menus.

The idea for an augmented reality cocktail menu first debuted back in 2017 by restaurateur Jason Atherton at the bar of his London restaurant, City Social. Think of it as Pokémon GO for drinking. By scanning the mat that drinks are served on through the venue's app, its AR technology displays colorful illustrations, each reflective of the drink's theme and flavors. Consumers can then share it directly to their social media pages. Since then, this trend has expanded, most notably by bringing the physical menu itself to life. Bars across the world have developed ones that show animations, unlock hidden drinks, and provide the ability to log your drink of choice through the app. It's only a matter of time before this invention becomes a true staple, as supported by Nielsen CGA's top alcohol trend predictions for 2020. The alcohol category will be "infused with new technology ... to empower consumer choices," including "educational experiences through augmented reality."


Better ice cubes.

"People are starting to really understand the importance of great ice," Reliable Tavern's Kapri Robinson, who was voted Cocktail Queen of D.C. in 2017 and won Luxardo’s Sour Cherry Gin competition this year, shared with Fortune. "I love that establishments are thinking about dilution and its importance to a great drink." She explains that cubes simply won't do it for every cocktail, and bars are taking notice. One type, in particular, is making a comeback: clear ice. The massive cubes, spheres, or hand-crafted shapes are not just visually appealing; they also melt slower, chill more efficiently, and help beverages taste their best for longer. Interested in testing it out for yourself? CNET suggests the Scotsman Brilliance Gourmet Cuber, designed to make crystal-clear ice pellets in batches of up to 65 pounds a day, or the Clear Ice Machine, built by True Manufacturing, that touts a daily production capacity of 70 pounds.


Once you've adopted any of these up-and-coming trends, take things to the next level at your venue by managing your events, guests, and staff with TablelistPro. A real-time online reservations, ticketing, and venue management app designed for the nightlife industry, TablelistPro allows you to track every aspect of the night with simplicity and ease, straight through your phone, computer, or tablet. Visit our website to learn more about our powerful features and to schedule a quick, free demo.