Breakthru Experts Predict 2019’s Beverage Industry Trends

Dec. 17, 2018

Throughout the calendar year, we like to keep tabs on what’s trending in the industry by checking in with our expansive network of experts across North America.

With the new year upon us, it’s time to look forward and talk about what’s on tap for 2019.

Read through all 22 trends or jump to a topic below:

Social + Eco

A Greener Future

I think we will see an even more intense focus on this issue than we do already. Although the plastic straw debate was much maligned and seen by a lot of people as a trend, I think it was a good step in pushing this topic more into the mainstream.

Now a lot of people who may not have thought much about sustainability or waste in a bar or restaurant program will be thinking about what else beyond straws they can do. New sustainable tactics include composting, ordering more locally or seasonally, better to-go containers, using different parts of ingredients that may otherwise be wasted, ditching disposable napkins or paper towels among other things.

I’ve even seen discussions online about reducing the amount of ice used in cocktails (to save water and energy). Whether they are big or small steps, I think this is more than a trend and that the future of the service industry is only going to be greener.

Dan Dufek
Beverage Development Specialist
Breakthru Wisconsin

Sustainability Matters

2019 will see more bars engaging in a sustainability program or elevating their existing sustainability program. No straw programs and the elimination of napkins and coasters will morph into programs with reusable products. Advance sustainability programs will incorporate compost programs, reusing garnishes and utilizing normally discarded ingredients in bitters, orgeat variant syrups and other house made ingredients. The bartender community will discover creative ways of adopting sustainability in their bars and kitchens.

Vince Waldron
Division Sales Manager, CSS
Breakthru Virginia

Women and the Spirits that Move Them

Women are starting to rule the world these days, whether behind the gavel or behind the bar. Women-focused cocktails, features and brands will be even more prevalent in 2019 as we see more and more focus on these amazing gatekeepers, entrepreneurs and bartenders like Allison Parc and Amanda Colom among many others.

Jill Sites
Regional Director, Emerging Craft Brands
Breakthru Beverage Group


Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

There has been a distinct focus lately on wellness and a balanced lifestyle among the bartending community, and that message is being passed onto the consumers. We’ll see more non-alc cocktails appearing on drink menus. I think people sometimes will appreciate an alternative craft cocktail from time to time.

Natalia Cardenas
Beverage Development Manager
Breakthru Illinois

Health-Conscious Cocktails

I see more and more cocktails showing up on menus that are essentially low abv, low sugar, low carb cocktails catering to the Vodka Soda crowd. There have been a lot of new products coming out lately with health-conscious ingredients, which makes it easier for bartenders to create cocktails that share the same basic DNA as a Vodka Soda but have more complexity and flavor.

Mike Henderson
Beverage Development Specialist
Breakthru Colorado

Health-Conscious Cocktails: Part Two

I think we’re going to see a continuation of “lighter” cocktails. Millennials, in particular, are becoming more health conscious about what they’re eating and drinking, and they are interested in healthier alternatives.

Lindsey Casey
Field Sales Manager
Breakthru Arizona

“Lighter” Beers

2019 will bring even more low-calorie, low-carb, low-alcohol options for beer consumers striving for healthier lifestyles. Craft breweries will bring options showcasing hops with IPAs, and kettle sours among a category that currently offers mostly just light lagers and hard seltzer waters.

Ryan Ferebee
Certified Cicerone ®
Breakthru Minnesota

A Focus on Fresh

I think we’ll start to see more bars resort to using fresh juices. There has been an increase in consumer interest in fresh ingredients, which will result in many cocktail creators incorporating fresh ingredients into their bar program.

Anna Westby
Craft Spirits Account Specialist
Breakthru Virginia

Getting Back to a Spirit’s Roots

A big trend next year will be a return to natural, original flavors. We have gone through a period of flavoring spirits with artificial flavors, and I think consumers are ready to go back to the basics—just traditional spirits done really well.

Mandy Bain
Trident Specialist
Breakthru Arizona


Cans! Cans! Cans!

Seemingly everything is in a can now.

Ryan Woods
Field Sales Manager
Breakthru Pennsylvania


I’ve been seeing a lot more RTDs (Ready-to-Drink) with the big brands. More and more consumers are looking for products that eliminate the need for any mixers or extra ingredients.

Jessica Simpson
Trade Marketing Manager
Breakthru Washington D.C.

Grab and Go

There was significant growth in RTDs in 2018, and we expect it to continue into the new year. Suppliers both big and small are gearing up with exciting new flavors and packaging options to meet the demand, mostly led by our millennial consumers, who no longer think twice about paying more for a high-quality craft beer. As a result, the transition to canned cocktails and wine is a natural choice for them and combined with the convenience and quality of today's RTD's, this is a category that will continue to grow over the next few years.

Joe Palisi
Marketing Manager
Connecticut Distributors, Inc.

Alternative Packaging for Wine

As alternative packaging for wine becomes more accepted and available, retail—as well as fast casual dining—will create more space for canned wines and wine-based ready-to-drink beverages.

Alan Paquette
Vice President, General Manager Apex
Breakthru Florida

Single Serve Wine Glasses

We’ve had great success so far with the single serve wine glasses, especially with William Hill’s Chardonnay and Cab, and we expect that trend to grow next year.

Maura Quinn
Sales Representative
Breakthru Pennsylvania

Durable Demand

Pisco and Mezcal

I would say a trend for 2019 is a mix of shared love for Pisco and Mezcal. Both of these products built strong gains in this year, and honestly, I’ll be surprised if they don’t completely explode come spring 2019. With the opening of three new Pisco bars in Philadelphia alone, that trend is making its way into the standard cocktail arena as well. The sweet grape notes of a Pisco Sour are very hard to turn away from. It’s a really great drink.

Chris Chambers
Craft Spirits Development Specialist
Breakthru Pennsylvania

Obscure Wines

The somm community is driving the demand for obscure grapes and unknown areas on their wine lists. This notion brings authenticity to the buyer’s beverage program and gives them the stage to educate the consumer on something new. We expect to be challenged with more requests for these rare finds to keep wine lists fresh and trendy.

Kim Unterreiner
Division Manager
Breakthru South Carolina

Brut IPA

I often hear “the next trend in the IPA category is Brut IPA.” The few I’ve tried so far seem consistent, brewed with late addition hops for dry hopping that bring aroma and flavor and is very effervescent and bone dry on the finish.


Barrel-Aged Beers

We’ll continue to see more releases of bourbon barrel-aged beers, especially during the fall and the winter when the days are short and the nights are long.

Dave Kahle
Master Cicerone ®
Breakthru Beverage Group

Session Sours

Clearly one of the fastest-growing styles in craft beer. While the volume of session sours is fractional to the IPA category, I would expect this style to continue to grow over the next few years. There are many unique ingredients put in kettle sours from craft breweries, making session sours a very diverse beer style.


Imported Wine Innovations

Consumers are really gravitating towards new wine innovations, and among those, imported wine has enjoyed some serious growth this year and I expect this trend to continue next year.

Darin Harris
Vice President – Strategy & Capabilities
Breakthru Arizona

Asian Beverages

Many of our busiest and newest restaurants are Asian-themed dining, such as Japanese Omakase, Korean BBQ and Vietnamese Fusion restaurants. The natural complement to this food is Sake and beer actually brewed in Japan, as well as Japanese spirit-based cocktails.


Cross-Pollination Continues

We’re continuing to see an expansion of cross-pollinated commodities, whether it be rosé-flavored spirits or bourbon-flavored wines. It’s an interesting trend and we’ll see how long it plays with consumers.


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