4 Reasons We're Living in the Golden Age of At-Home Mixology

Apr. 2, 2017


During the 2016 Chicago Cocktail Summit, IMBIBE magazine editor, Paul Clarke, told an audience of budding bartenders that we’re all currently living in, what he believes, is the golden age of at-home mixology.

 “Today, consumers have the power to make something at home that is better than what they can get at the bar,” said Clarke.

Clarke isn’t alone in his belief that consumers are foregoing the bar and instead crafting their own beverage experience at home, and there is data out there backing up that theory.

According to a recent consumer survey performed by the wine app, Vivino, 47% of millennial and 61% of Gen X and Boomer respondents would rather drink alcohol at home than at restaurants.

So how did cocktailing — something that started in the 1920s as a way to doctor up poor quality spirits — become a nationwide trend? Many believe Americans' preference for drinking at home is part of a wider movement toward what some beverage-industry insiders are calling the rise of " home-tainment." Here are four reasons why this shaken and stirred trend is on the rise.

The Internet and Spread of Social Media

Consumers use the internet every day to stay connected, do research and gain insights into the world around them. It should be no surprise then that early adopters to blogs, chat rooms and message boards were often professional and amateur bartenders looking for tips, tricks and insights to both fuel and refine their craft.

“The web led to a two-way road of communication between home and pro bartenders,” said Clarke. “People would share recipes, advice on technique and recommend [at the time] little-known or regional spirit brands on industry blogs and message boards.”

Social media is playing a large role as well, as consumers are now more exposed than ever to creative and innovative cocktails being posted on Instagram and Snapchat.

“Social media carries the home mixology message very far,” added Clarke.

A Price-Conscious Generation

Millennials are a budget-conscious generation, with 59% saying that cost outweighs all other influences when deciding what to drink, according to research firm Technomic. With price being the overwhelming factor in a consumers’ decision to either go out or stay in, drinking at home quickly becomes the easy answer. Consumers' preferences for drinking at home should be something bar and restaurant owners keep an eye on. While total food and beverage sales grew more than 6% in 2015,  according to Nielsen data, beverage sales grew at a slower rate, by only 3.3%.

Budding Celebrity Bartenders

According to Clarke, cocktails are following a similar path to what food did a decade ago. The launch of Food Network and celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay, Rachel Ray and Anthony Bourdain brought a new wave of interest into culinary arts as consumers strove to replicate what they saw on TV in their own kitchens at home. Today, TV shows like Bar Rescue and rising star bartenders such as Charles Joly and Paul McGee are grabbing consumers’ attention and educating them to the craft of mixology.

A New Wave of Craft Spirits

In 2016, the U.S. surpassed 1,000 licensed craft distilleries. That number is expected to more than double within the next five years, meaning that consumers’ choice of spirits is only going to grow more robust. This is good news to off-premise accounts as they can now begin to grow and diversify their spirit selections into more categories, such as locally produced or organic.




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