In the foodservice industry, beverages have become big business. From signature offerings, upscale java, healthful juices and smoothies, and creative alcoholic concoctions created by renowned mixologists, drinks are now a draw for many establishments.

Sales in snack and non-alcoholic beverage bars alone were forecasted to total close to $41 billion in 2017, according to New York-based research firm Statistica.

High-end, non-alcoholic drinks are now at the forefront, along with beverages of all types that include innovative flavors.

In its 2018 What’s Hot report, the Washington, D.C.-based National Restaurant Association lists a number of trending beverages. The alcoholic side is seeing an increase in culinary cocktails; locally-produced spirits, wine and beer; craft or artisan spirits; onsite barrel-aged drinks; and regional signature cocktails. In the non-alcoholic segment, consumers are seeking house-made or artisan soft drinks; cold-brew coffee; gourmet lemonade; locally- or house-roasted coffee; and specialty iced tea.

Beverage menus are becoming more of a differentiator, as foodservice operations from quick-service to fast-casual to fine dining seek to set their restaurants apart and become a destination.

Proof of the beverage segment’s profitability potential is the growing number of fast-casual restaurants incorporating alcoholic drinks in their offerings. These operators can increase sales between three and 10 percent, according to various reports. These beverages also can help expand an eatery’s demographic.

Looking ahead, many predict beverage trends will mirror those in food, with healthier options prevailing, and a continued focus on customization and signature offerings that help set these menus apart. In the following pages, you’ll find how a handful of equipment manufacturers are taking advantage of the beverage trends.

Elkay - Fresh, Filtered Water for All Tastes and Trends
Service Ideas - Get the Most Out of Your Coffee Service
Hoshizaki - Case Study: Bar Kismet, Halifax, Canada
Perlick - Bar Equipment and Design Magic
Manitowoc - A Q&A with Tobin Ellis, hospitality design and operations specialist, BarMagic of Las Vegas