In the six months since we published our 2016 industry review, we’ve done a variety of drilldowns into bar & restaurant trends.

We’ve taken regional looks at the most popular beer and liquor brands in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, Florida, and Texas. We’ve examined average pour costs for 28 classic cocktails. We’ve even taken a look at the most popular draft beers and cocktails.

Now that we’re halfway through 2017, we decided to revisit our 2016 report to see which beer and spirit brands are ordered the most by on-premises establishments. Here’s what the data shows.

The following material aggregates alcoholic beverage order data from U.S. BevSpot users during the first six months of 2017. These BevSpot users represent bars & restaurants numbering in the high triple-digits, located in 43 states plus the District of Columbia. All figures represent percentages of orders in dollar terms.


Beverage Categories

In general, we’ve found that BevSpot users tend to have beverage programs that are beer and liquor-heavy. Order data on our platform will tend to be more representative of preferences for those product categories than of wine. As a result, we’ll be drilling down into the most popular beer and liquor brands.


Beer

In our 2016 rankings, Harpoon was ranked sixth, and Sam Adams ninth. Boston is the only metro where Harpoon is widely available; this shows the skew towards our home city in past rankings. This is less true of 2017—Harpoon has slipped to tenth, and Sam Adams to thirteenth.

Miller and Corona have switched places from 2016. Miller is a top-selling brand nationally, especially in the Midwest; it’s more than twice as popular in Chicago as everywhere else. Its ascension likely points to an influx of Midwestern users than a change in preferences.


Spirit Categories

The rising popularity of whiskey in an industry long dominated by vodka is well-documented. This is especially true of younger consumers, a demographic that drives on-premise consumption, particularly in major cities.

This is reflected in on-premise liquor consumption. At 28% of spirit orders among BevSpot users, whiskey accounts for five percentage points more of this market than vodka does.

A Special Note on Tequila & Mezcal

Though tequila & mezcal haven’t seen any growth in their share of BevSpot spirit orders since 2016, this may be about to change. The Distilled Spirits Council, for example, has observed strong domestic tequila sales growth, particularly on the premium side of the market. This is worth watching, as a possible explosion of craft tequila is on the horizon.


Overall Spirit Brands

While whiskey is the most popular spirit type among BevSpot users, the immense popularity of Tito’s among vodka brands means that it’s also the most popular liquor brand overall. It’s one of five vodka brands among the twelve most-ordered spirit brands; of the other seven, five are mainly associated with whiskey, and two with tequila.


Whiskey

Two shifts have occurred among the most popular whiskeys. The first is the reclassification of Fireball as a whiskey, pushing Four Roses out of the top. Fireball’s parent company, Sazerac, is positioning both brands against other whiskeys in a bid to join this growing segment. In this context, it’s more appropriate to frame Fireball as a whiskey, not as a liqueur as before.

The other shift occurred with Bulleit and Crown Royal, which have switched places. Crown Royal has lost some share of orders. (The brands were within a percentage point in 2016.)


Vodka

Our rankings for the most popular vodka brands haven’t changed as much as our whiskey ones have. Tito’s, which accounted for just over 25% of BevSpot vodka orders in 2016, has intensified its market share to over 27%.

Deep Eddy and Stolichnaya, meanwhile, trade positions from 2016; they’re ranked at fifth and sixth, respectively.


Tequila and Mezcal

Corazon, Maestro Dobel, and Milagro have fallen out of the top seven tequila brands for 2017 so far. In their stead we find Espolon, Casamigos, and Agavales.

A select segment of BevSpot users have a particularly strong sway over tequila brand preferences in particular; Patron is the only brand that leads the market for a broad range of bars. Expect non-dominant tequila brands, then, to compete heavily on perceived brand and product quality among trendsetting consumers.


Cordials and Liqueurs

The Cordial & Liqueur segment is diverse, which is why the top brands here are able to coexist with similar market shares (compare this to vodka, where products are apparently comparable enough that purchasers can shift to a dominant few brands).

With the exception of Jagermeister, all the products here are popular as ingredients in certain classic cocktails. Their revenues are likely dependent on the popularity of those cocktails.


Rum

Myers’s and Brugal rum, which ranked sixth and seventh respectively in our top seven rums for 2016, fall out of the rankings for 2017 so far. New to the top seven are Cruzan and Privateer rum, both of which were just outside of the top seven last year.


Gin

The top seven gin brands in 2017 so far haven’t changed much from those of 2016. Ford’s, previously the eighth-ranked brand, has leapfrogged Plymouth and Citadelle to claim sixth place. Previously sixth-ranked brand Citadelle, meanwhile, has fallen behind both Ford’s and Plymouth, losing its place in the top seven entirely.

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