by Holly Rogers

3 must-haves for an on-trend drinks menu

3 must-haves for an on-trend drinks menu
This latest blog in our 2023 Food and Drink Trends series is all about the trending drinks for 2023, and what operators should consider to ensure their drinks menu truly hits the mark with consumers.

We all know that the eating out market is a particularly challenging landscape for operators to navigate at the moment. So, we’re conscious that Food and Drink Trends might not seem such a priority. Let’s be honest… for many businesses, it’s enough just focusing on keeping their head above water.

However, with consumers’ purse strings only getting tighter, they’re more critical than ever when deciding where to eat out and how to part with their cash. On top of this, innovation in the foodservice market continues and competition remains high. Delivery services and other technology mean eating out is so much more accessible, and the choices consumers are faced with are almost endless!

All of this means that it’s absolutely imperative that operators hit the mark with menus and give consumers something they truly value. That’s why we, together with CGA by NielsenIQ, put so much work into coming up with the key trends shaping eating and drinking out in 2023.


Our 6 key Food and Drink Trends for 2023 are:

  • Pizza – the popularity of pizza grows from strength to strength, fuelled by innovation
  • Flavours Less Travelled – emerging cuisines slightly off the beaten path
  • Retro Love – bringing a touch of nostalgia to food and drink
  • Conscious Choices – how mindful consumers are changing their ways
  • Nature’s Gifts – consumers and chefs embrace more natural ingredients
  • In the Spirit – all about the alcoholic drinks taking the market by storm.


One thing we’ve noticed over recent months is that as well as cutting down on spending, many consumers are looking to moderate their alcohol intake – and that’s if they haven’t already. And whilst Mindful Drinking has largely been associated with younger adults in recent years, we’re seeing more and more people making changes to their diets to lead a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.

But this not bad news for the drinks industry and operators! In reality, the growing moderation trend actually provides opportunities for operators to premiumise and upsell with alcoholic drinks, as it’s arguably even more important that the drinks people do have when they’re out, feel worth it!

So let’s take a look at what people want to see on menus…


In terms of spirits, it’s all about rum and tequila this year

…as they take the out of home market by storm.

Both spirits have grown in value share of the out of home market since 2021, whilst the historical gin boom has begun to decline**.

Why is this? Well, we do know that consumers are increasingly looking for something a bit different when they go out, as this helps justify their spend. So, it might be that they’re changing it up and experimenting with new drinks that they wouldn’t typically drink at home.

The versatility of both spirits also works in their favour, with both tequila and rum being enjoyed as standalone drinks, with mixers, and as main ingredients in cocktails. In fact, Matt Towe, Head of Unity Wines, Beers and Spirits suggested that rum’s use in cocktails is a major reason for its recent rise in popularity. So, both spirits appeal to a wide range of demographics and suit almost any occasion. As well as this, there’s a huge range of types and brands of both, meaning you can always be adventurous!

I recently asked Matt Towe, Head of Unity Wines, Beers and Spirits, what he thought about these trending spirits and what the future looks like for them. Here’s what he had to say about rum….


“Let’s be honest, as the oldest spirit in the world, it’s about time rum took centre stage! We’re expecting a replication of what the Gin market has done so well with flavoured rums barging their way into the category. Brands like Dead Man’s Fingers are already getting a head start here by introducing exciting flavours like mango, passionfruit, cherry and banana. We expect the Rum Liqueur range to also evolve with lower ABV versions and, again, more exciting flavours. Adding to this, we expect to see further growth from the premium sipping end. Established brands like Diplomatico are enjoying good growth and brands such as Six Saints – which we are proud to bring into our range – will offer value and choice at the top end of the market.”


And when it comes to tequila…

“Whilst there will be some growth on the flavoured tequila liqueur market here with brands like El Sueno, this category is likely to be driven heavily by the premium end. Brands such as Patron have made superb footmark in the UK over recent years and I’d expect this to grow. But, most excitingly in the world of tequila… the category’s growth should bring mezcal centre stage. This sub-category brings bags of stories and heritage, which we know UK consumers love! With mezcal typically being a smokier style of drink, whisky drinkers could be swayed to trying this category – and given the current shortage of single malt driving whisky prices to dizzying heights, it’s possible we’ll see some further cross-category interest here!”


When it comes to cocktails, consumers are loving a signature version.

In fact, 2 in 5 UK adults recently said that if they’re out for a cocktail, they’d almost always opt for a Signature Serve if there was one on offer*.

Why are they so popular? Again, with people looking for something unique and novel, a signature serve definitely feels more exclusive and it’s not something consumers would necessarily replicate at home.

With staff levels and resource being a key issue for operators at the moment, it’s important to consider that signature cocktails don’t always have to be complicated. And you certainly don’t need to re-write the drinks menu! Subtle twists like an unexpected ingredient swap in a classic cocktail recipe, or even fun names on menus that’ll capture people’s interest and get them talking. They’re sure to provide a good Instagram opportunity too – which we know is important these days!

Here the alcohol trends in 2023 in action: 


And finally… non-alcoholic alternatives.

No longer a second thought for operators; they’ve become a drinks menu must-have. 13% of under 35s now typically drink non-alcoholic alternatives when they go out***. This might not seem like a huge proportion, but that’s well over 1 in 10 people opting for them on a regular basis. But as I mentioned earlier, it’s not just the under 35s that are regularly swerving the booze these days. We’ve seen that amongst 18-55s, engagement with non-alcoholic alternatives has over doubled since August 2020****!

Innovation in the alcohol-free space is rapidly growing, meaning consumers can almost replicate the drinking experience – whether it’s beer, cider, wine or spirits they’re looking for. And it also means operators can get creative with menus. Alcohol-free cocktails and spirits can provide a much more premium experience than a standard soft drink. You could even include them in set menus or food and drink pairings to encourage consumers to try them out and capture the interest of those choosing not to drink.


If you’re interested in learning more about our 2023 Food and Drink Trends, our interactive guide is full of bespoke research, hints and tips on how you could implement the trends, recipe inspiration from our Food Development team at Bidfood as well as product recommendations. Discover our latest Food and Drink Trends 2024.




* CGA Trading Index, quarter ending 23/04/22

**CGA Mixed Drinks Report, sample size 1,004

***CGA BrandTrack April 2022, sample size 5,022

****CGA Proprietary Data, sample size 2,003 (UK adults)

Back to Top