Alcohol revival

In recent years, health-conscious consumers have been fueling the steady parade of alcohol-free bars and sophisticated mocktails while turning away from alcohol. In a rapid reversal from the teetotal movement, alcohol sales are on the rise as consumers indulge in their desire for escape or entertainment.

Alcohol sales have soared in the wake of COVID-19. According to Nielsen, during the crisis, sales at New York City’s liquor stores increased by more than 20%. For the week from March 8 to 14, 2020, sales of wine and spirits were nearly 28% higher, while beer, cider and malt drinks sales were 14% higher. Alcohol delivery sales are growing at an astonishing rate. Eater reports online wine marketplace Vivino clocked a record in March 2020 with 300% growth internationally. Sales at the Drizly Online Liquor Store also rose by 300% in March 2020 compared to earlier this year. Gary’s Wine & Marketplace likewise experienced a 300% rise in local deliveries across its five locations throughout New Jersey and California.

Craft cocktails are now easier to get during quarantine, thanks to the easing of liquor laws. To meet the growing demand–while simultaneously offering a lifeline to restaurants and bars amid forced closures–restrictions on alcohol sales are being slackened across the country. Restaurants and bars in many states can now sell drinks on the go thanks to new “off premises privileges”. These include New York, California, and Texas.

Bars are focusing on takeout and delivery to capitalize on the new relaxed laws. The list of bars that sell cocktails on the go is growing. They include Employees Only, a West Hollywood institution; Attaboy, a speakeasy in Manhattan with a long history; Leyenda, Brooklyn’s James Beard-nominated bar; Existing Conditions, a New York City hotspot; and True Laurel, a trendy San Francisco restaurant endorsed by Michelin. The restaurants are also joining in the fun, adding beer and wine to their takeout options. Bars and restaurants get creative in states that still don’t allow takeout cocktails, like Illinois, Washington, and Massachusetts. Bartenders are creating DIY cocktail kits that don’t contain alcohol so customers can make their favorite drinks.

Tom Sopit, co-owner of Employees Only and manager at Eater, said: “It is a stressful period for everyone. People are already stir-crazy.” We saw the news yesterday regarding the Japanese trend where friends drink together online.

In the midst of a pandemic, health considerations remain a top priority. Consumers don’t want their health to be compromised by drinking. Orange juice, a vitamin-C-rich mixer and a powerhouse of vitamin C is also in high demand. According to AxiCorp, prices will increase by 20% by March 2020. The company also had to make a public announcement after the “quarantini cocktail” became wildly popular. Some versions contained Emergen-C, an immune booster.

Will this permanently reverse teetotal trends? It remains to be determined what the long-term effect will be on the wellness obsession that has changed markets and industries. One thing is certain: The COVID-19 Crisis is forcing consumers to reconsider their values, and at the very minimum, it is driving a more tolerant approach to alcohol.

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