It seems as if we were just sipping summer cocktails on a breezy patio, but with the leaves falling and temps cooling, it's already time to start planning for success during the holidays.

Many families and businesses start making plans and reservations months ahead of their celebrations, and when it comes to the holidays, crafting and promoting an irresistible beverage menu is essential to ringing in skyrocketing final quarter sales.

So now's the time to consider: In what ways will your bar program stand taller than the rest this season? Consider the tips below and you'll be toasting to primo profits by year's end.

Celebrate Sobriety

On-the-house plastic cups of diet cola will no longer appease today's more mindful drinking population. Research continues to show that non-alcoholic consumption is on the rise as younger generations imbibe less, and the "sober curious" movement gains popularity. According to one study, sales of non-alcoholic beverages increased by 33% in 2021. That means if you don't already have some quality NA offerings, now's the time to jump on the wagon.

Sober consumers still crave a fun experience, and today's NA market has more excitement and variety than ever. Go homemade by concocting a jammy cranberry-orange syrup out of fresh fruit, honey, and fall spices that can be shaken into numerous applications (Autumn Mule, anyone?). Curate a diverse lineup of non-alcoholic wine and craft beer, and even CBD seltzers or tepache to grab the attention of consumers scrolling social media for the most conscious establishments. Put NAs high on your promotional priorities instead of burying them on the back corner of your menu and you'll see an uptick in sales and new clientele that can't wait to come back.

Functional Mix-ins

Increased wellness awareness in 2022 has also catalyzed rapid growth of drinks that make health claims, known as functional beverages. These trending drinks that are fermented or infused with adaptogens — mood-boosting and stress-relieving botanicals and mushrooms — can be served as is or mixed into boozy cocktails with benefits.

It's estimated that probiotic beverages are expected to generate more than $77 billion in sales by 2025. Shrubs — elixirs fermented with fruit and a base of vinegar, are a great way to introduce fizzy probiotics to your guests, because a little goes a long way. Make an apple cinnamon shrub with cider vinegar and fresh fruit, for a healthy tonic that can punch up the flavor of a spiced rum fall cocktail. Water kefir is also a trending fermentable that bartenders are mixing into cocktails to make them probiotic. Whether purchased or homemade in batches behind the bar, its carbonation makes it an ideal cocktail topper, so skip the soda water and splash your winter sangria with water kefir instead!

Bartender, Meet Barista

Sure, we've probably all served an espresso martini, but in 2022 the bar is channeling its inner barista more than ever before with the resurgence of healthy, high-quality teas and organic, fair-trade coffee. A marriage of the two worlds results in spirited cocktails that serve as delightful apéritifs or decadent after-dinner drinks.

For your holiday menus, infuse a bottle of Campari with coarsely-ground coffee for up to 24 hours to enhance a traditional Negroni you can garnish with a candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate for a special holiday twist. Swirl your best peppermint schnapps into a steamed oat milk matcha latte in a mug rimmed with crushed peppermint candies that will have your guests pushing their dinner plates aside, ready for dessert in a glass.

School is in Session

During the pandemic, even the most novice of drinkers started building up their home bar and collecting all the fancy tools and accouterments. These days, of course folks want to get back out and socialize, but there's something special about stirring up drinks for your favorite people at home. Catch those people hosting gatherings at their own homes instead of your establishment by holding a cocktail class.

An interactive cocktail class provides booking opportunities for office holiday parties, family gatherings, or even couples looking for a fun indoor date night. Make your students feel like they have VIP access by teaching them some tricks of the trade; even share a famous recipe or two. Send them home with a cocktail kit they can use at their own home, while still making sure your brand is always on their mind. Try a dropper bottle full of your own house pumpkin bitters; a homemade cranberry shrub they can add to their own cocktails; a logoed snifter or rocks glass; and don't forget a coupon towards their next visit to bring them back!

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