Friday, November 30, 2007

Craft Beer, Signature Cocktails and Organic Wine Top List of Restaurant Beverage Trends, National Restaurant Association Research Finds

ew National Restaurant Association research shows that alcohol is among the hottest culinary trends in restaurants. A survey of more than 1,000 professional chefs -- American Culinary Federation members -- ranks craft beer, energy drink cocktails, martinis, mojitos, artisan liquors, organic wine and specialty beer in the top 20 trends. In addition to cocktails and bar drinks, alcohol is also used as an ingredient in cooking and as part of meals and menus through food-alcohol pairings.

"While wine, beer and spirits have always been part of the culinary arts and restaurant menus, specialty alcohol is increasingly popular right now," said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the Association. "As American diners are growing increasingly sophisticated, adult beverages can be an important part of both recipes and meals. Alcohol tasting menus, or flights, are served by more restaurants, and pairing beer and wine with complementary flavors on your plate can very much enhance the dining experience. Our new International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event next spring will highlight all of these trends and allow restaurateurs to explore new ways to please their guests' palates in both dining rooms and bar areas."

"Specialty alcohol, craft and specialty beer in particular, is a very hot trend," said Chef John Kinsella, CMC, CCE, AAC, President of the American Culinary Federation and senior chef instructor at Midwest Culinary Institute in Cincinnati. "Organic wine is also very popular now, and ties into the overall growing trend of organic foods. I'm also seeing additional, innovative culinary uses of alcohol now, including flavoring items with alcohol essence, like we currently are developing with chardonnay-, cabernet- and merlot-flavored iced teas for example."

The overall top trends in culinary uses of alcohol are signature cocktails, closely followed by deglazing/reductions/sauces, food-beer parings and beer sommeliers, as well as food-wine pairings and wine sommeliers.

Conducted in October 2007, the Association's "What's Hot... What's Not" survey asked 1,282 chefs (members of the American Culinary Federation) to rate 194 individual food/beverage items, cuisines and preparation methods as "hot," "cool/passe," or "perennial favorites." The survey reveals that the hottest menu trends include -- in addition to adult beverages -- bite-size desserts and small plates, alternative source ingredients (such as organics, local produce, sustainable seafood, grass-fed and free-range items, and alternative red meats), and ethnic cuisines and flavors.

In this second annual survey, types of alcohol ranked high on the list of cool/passe items -- items that used to be hot trends, but are not anymore -- include fruit/flavored wine, vermouth, mescal and rose/blush wine.

Next year, the National Restaurant Association will debut the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event -- the industry's first and only professional event focused exclusively on beverage alcohol. The Event will highlight vintners, distillers and brewers in exhibits, food-alcohol pairing demonstrations, and education programming focused on trends in alcohol, and will be held May 19-20, 2008, in conjunction with the 2008 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Motel-Motel Show(R). For more information, visit

As the restaurant and hospitality industry's leading trade show, the 2008 Show will offer first-hand opportunities to experience and explore food and beverage trends. The Show's 2,100+ exhibiting companies will provide a window to the future of the restaurant industry, including food and beverage items, innovative equipment and technology. In addition, the Show will feature top culinary competitions, celebrity chefs, and culinary-focused educational opportunities unparalleled by any other industry event. The 2008 Show will be held May 17-20 at McCormick Place in Chicago. For more information, visit

For full 2007 "What's Hot... What's Not" survey results -- and other consumer and menu trends -- visit the Association's Web site at .

The National Restaurant Association, founded in 1919, is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which is comprised of 935,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a work force of 12.8 million employees -- making it the cornerstone of the economy, career opportunities and community involvement. Along with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Association works to represent, educate and promote the rapidly growing industry. For more information, visit our Web site at

The American Culinary Federation, Inc., established in 1929, is the premier professional organization for culinarians in North America. With nearly 20,000 members spanning more than 230 chapters nationwide, ACF is the culinary leader in offering educational resources, training, apprenticeship and accreditation. In addition, ACF operates the most comprehensive certification program for chefs in the United States. ACF is home to ACF Culinary Team USA, the official representative for the United States in major international culinary competitions, and also holds the presidium for the World Association of Chefs Societies, the largest international network of chef associations with more than eight million members globally. For more information, please visit

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