You’re planning your bar program and you know that the cocktail world is seeing a global renaissance, and this could also be said to be true in all sectors of the drinks world. Ready To Drink (RTD) canned and boxed products are a fast growing market segment, the natural wine movement is picking up steam alongside a global environmentally consciousness movement, whilst countries outside of Europe are rediscovering beer styles they left behind whilst falling in love with adjunct, mass produced lagers and light beers. If you’re stocking a bar, how much should you buy into these trends? And if so, how do you plan them into your bar program?

Amidst the changing landscape of the drinks world many things will stay the same, classics and favourites are, for their namesake, classics and favourites for a reason. In this piece we’re going to cover beer, wine and other beverages you’re considering for your bar program, and how they work together, as well as how they work with your bar and its theme.

The Importance of Knowing Your Market

We are all, be us in different countries or neighbouring villages, in different markets. Some will be microcosms of the wider world around them, others will be entirely independent of what is going on around them. So you need to keep your ear to the ground, locally and nationally, in order to match your customer’s demand. It’s all well and good stocking your bar with things that you like to drink, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else is into the same things. Like we said with “Balancing Your Liquor Shelves”, head out and do some field research in the segments below to find out what people in your area are drinking!


bartender pouring draft beer

Both of these elements of your beer offerings should complement each other in the sense that there should be no repeat products and that, combined, these segments should provide a well round list of options for your guests.

Draft Beer - How many taps you have will define what you’re offering. A national or international lager and/or pilsner is always going to be a staple on your draft lineup. A basic lineup of four taps usually consists of: a lager, a hoppy beer like an IPA, a pale ale, and a darker beer like a stout or a porter. Local is, again, key here, you may live in a region that has produced beer for centuries or one where craft breweries are popping up, either way the locals and any tourists that come through are going to be partial to a local tipple.

Bottled and Canned Beer - Bottles and cans allow you to extend your draft beer offerings. There are also some drinks which are preferred in a bottle or can by the consumer. Your previous beer experience at bars alongside your field research will help you decide what to stock in your beer fridge. Your offerings in your beer fridge are going to be constrained, on some occasions, by the space available in your fridge and in your stockroom. If you have a lot of refrigerator space you’ll be able to stock more of each beer you offer, if you have a small stockroom you may lack the space to store significant backups of a large variety of items. Take these considerations in mind when you’re choosing your beer lineup.


bartender pouring glass of white wine

In today’s world there are fantastic wines being produced around the planet, and old and new world wines are competing for space on wine lists in every corner of the globe. Depending on where you are in the world will depend on what you offer. If you’re in a wine growing country or region your offerings are going to be highly biased toward your region and country; so much that you might not even carry wines from elsewhere. Otherwise you may choose to showcase wines from around the world on your wine list. Below is a layout of what the average bar should look for as a base line when it comes to wine; but remember, none of this is set in stone.

White - You’re going to want a minimum of three offerings, with three different grapes and three different flavour profiles so as to give you variety. On a standard wine list you’ll probably find a chardonnay, a pinot grigio and a sauvignon blanc; and these will all be sold by the glass and by the bottle, often with other by the bottle offerings available also.

Red - The same as with white, two or three offering by the glass, three is often preferred. If just two is what you’re going to offer, a tannic varietal such as a merlot or cabernet sauvignon alongside a fruit driven or less tannic varietal, such as pinot noir or malbec is ideal. You can extend your glass offering and add by the bottle offerings as you see fit.

Rosé - Offer at least one rose and in the summer you may want to add another few to the list. If you’re going to offer one you have to choose between dry or sweet, if you offer two ensure that one is dry and the other sweet. Sparkling - Some serve splits but most will pour glasses from regular size bottles, as this is more cost and space effective when it comes to offering your house sparkler by the bottle. Only one is really needed by the glass here however having a few higher end sparkling wines on hand in bottle form for those that are in to celebrate is a good idea to consider.

Other Alcoholic Drinks

people drinking cider

This segment is growing as people are designing new and innovative products to capture consumer attention. Below are three of the most popular segments in this section for you to consider for your bar.

Cider - Cider is ages old and outside of its home in Europe it is beginning to grow in popularity. It is much more popular in the summer and, more often than not, is found offered by the bottle. There are dry, fruit forward and sweet ciders, as well as fruit based ciders for you to choose from. Did you see any of these on your field trip? Which kinds were they and how common were they? This will help you decide whether or not you’ll want to stock cider.

Alcopops - The popularity of these beverages waxes and wanes, yet as versions of these beverages aimed at the health conscious continue to emerge expect these to rise in popularity again. The drinkers of these beverages are very brand loyal so your field research will come in handy here.

Hard Seltzer - These are newcomers to the drinks market but their popularity is rising as people see them as lighter alternatives to the beers, wines and cocktails they usually consume. Again, drinkers of these beverages are very brand loyal so your field research is essential.

As you can see things differ according to your local and your target market, the seasons and a variety of other factors. This is why it is crucial to know your target and local audiences before finalising your plans for your bar program. The beauty of these items is that it is easy to grow your offering - on everything except draft beer - and your only real constraint is the amount of storage space you have available. Begin with a moderate selection and expand it as your business grows in popularity and once you’ve received some feedback from your customers.