What Happened in Vegas, Part I

by Jon Ellms

Rick, James, Sam and I are wrapping up our first trip to the Bar and Nightclub Show in Las Vegas. We joined thousands of industry professionals to stay on top of the trends and technology driving customer experiences in bars, nightclubs, and restaurants worldwide.


Like our trip to Euroshop in 2017, we went to learn what's new and what guests like the most. And we go to get inspired and recharged. 

It's been a great trip! We met successful and aspiring entrepreneurs, hundreds of heavily-bearded bartenders, industry consultants, and a wild bunch of exhibitors selling the latest and greatest in technology, promotions, equipment, and just silly stuff. There were equipment demonstrations, cocktail competitions, and nightclub tours.

And very little sleep.

James, Kylie, Rick and I hit the show floor. Sam was hanging out at the cocktail competition.

James, Kylie, Rick and I hit the show floor. Sam was hanging out at the cocktail competition.

We learned that vodka sales are down globally, but up slightly in the US. Brown drinks are trending up - big time - and that the Moscow Mule made the biggest jump in market share in 2017.  Margaritas remain the number #1 cocktail in US restaurants and bars.

In 2017, the top five craft beers lost market share, but smaller craft brewers flourished, and the whole category grew at a good clip, especially among millennials .... who - despite being fans of craft beer - also drink a lot of mass-produced American beer!

And wine? Research shows that yet again, merlot, chardonnay, white zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, and pinot noir top most people's lists when dining/drinking out. Really exciting is the popularity of fine wine among consumers 25-34 years old. 

The next frontier? As states decriminalize the drug, cannabis is finding its way into cocktails, especially in New York and LA. Slowly. State liquor laws and safety concerns around pot's interaction with alcohol are the two biggest obstacles to more widespread use.

Want a deeper dive? Check out some of the slides we saw this morning ... (and saving yourself the $7,500 fee they charge for the full research report!)

In our next post, we'll share higlights from the trade show floor. The new, the cool, and the wacky ... from LED trees to fake snow to automated hookah pipes...