Beverage alcohol retailers anticipate high octane trends to accelerate this summer for spirits-based RTDs, Tequilas, and rosé wines. With inflation still biting, consumers will be hunting for deals. “Value-driven wines are going to be the focus this summer,” says Glen Knight, owner of The Wine House in Los Angeles. “Hearty Cabernets from Paso Robles, Rhône values from France, great Riojas from Spain for summer BBQs, and, of course, Provence rosés.”
The Wine House is well stocked with 2022 Château Routas Coteaux Varois en Provence Rosé ($16 a 750-ml.); 2022 Love by Léoube Côtes de Provence Rosé ($24 a 750-ml.); and 2021 McPrice Myers Bull by the Horns Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($22). Knight also has high expectations this summer for 2021 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Selection Côtes-du-Rhône Mon Coeur ($22) and 2016 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Edición Limitada ($30).
In Texas, spirits-based RTDs and high-end Tequilas are leading growth trends into the summer. “Spirits-based RTDs will continue to outpace most other categories,” says Eric Dohanich, vice president of operations and business development at the 96-unit Twin Liquors in Texas. “Nütrl cocktails ($17 an eight-pack of 12-ounce cans) are showing exceptional growth. High Noon ($11 a four-pack of 12-ounce cans) continues to lead the market with double- to triple-digit growth. Premium and ultra-premium Tequilas are growing and outpacing lower priced brands.”
Tequilas, mezcals and Bourbons are also trending strong at The Wine House, albeit not quite like 2020 and 2021. “Tequilas, mezcals, and Bourbons are still moving at a great pace, as supply is still an issue,” Knight explains. “We’re having to buy when we can. When a distributor gets that great Tequila in, we need to act quickly before they run out. We don’t see these categories slowing down this summer.”
Popular high-end brands at Knight’s store include G4 Blanco Tequila ($49 a 750-ml.), 2022 Tequila Ocho Single Estate El Nacimiento Reposado ($60), and El Jolgorio Pechuga mezcal ($145). New Riff Distilling Single Barrel Straight Bourbon whiskey ($52) and Frank August Small Batch Bourbon ($90) are also big sellers for the Los Angeles retailer. “We also see a huge impact with people coming in to make Espresso Martinis and White Negronis again this summer,” Knight says.
In Miami, meanwhile, natural wines continue gaining popularity. “I see customers buying a lot of natural wines — sometimes a whole case (12-pack of 750-ml. bottles) — and also a lot of craft lagers and pilsners,” says Andrew Mendez, vice president of operations at the three Mendez Fuel convenience stores in Miami. “Gulp/Hablo Orange Wine ($20 a liter) is still moving really well, and new brands that are doing well include Las Jaras Superbloom rosé ($28 a 750-ml.) and Meinklang Prosa sparkling rosé ($23 a 750-ml.). Rosés are also taking off now and so are sparkling whites and rosés.”
Fast-moving beer brands include St. Petersburg, Florida’s Green Bench Brewing ($13 a six-pack of 12-ounce cans), Doral, Florida’s Tripping Animals ($13 a four-pack of 16-ounce cans), and Mexico’s Monopolio ($13 a six-pack of 12-ounce cans). “IPAs are also still popular,” Mendez says. “Six Point Resin ($14 a six-pack of 12-ounce cans) is one of my top-selling IPAs.”
Many customers come into the store to grab 19-ounce and 24-ounce cans of beer and hard seltzer. The 19-ounce can is a big seller of IPAs, especially Voodoo Ranger Atomic Citrus ($4). White Claw in 24-ounce cans ($4) are also a customer favorite. “The hard seltzers are continuing to move very well for me,” Mendez says. “High Noon ($5 a 24-ounce can) is doing really well and sometimes a customer will buy 10 singles at a time.”
Mendez had a tough time keeping large single-serve cans in stock last summer, but says the supply chain appears back to pre-COVID normal. He has also noticed a new pre-mixed cocktail appearing on the fast track. “We need to keep an eye on Sabé, a sake-based drink ($4.29 a 250-ml. can). It plays on the fine line because it’s 14% abv,” he says. “Many retailers don’t have it, so a lot of people are coming into my store for it. They do a Moscow Mule, Mojito, and Margarita. I see an uptick on it. It’s expensive, but you get your money’s worth. Sabé is the new hot pre-made cocktail.”
With the summer of 2023 officially here, retailers and the industry appear ready to meet demand. “I’m hoping it will be the same as last summer because we did well,” Mendez says. “April was a bad month for us. We had no gas for almost a week throughout South Florida because the port flooded. May is picking up but things might be a little slower than last summer. People are a little tighter with their wallets.”