DI Annual Bar Report: How we did it

09 January, 2017

The Drinks International Annual Bar Report looks to gauge the buying habits of the best bars in the world by conducting a survey of their owners, head bartenders and bar managers.

The bars that took part – what we refer to as the best bars in the world – are a sample of those that finished in the top 250 places of the World’s 50 Best Bars survey, now owned by William Reed Business Media. Given the depth and scope of The World’s 50 Best Bars poll (voted for by 476 global bar experts) we feel this is the most credible place to source our sample of bars.

The aim, as ever, is to collect enough completed questionnaires to form a large enough body of results from which analysis can be drawn, at the same time as not diluting the quality of the sample. This research is niche by design – we are not interested in knowing the buying habits of bars that might be considered in the top few thousand, more so the inner circle of influencers.

So which bars took part? Our first port of call is to contact those in the top 50. This year 30 of the 50 took part. From there we contacted bars that finished in positions 51-250, to achieve a sample which numbered at least 100.

Also of importance is the geographical spread of those polled. Where a bar is based clearly has some bearing on buying habits, and we have ensured that our sample approximately represents the geographical spread of the world’s best bars.

You’ll see from the chart that 45% of the sample are European bars, which may on the surface seem Europe-heavy, but the European contingent of the top 250 bars from the World’s 50 Best Bars poll was 41%. Likewise, 23% of our sample was from Asia and 21% from North America, which is also roughly representative.

In each instance we asked the bartender to rank their three best selling products in each category, giving us an indication of the brands that are selling best.

As we know, a best selling brand, even in the best bars in the world, earns its place on more than taste, so we also wanted to know the brands that are not necessarily doing huge volumes but have cool-appeal right now. This is where the Trending brands come in. These are the brands customers are increasingly asking for, perhaps because of word of mouth, or even on bartenders’ recommendations.

Often the brands that figure highly in the Trending top 10 lists, move on to the Best Selling list the following year, as curiosity and excitement transitions to wider appeal.

The Bartenders’ Choice list is where we see what bartenders themselves prize most, irrespective of what sells best or what is trending. So brands found here have the kudos of bartender love, if not necessarily sales.

We’ve been running a poll of bars for eight years now, so can also see which brands have consistently dominated their categories over a period of time. These All-Time lists tend to feature those brands that have invested in trade partnerships over the long term, rather than those that have a moment in the sun.

For the World’s 50 Best Selling Classics list, we asked respondents to rank their top 10 selling classic cocktails. This list is a slow-moving beast, but over time we hope it provides a record of how even those cocktails considered classic come in and out of fashion over time.

With 108 bars surveyed, the Drinks International Annual Bar Report is by no means an exhaustive study, but more a snapshot of the buying choices leading bartenders made during 2016. It’s interesting, even with a yearly shifting sample of the world’s best bars, that the results remain relatively consistent.

Elite bartenders, we might surmise, tend to have a similar mentality, no matter where they are in the world. So, if this report is anything, it is an insight into the thinking behind the most influential buyers in the global drinks industry.   

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