Takeout Alcohol Proves To Be A Hit With Gen Z And Millennials In New Report

Just a few years ago, if you wanted a six-pack of hard seltzers to go with your takeout noodles, you were swinging by the bodega on the way home. But, since the pandemic, to-go alcohol has transformed into an enduring mainstay in the food scene — and millennials and Gen Zers are largely to thank.

According to a recent report by the National Restaurant Association (NRA), more than 40% of Gen Z and millennial consumers have taken a spirited bevy onto their takeout orders in the past six months alone. Fifty-seven percent of millennials (born 1981-1996) are more likely to choose a restaurant based on its beer and wine list, making millennials the leading demographic to pick an eatery based on the availability of alcohol. Gen Z (born 1997-2012) is close behind with 45% operating the same way, even though Gen Z foodies tend to drink less than other generations on average. (Although, recent data shows that Gen Z is in the midst of a passionate red wine phase.)

This might sound counterintuitive in light of current economic conditions. The Food Industry Association has found that in light of grocery inflation, 76% of millennials say they're worried about the rising price of food, a 5% increase compared to one year ago, per the Associated Press. Still, even as U.S. consumers as a whole are dining out less and increasingly cutting corners on groceries, takeaway alcohol sales have remained robust.

Trendsetting consumers and the future of to-gos

To-go alcohol kept countless bars and restaurants afloat during the pandemic, and it could continue to be a reliable lifeline for still-struggling restaurants – at least 1,000 of which are anticipated to close across America by the end of the year. About 43% of adults told the NRA that they'd be more likely to visit a particular establishment over and over again if they carried a drink they liked for to-go orders. Profit margins for restaurant spirits sales clock in around 75% for beer and 60-70% for wine.

In some ways, these findings build on what the National Restaurant Association observed in its State of the Restaurant Industry report last year. Younger consumers serve as a barometer of restaurant trends to come, and in the 2022 survey, more than six in 10 millennials and about seven in 10 Gen Zers said the option to order alcohol impacted whether they would make a takeout order, per Restaurant Business. Looking forward, takeout alcohol sales are anticipated to see a consistent 17% year-over-year increase through 2026.