Alcohol To-Go Isn’t Going Away

Alcohol to-go started as a lifeline for restaurants to stay afloat during the pandemic. Since then, it’s become a permanent fixture around the United States, presenting a massive growth opportunity for businesses.

According to a new report from the National Restaurant Association, 62% of millennials and 52% of Gen Z adults say they would be more likely to order from a restaurant that offers alcohol to-go over one that doesn’t.

And with 20 states and Washington, D.C. making alcohol to-go a permanent regulation change—and another 14 states extending the emergency measure on a long-term, but temporary basis—enterprising restaurant operators have plenty of room to grow.

Here are key findings from the association’s report:

Younger consumers are driving demand for alcohol to-go.

The younger generations order alcohol to-go more often. Some 44% of Gen Z adults and 42% of millennials say they added an alcohol beverage to a takeout or delivery order from a restaurant within the last 6 months. Meanwhile, only 19% of Gen Xers and 7% of baby boomers included alcohol with their orders.

Consumers are thirsty for more alcohol to-go options.

“Consumers are not even close to being oversaturated with alcohol beverage choices on off-premise menus,” the report’s authors wrote.

Among all adults who drink wine, beer, or cocktails when dining out at a restaurant, 61% say they want more alcohol beverage choices to pair with their takeout or delivery orders. Among millennials and Gen Z adults, that number increases to more than 3 in 4.

Beer is most commonly offered, but wine has a lot of potential.

While beer is the option you’re most likely to find on a restaurant’s to-go menu, wine by the glass is much less common, though the demand is there.

Roughly 4 in 10 full-service restaurants that offer alcohol to-go have wine by the glass available. Meanwhile, among wine drinkers who want the option to order a glass with their takeout or delivery, 65% say they’d order a red, 57% would opt for white, and 47% would choose rosé.

Many consumers may not realize alcohol to-go is available.

Even when alcohol to-go is offered, only 24% of adults who ordered takeout or delivery in the last 6 months included alcohol in their order. And yet, 54% of all adults say the option to include alcohol with their delivery order would make them more likely to choose one restaurant over another.

This discrepancy indicates that a large swath of consumers may be unaware that alcohol to-go is an option. To bridge the gap, restaurant operators may consider strategically displaying alcohol beverages on their delivery menus in a spot where customers are guaranteed to take notice.