See the alcoholic beverages trending on menus throughout the United States. From beer to wine and cocktails, we’ll explore what’s hot.

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TRENDSPOTTING ON U.S. MENUS:
CBD EMERGES ACROSS RESTAURANT MENUS

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

CBD PIQUES CONSUMERS’ INTEREST AS A FUNCTIONAL INGREDIENT

The purported relaxation benefit of CBD (cannabidiol) aligns with a greater industry trend of new plant-based products and menu items geared toward relaxation. Some 29% of consumers associate the attribute “relaxing” with CBD, and 24% of consumers associate the attribute “healthy” with CBD. Younger consumers seem to be redefining health and wellness to include certain ingredients and products that help the body and mind with specific, targeted functions, such as sleep.

SLIPPERY LEGAL FOOTING PRESENTS CHALLENGES FOR CBD

Since the Federal Farm Bill passed in 2018, which legalized hemp consumption and industrial production, hemp-derived CBD has proliferated on restaurant menus across the US. The current FDA guidelines state: “It is a prohibited act to introduce or deliver for introduction into interstate commerce any food (including any animal food or feed) to which THC or CBD has been added.” Despite the lack of approval from the FDA and the bans in several states, many restaurants are still adding CBD-infused items to their menus.

CBD MAKES A SPLASH
ON BEVERAGE MENUS

Consumers tend to be the most open to trying new ingredients in beverages, so it makes sense that CBD and CBD oil have started appearing on beverage menus first. Top Beverage Types with CBD include cocktails, coffee, tea and mocktails. Smoothies are also a growing type to watch.

Top MMI beverage types containing CBD oil

Tea CBD Flavors

#1
Cocktail

Tea CBD Flavors

#2
Coffee

Tea CBD Flavors

#3
Herbal Tea

Tea CBD Flavors

#4
Non-alcoholic Mocktail

YOUNG CONSUMERS DRIVE CBD ON MENUS

Younger consumers in particular drive interest in functional beverage ingredients, including CBD.

17%

of consumers are interested in coffee with CBD, and this rises to 21% and 23% among Gen Z and Millennials, respectively

19%

of Millennials would be motivated to try an unfamiliar
ingredient or flavor at a restaurant if it has a functional benefit

22%

of Millennials and 19% of Gen Zers say they would try a mocktail
or non-alcoholic cocktail if it had relaxation benefits like CBD

Base: 1,575 internet users aged 18+ who have purchased any coffee or tea drink from a food-service location in the past three months; 2,000 internet users aged 22+; 1,876 internet users aged 18+ who have dined out in the past three months Source: Lightspeed/Mintel

CBD BEVERAGE TYPES ON THE MENU

CBD SPARKLING WATER

While technically a CPG product, Dram’s Lemongrass and Gingergrass CBD sparkling waters are available for sale at The Denver Central Market food hall.

CBD COFFEE

Denver’s Carbon Cafe & Bar serves a nitro cold brew coffee infused with CBD oil. Features a 30-milligram dosage per 12-ounce portion.

CBD COCKTAIL

At Plant Miami in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, Plant Medicine cocktail, made with dark rum, fresh pineapple, coconut milk, lemongrass, clove and CBD oil.

CBD TEA

Chiya Chai in Chicago offers organic CBD in any chai beverage or cocktail for an additional $0.50.

CBD SMOOTHIE

At the Green Goddess Café in Stowe, Vermont, the Jamaican Me Shake includes CBD oil, tropical fruit, spinach, avocado, organic apple juice and whipped cream.

OTHER CBD MENU APPLICATIONS
TO WATCH

Some of the most common ways CBD is being used in food today are in sauces and condiments (both sweet and savory); in indulgent menu items prevalent in fast food, such as burgers or fries; in desserts and baked goods; and in comfort food items, such as meatballs and tater tots.

CBD Applications

BURGER LTO AT FAST FOOD CHAIN

On April 20, 2019, Carl’s Jr. became the first national restaurant chain to menu a food item with CBD. For that day only at one unit in Denver, CO, a Rocky Mountain High burger featured 5mg of CBD extract in the burger’s Santa Fe sauce.

PLANT BASED BURGER AND BURGER BOWLS AT LSR

Illegal Burger in Denver offers CBD on the menu, including a CBD infused plant-based burger and a burger bowl LTO for 4/20.

FULL SERVICE WITH CBD SWEET TREATS

Chicago-based Chit Chat (located beneath Swill Inn) is a restaurant and bar that serves honey-battered doughnut holes with CBD-infused Hershey’s chocolate dipping sauce.

CAREFULLY CONSIDER DOSING

Restaurants must also give ample consideration to CBD dosage in their menu items, and how they’re conveying these doses to consumers. Higher CBD concentrations can help reduce the flavor effects of the oil or CBD carrier itself, but when it comes to the actual recommended dosing, operators don’t have a rule book to follow. CBD oil is also not inherently water-soluble, making it challenging to formulate with beverages. Without solubility, CBD’s bioavailability becomes very low and, essentially, so does its purported functions and benefits. Young American is addressing the solubility issue with a powdered CBD isolate. However, a CBD isolate is purported not to be as effective as a full-spectrum cannabidiol. Clearly, there are many unknowns around CBD in foodservice so far, and operators will want to tread very carefully. Adriaen Block is now permanently shuttered following the New York City CBD ban; such is the risk of opening a CBD-focused concept.

*Source: Mintel