Move over, pumpkin spice Latte. Americans' obsession for all things pumpkin has expanded to the cocktail bar.
Mentions of pumpkin on the alcoholic drinks menus at restaurants and bars are up 38.1 percent from last year, according to Datassential Menu Trends. Pumpkin beers are still the most likely find, but cocktails are gaining ground, fast: they're 550 percent more common than in 2010.
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"Certainly, the whole idea of seasonal spirits is really catching on," said Maeve Webster, senior director at Datassential. There's room for more growth. "Cocktails have an interesting opportunity to look beyond that usual pumpkin pie profile," she said, with more vegetal or savory notes, "so they're not just an also-ran with the pumpkin coffees."
Distillers are fueling the trend with a variety of pumpkin-flavored spirits, from the boldly spiced (Corsair Pumpkin Spice Moonshine, $40 for a 750-ml bottle) to slightly sweet (Cathead Pumpkin Spice Vodka, $25 for a 750-ml bottle) to pie-in-a-glass richness (Roundhouse Spirits Pumpkin King Cordial, $20 for a 375-ml bottle). Most of the entrants have hit the market in just the past year or two, said Jerald O'Kennard, director of the Beverage Testing Institute.
Playing to the pumpkin craze is a smart business move. "From a business point of view, a lot of hotels and bars change their drink lists seasonally," said Joseph Magliocco, president of Chatham Imports. The distributor's Crop Organic Vodka added a Spiced Pumpkin Vodka ($30 for a 750-ml bottle) last year in a bid for those fall menus, where its summery Meyer lemon- and cucumber-flavored vodkas were less likely to make the cut.