Season’s greetings from Beverage Industry. After a crazy year, consumers are getting into the holiday “spirit” by gathering with family and friends at home and at their favorite restaurants and bars.

To find out what folks could be drinking on- and off-premise, Bill Edwards, senior vice president of national accounts for on-premise at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, advises to “buy early and buy often” when it comes to the high demand for the fizziness of Champagne amid some supply chain challenges.

He notes that premium tequila continues to outpace value brands, and the explosion of the ready-to-drink (RTD) and ready-to-serve categories will remain hot during the holidays and beyond.

“The hottest category continues to be agave,” Edwards says. “Everything agave is on fire, including mezcal and tequila. You’ll find more bartenders swapping out standard spirits for a tequila-based spirit in classic cocktails (like the Negroni). It plays well with everyone when it comes to mixing.”

Sparkling wines, anything with bubbles, also is tickling consumers’ fancy.

In fact, Brut sparkling wines are dominating the market, accounting for 33% of global revenue share until 2021, Fact.MR states. Europe is a global sparkling wine hotspot, generating an opportunity worth $5 billion.

“Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, eCommerce sales of sparkling wine [around 20% share through 2021] have set new records owing to the surge in residential consumption of wine. Also, [an] emerging trend of consuming Champagne and wine at casual occasions will garner the future demand,” a Fact.MR senior research analyst said in a statement.

The market research firm prognosticates sales of sparkling wines to be valued at $43 billion in the United States by the end of the year. For the 2021-2031 forecast period, sparkling wines are expected to grow at a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7% reaching $84.6 billion.

Demand is being spurred by an increase in disposable incomes, permitting purchases of premium alcohol beverages.

Edwards concurs that premiumization is an “affordable luxury” trend that continues across categories.

As the winter chill arrives, brown spirits, particularly bourbons, are crushing it for the holidays, particularly as consumers are trading up for more premium products and premium experiences.

With consumers paying more attention to their health, “better-for-you” options will remain popular too.

“People are drinking lighter, opting for lower calorie or low ABV cocktails,” Edwards explains. “When a restaurant or bar wants to benefit from this trend, they need to call out those attributes in their menus and marketing materials. Be overt with your marketing strategy.”