When Disneyland first opened, Walt Disney insisted that no alcohol be served. It’s only recently that guests could order cocktails at the happiest place on Earth. Similarly, no alcoholic beverage companies have exhibited at the IAAPA Expo—until this year. Three pioneers have joined the ranks in the food and beverage pavilion on the trade show floor.
“We’re here to make connections so that people who really want to enjoy good craft beer will know where to get it,” says Kelly Stevens, director of national accounts for Stone Brewing.
Representatives are giving attendees samples of its products, including the West Coast-style IPA that put the company on the map. Based in California, Stone Brewing has relationships with parks such as SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland California. Stevens says the company is hoping to expand into other markets. She is encouraged by the interest folks from family entertainment centers, zoos, and other venues are showing at the booth.
“Hopefully, we can help parks and attractions build an additional revenue stream,” Stevens adds.
The pre-made margarita, espresso martini, and other cocktails available at the On the Rocks Cocktails (OTR) booth are quite popular, even in the morning. “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” cheery attendants tell hesitant attendees.
“The demand for this ready-to-drink space is there for the amusement industry,” says Hunter Arnold, regional director for Jim Beam Brands, which owns OTR. “We’re seeing a great response. This is what their consumers want.”
With staffing challenges, attractions are having a hard time finding trained bartenders. That makes the pop-and-pour concept of OTR’s pre-made cocktails especially appealing.
White Claw Hard Seltzer also has a booth. Cathy Bass, national key accounts manager for Mark Anthony Brands, says that the company is excited to have the opportunity to showcase its products and that it is looking forward to working with IAAPA members.
“It’s wonderful to see this industry open up to the idea of including alcohol in their F&B programs,” she says. “We are thrilled to be one of the first alcohol companies to support the Expo.”
While the beverage vendors may be new to the trade show, Stone Brewing’s Stevens says that people are not surprised to find them here. “It’s more like, ‘finally, alcohol is being represented on the floor.’”