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State of Tequila Prices: Wholesale Restaurant Food Cost Trends

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Justin GuinnAuthor

Tequila prices may be top of mind for your bar and restaurants. It’s a popular alcohol that’s the basis for many drinks — most notably margaritas.

Regardless of your restaurant type or ham usages, monitoring the restaurant supply chain can help operators forecast price fluctuations, plan their ingredient costs, and set strategic menu prices.

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Toast is the point of sale system built for restaurants.

We're able to calculate the average monthly prices that bars and restaurants pay for tequila by using proprietary data from xtraCHEF by Toast, our invoice automation and recipe costing tool.

The average national price that restaurants paid for a case of tequila is $378 in August. 

A case of tequila has 12 bottles, while a bottle of tequila has about 16 servings.

Here's a breakdown of historical data on wholesale restaurant tequila prices in the last year:

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Restaurant tequila prices have fluctuated between $300-350 in 2023 — with the exception of August’s 31% month-over-month price spike.

Here's a breakdown of recent month-over-month fluctuations in the price of tequila for restaurants:

Types of tequila for restaurant owners and operators

As a restaurant owner or operator, understanding the different types of tequila is essential when making purchasing decisions and setting tequila prices. 

Tequila is classified according to age and is categorized into five types: Blanco, Joven, Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo. 

  • Tequila Blanco, Plata, or Silver tequila: Unaged and has a bold, fresh flavor
  • Joven tequila, or Gold tequila: A blend of Blanco and aged tequila that creates a milder flavor
  • Reposado tequila: Aged in oak barrels between two and twelve months
  • Añejo tequila: Aged for a minimum of one year
  • Extra Añejo tequila, or reserva: Aged for three years or more, creating an amber color and an intense, smooth flavor

Understanding these types of tequila and their distinctions enables restaurant owners and operators to recommend suitable tequila brands and set appropriate tequila prices.

Common drinks featuring tequila

Tequila is a popular base spirit used in various cocktails, including the classic Margarita and Paloma.

Margarita, a classic cocktail made with tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice, is a staple in the drink menu of many restaurants. 

Paloma, a tequila-based cocktail with a blend of grapefruit juice, lime juice, and soda, is also gaining popularity in recent years. 

Many restaurants also offer tequila flights, allowing customers to try different types of tequila and tequila brands. Incorporating these tequila-based drinks in the drink menu can attract tequila drinkers and enhance the customers' overall dining experience.

A history of tequila

Tequila is a distilled spirit made from the juice of the blue agave plant, which is primarily grown in the Jalisco region of Mexico. 

The process of producing tequila involves cooking the agave plant, removing the juice or nectar, and then fermentation and distillation. 

There are different aging processes for tequila, including little to no time in wood barrels as well as years in various combinations of french oak, bourbon barrels, and other wood types.

This distilled spirit dates back to the 16th century, when Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico and introduced the process of distillation. Since then, tequila has become an iconic and beloved spirit, associated with the rich cultural heritage of Mexico and is now enjoyed globally.

Understanding the history and cultural significance of tequila can help restaurant owners and operators promote tequila sales, justify tequila prices, and enhance the customers' tequila drinking experience.

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Increased popularity of tequila

Tequila's popularity has exploded in recent years, with people embracing the spirit as a versatile and sophisticated drink option. 

This increase in popularity can be attributed to various factors, such as tequila's versatility as a base spirit in cocktails, the emergence of craft tequila brands, and a growing appreciation for the spirit's history and cultural significance. In addition, the younger generation's affinity towards tequila has led to an upsurge in tequila drinkers. 

With the increased demand for tequila, restaurant owners and operators must keep up with the trend by offering high-quality tequila brands and setting appropriate tequila prices, creating a unique customer experience and enhancing their brand image.

Tequila vs Mezcal: A guide for bar and restaurant operators

Tequila and Mezcal are often confused as they are both distilled spirits from the agave plant.

However, there are some crucial differences that restaurant owners and operators should know when setting tequila prices and choosing brands to offer.

Tequila is made using only the blue agave plant, primarily grown in the Jalisco region, while Mezcal can be made using any type of agave plant from various regions in Mexico.

Additionally, while tequila is typically made in large-scale distilleries, Mezcal is commonly made using small-batch methods, leading to a distinct taste profile.

Finally, while tequila is usually smooth and fresh, Mezcal has a smoky and earthy flavor.

Introducing Mezcal in the drink menu can attract Mezcal enthusiasts and provide customers with a unique spirit option.

Popular tequila brands for bar and restaurant owners and operators

Offering a selection of popular tequila brands is important when it comes to satisfying tequila drinkers and setting competitive tequila prices.

Many well-known tequila brands are available in the market today, ranging from economical to premium options. Among the popular tequila brands are Patron, Avion, Don Julio, Casamigos, Milagro, El Jimador, Jose Cuervo, Cazadores, Hornitos, Altos, and Sauza.

Patron is widely recognized and often considered a premium tequila brand, known for its smooth taste and high quality. Don Julio, on the other hand, is a classic, premium tequila brand, known for its rich, earthy flavor.

Choosing popular tequila brands and pairing them with suitable mixers is essential in crafting a standout drink menu.

Different types of agave for restaurant owners and operators

Agave is a succulent plant that is the key ingredient in producing various distilled spirits in Mexico. There are many types of agave, such as blue weber agave, tequilana Weber, and espadin agave, to name a few.

Different types of agave can be used to make different types of distilled spirits with varying flavor profiles. For example, blue agave is used in the production of tequila and imparts a sweet, herbal taste, while espadin agave is used in making Mezcal and offers a smoky, earthy flavor. 

Understanding the different types of agave and their flavor profiles can help restaurant owners and operators make informed purchasing decisions and set appropriate tequila prices for different types of tequila.

The differences between tequila and Mezcal, offering a range of popular tequila brands, and familiarizing different agave varieties are critical for restaurant owners and operators when setting tequila prices and crafting a standout drink menu.

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Start tracking tequila prices today

Fluctuating wholesale tequila prices can be the pop top that blows out your restaurant’s flip-flops. That’s why restaurateurs should consider having a strong back-of-house cost tracking foundation that’s built on invoice automation.

Invoices are the single source of truth for restaurant costs — pinpointing prices and fluctuations for individual ingredients as well as paper goods, non-alcoholic beverages, and more.

With accurate and up-to-date ingredient prices from invoices, operators can start calculating plate and drink costs. Plate costing is a detailed exercise that zooms into the recipes and/or individual ingredients that make up a dish — requiring detailed recipe costs and portion costs for ingredients.

Costing exercises can help show how each component is contributing to the overall profitability of a dish or drink. And recipe costing software can help make it easier to calculate and achieve an ideal balance between portions and profits.




Methodology

Toast analyzed monthly invoice items for tequila from restaurants using xtraCHEF by Toast. Items are weighted by the frequency of orders, not quantity. A standard unit of measure is determined so that an average price can be calculated across all invoice inclusions of the ingredient.

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