As we immerse ourselves into the food-and-beverage business in 2016, it’s a good time to take a look back at the stories we ran in 2015 that made the biggest impact on readers. Here are the most-read articles of the year:

Ginger beer, flavored spirits, honey among top beverage trends

Trends expected to impact hotel bars and restaurants throughout 2015 included ginger beer, which is included in contemporary cocktails at bars and restaurants across the country, and its menu appearances are soaring.

Another bar trend is flavored spirits, which increased in popularity in 2014 and were expected to continue to grow in 2015. The trend extended to mixers—tonics flavored with elderflower and other herbs and spices and new combinations such as bourbon and craft tonic.

Hotels attract fans of pop-up dining events

Eventbrite surveyed more than 2,000 attendees of pop-up dining experiences in 2014 and found that these events attract guests who are willing and eager to pay more for a unique dining experience.

Three in four (75 percent) pop-up event attendees believe it’s worth paying more money for a unique dining experience. In fact, 50 percent of respondents say that even with the exact same menu, they’d be willing to pay more for a meal at a pop-up event with a chef interaction than for a meal at a regular restaurant ($58 dollars more per person on average).

On average, diners said they’d pay $98 for a ticket to a pop-up restaurant event with a meal prepared by their favorite chef, surpassing what they’d be willing to spend on a performance by their favorite band ($96), or on a ticket to see their favorite sports team ($74)

Zagat survey gives picture of dining behavior

A survey conducted by Zagat tapped into the opinions of 10,000 diners to provide a look at restaurant behavior across the United States. The survey covered such topics as tipping (better tippers live on the East Coast), the cost of dining out, trendy foods (hello, Brussels sprouts and beets), dining irritants and pet peeves and the frequency they eat out (4.5 times per week on average). Top cuisines (Italian, American and French) and technology and reservations (online is a must) also were discussed.

Celebrity chefs help boost hotel restaurant success

The trend of partnering with celebrity chefs has elevated hotel restaurants to a new level of success.

“Consumers are smarter,” James Gersten told BuzzFeed News. He’s president and CEO of BR Guest Hospitality, which owns a few dozen restaurants and partners with hotels in New York, Las Vegas and Atlantic City. “Because of celebrity chefs, the Food Network and social media, you have to be so much more on point to attract consumers, both travelers and the locals. Because of social media, consumers want to feel like they’re in the right space in the right market.”

Health-conscious beverage choices on the rise

Kegs of probiotics are newly on tap in bars, and fruit juices have found their way into bottles of beer, as the American beverage industry has introduced new offerings catering to health-conscious consumers wanting wholesome, low-alcohol options.

From fermented black tea to beer mixed with lemon juice, beverage makers say they are trying to add nutritional value while curbing alcohol content and calories.

Benchmark Hospitality shares dining trends for 2015

Benchmark Hospitality International, a U.S.-based hospitality management company with two portfolios of properties, Benchmark Resorts & Hotels and Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels, released its Top Dining Trends for 2015.

Hot trends included small plates, bunless items, infusing flavor and the popularity of comfort foods.

DIY F&B popular with events and groups

Instead of delivering food and beverage directly to attendees, many hotels are allowing guests to prepare and source their own food and drinks with the help of their culinary teams and local companies.

The concept, dubbed “Do-It-Yourself,” or DIY, appears to be gaining some traction throughout the world, and this article highlights some of those involved.

F&B employees are on the move

Staff movement in the food-and-beverage sphere was a popular read. Some of the announcements made about appointments around the world include Andrea Magno’s appointment to director of F&B at the W Doha Hotel & Residences in Qatar; Stefan Zich being named the new director of food and beverage at Regent Phuket Cape Panwa, Thailand; and Solage Hotels & Resorts promotion of executive chef Brandon Sharp to VP of culinary operations.

Restaurants prepare for new credit card payment rules

Rules went into effect in October requiring use of EMV chip card technology to more effectively combat the pervasive and costly problem of credit card fraud. Merchants who have not switched over to EMV (which stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) now are liable for any fraudulent transactions.

Food prices to increase slightly in 2015; beef prices remain high

The LA Times reported that the latest report from the USDA’s Economic Research Service predicted food-price increases of 2 percent to 3 percent in 2015. Fresh fruits and vegetables were predicted to increase less than 1 percent.

Pork prices were expected to drop 2 percent to 3 percent after rising 12 percent in 2014. Beef prices were expected to increase 5 percent to 6 percent as the effects of the Midwestern drought lingered.

This article originally appears on Hotelmanagement


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