Over 21, Under 35
Haute wine bars and restaurants are increasingly catering to the under-30 oenophile.
Le Bernardin Lounge
If you’re asked to show ID at a restaurant, you’d assume the maître d’ was simply certifying that you were “of age.” But which age? At a growing number of restaurants and bars, it’s not enough to be over 21. It’s being under 30 that counts.
Weekly “Under-30 Evenings” are a hit at Jasper, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the regal Palace Luzern hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland. Guests must present their IDs before ordering a special three-course dinner menu that, at 59 Swiss Francs, or roughly $70, is tailored to the 20-something’s budget. (That bottle of hard-to-find Rosenauer Süsswein still sells at full price, though.)
There’s a simple business truth at the heart of this calculated ageism. As Jasper’s Executive Assistant Manager Raymond Hunziker puts it, “These younger guests of today are our patrons of tomorrow.”
Millennials offer the wine industry growth potential not seen since the 1970s, when underage Baby Boomers became Chardonnay-crazed adults. But capturing the attention—and pocketbooks—of this demographic can prove tricky.
A study by research group Wine Opinions in 2011 found that 31% of Millennials drink wine without food. Restaurants have responded by allocating space to lounges where young guests can sip socially without sitting down to a meal.
Last fall, Manhattan’s renowned French restaurant Le Bernardin debuted a new lounge area where patrons can still get their glass of Trefethen Oak Knoll Cabernet Sauvignon—but don’t have to wear a jacket.