The creativity behind modern beverage innovation is astounding. In part, it’s driven by a consumer with relentless expectations for flavor and freshness. It’s also buoyed by the social trend, where consumers place high value on convivial experiences.
Making the beverage menu modern, with on-trend ingredients and flavor combinations, is paramount to a brand’s strategy to attract today’s consumers.
Here are 12 ingredients that bring nuanced flavors and appealing novelty to drink menus. They also offer signature beverage-building opportunities, delighting guests with flavors that are both fresh and exciting.
Demand for natural sweeteners continues, with honey enjoying all sorts of sweet praise. It wins with a firm claim in the natural space, as well as a compelling tie to regional flavor cues. As proof of honey’s prevalence on the beverage menu, Datassential reveals an 84 percent increase in honey-infused cocktails between 2012 and 2016.
- Pink Moon Shandy: Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka, orange-blossom honey water, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, Blue Moon Belgian white beer
—Omni Hotels & Resorts, multiple locations
- Hangover Rx: Pineapple, orange, honey, coconut water
—True Food Kitchen, multiple locations
- Golden Spice Milk: A blend of turmeric, coconut milk, local honey, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, vanilla, served chilled over bullet ice with fresh mint and an orange slice
—Unforked, multiple locations
Who would have thought that the liquid in canned beans and legumes could be sexy? Better known as aquafaba, it’s giving a vegan spin to classic cocktails made with egg whites, like sours and fizzes. In fact, some drink developers swear that it provides a more neutral flavor.
- Ramos Gin Fizz: Haymans Old Tom gin, coconut cream, aquafaba, lemon, yuzu, orange leaf oil, Thai basil
—Clever Koi, Phoenix
- Pisco Sour: Pisco, elderflower, lemon, maple vinegar, aquafaba
—Birch, Los Angeles
3 Chile Peppers
Just as we’ve seen on food menus, modern heat is dialing up the experience on the beverage side, too. It’s actually an ideal platform, as today’s heat usage is all about balance and depth, tempered by other flavors, abundant in a beverage setting. Chile peppers introduce big personality into a drink, from nuanced heat to regional flair.
- Jessica Rabbit: Cucumber vodka, carrot, genepy, Fresno chile, Thai basil and yuzu
—LSXO, Huntington Beach, Calif.
- Pepino Margarita: Silver tequila, lime, Cointreau, cucumber, jalapeño, simple syrup and a chile pequin rim
—Del Toro, Chicago
- Eastside Story: Cardamom-infused bourbon, habanero-honey syrup, grapefruit and lemon juice, Barritt’s ginger beer
—Orsay, Jacksonville, Fla.