Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

A Dozen Ways: Building a Buzz-Worthy Beverage A dozen trending ingredients making a splash today

This Pink Moon Shandy from Omni Hotels & Resorts makes a refreshing summer sipper, sweetened with orange-blossom honey water.
PHOTO CREDIT: Omni Hotels and Resorts

7 Yuzu

Citrus is always a home run in beverage builds, thanks to its refreshing, bright profile. Yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit, brings with it an added sense of adventure, along with tart grapefruit overtones and a floral finish. A natural fit for Asian-inspired drinks, it’s also popping up in modern American cocktails, reflecting the ever-growing trend of mash-up creativity.

  • Yuzu Lemonade
    —Ivan Ramen, New York
  • Crisol: Damoiseau Agricole Rhum, yuzu, mirin, bay leaf simple syrup
    —Soca, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
  • Far East Side: Sake, tequila, shiso leaf, elderflower, lemon, yuzu bitters
    —Bar Goto, New York

8 Herbs and Spices

This is almost impossible to call a micro-trend because the world of herbs and spices is so expansive. But herbs and spices do channel a similar theme: Each offers a high-impact flavor to beverage builds. From spiced rims on Bloody Marys and micheladas to fresh herb infusions and charred herb garnishes, the creativity in this category is never-ending.

  • Cucumber Thyme Lemonade: Fresh cucumber and lemon, housemade sweet & sour, sugarcane, thyme sprig and soda
    —Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, multiple locations
  • Plan Check Penicillin: Mezcal, ginger, lemon, agave, fennel pollen and Buzz Button flowers
    —LSXO, Huntington Beach, Calif.
  • Pink Ferrari: El Massaya Arak, grapefruit, sumac salt
    —Tusk, Portland, Ore.
The Tea Thyme at CBD Provisions in Dallas features distinctive herbal notes from thyme-infused gin with French amer, Maraska, lemon and club soda

The Tea Thyme at CBD Provisions in Dallas features distinctive herbal notes from thyme-infused gin with French amer, Maraska, lemon and club soda

9 Smoked Ingredients

There’s a newborn fascination with smoky liquors, like mezcal, and a continuing maturation of the American palate, helping push this trend forward. But the sensory appeal of smoke is also moving the needle here, where mixologists are smoking herbs, fruits, pine needles and glassware. The smoked trend is another example of consumers embracing bolder flavor profiles, like sour and bitter, for example.

Sympathy for the Devil: Smoked habanero-infused Mezcal Yuu Baal, rye whiskey, lemon juice, agave syrup
—Boneyard Bistro, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Smoked Fig: Maker’s Mark bourbon, fig and rosemary syrup, topped with charred rosemary twigs
—Avant Restaurant, San Diego

Limonada Sucia: Tito’s Vodka, grilled lemon juice, applewood-smoked simple syrup, lavender bitters
—Del Campo, Washington, D.C.

For Ivy Kitchen’s Bootstrap Manhattan, with TX Whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters and Luxardo Cherry, a torch is used to create maple smoke that clings to the glassIvy Kitchen

For Ivy Kitchen’s Bootstrap Manhattan, with TX Whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters and Luxardo Cherry, a torch is used to create maple smoke that clings to the glass

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About The Author

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Katie Ayoub is managing editor of Flavor & The Menu. She has been working in foodservice publishing for more than 16 years and on the Flavor team since 2006. She won a 2015 Folio award for her Flavor & The Menu article, Heritage Matters. In 2006, she won “Best Culinary Article” from the Cordon D’Or for an article on offal.