By Flavor & The Menu
February 3, 2022
Consider a seasonal rotation of tropical drinks to build strength in the category and allow guests to explore island-style drinks year round. In the spring and summer, use coconut, guava and passionfruit. In winter, lean into similar flavors, but add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, which pair well in both cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.
Purée your favorite roasted chile with mango and fresh citrus, cocoa nibs and a hint of tequila to create a tropical savory system. Tropical flavor systems can be used as a base for a cocktail, a marinade for spatchcocked chicken or a dressing for a quinoa bowl.
Lean into the signature dishes that differentiate one island cuisine from another, whether it’s Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Bahamas or another tropical destination. Easy explorations start with ingredients like black beans and tostones, flavor enhancers like mojo sauce and dishes like ropa vieja.
Presenting vivid colors, distinctive textures and a sense of place, island foods can remind diners of a great vacation, offering a brief mental escape during stressful times. A tropical LTO can gently push the boundaries of familiarity, opening the door with a craveable, exotic offering featuring an irresistible ‘Wow!’ factor.
Tropical cocktails have great versatility and need not be limited to just one type of spirit. Rum, vodka, whiskey, tequila or any combination works here. Shareable cocktails for two or more, fun take-home vessels or over-the-top garnishes that make heads turn add to the appeal.
From the Best of Flavor 2022 issue of Flavor & The Menu, for chefs and menu developers. Read full issue online.