Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development




By Rob Corliss
October 16, 2020

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Natural and functional are merging to create a bigger beverage trend opportunity—fermentation. While fermentation and beverages have long gone hand in hand, today’s menus are showcasing a renewed focus in their affinity for each other. This is evident in the rise of kombucha; the emergence of kvass (a fermented Slavic and Baltic beverage commonly made from rye bread); the resurgence of sipping vinegars and kefir; the intrigue with fermented fruit juices and tepache; and the explosion of hard seltzer introductions.

Modern palates, especially with the younger generation, are gravitating to the crisp refreshment of these natural flavors and their inherent wellness attributes. Consumers are finding the unique bold flavors they crave and seek, via fermented beverages.

Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks benefit from this consumer curiosity.


  • Seoul Mule: Ginger beer + lime juice + soju-infused oranges
  • Pulque Curado: Pulque + strawberry purée
  • Smoked Fig Cider Toddy: Warmed hard apple cider + smoked fig syrup + rum
  • Mango-Tamarind Lassi: Fresh or IQF mango + tamarind syrup + Tajín seasoning + plain yogurt + milk
  • Rising Sun Horchata: Gingered-jasmine rice kefir horchata + yuzu cream topper + fresh mandarin orange slice


Here’s a snapshot of delicious creations to energize your deep dive into fermented beverages:

  • Monsieur Henri: Tequila, amargo valet, tepache, piloncillo, lime, chipotle bitters
    The Loyalist, Chicago

  • Where There’s Smoke: VA rye, DC nocino, smoked maple, sorghum molasses vinegar, snake oil
    Woodberry Kitchen, Baltimore, Md.

  • Dirty Martini: Vodka, housemade olive brine, Lustau Blanco Vermut
    The NoMad Bar, Las Vegas

  • Pandan Colada: Jinro soju, Captain Morgan LocoNut, pandan, pineapple, popping boba
    Xin Chao, Houston

  • No. 914: Mezcal, shishito-tequila, génépy, pineapple, lime, black garlic oil
    Nightshade, Los Angeles

  • Ginger Berry Kombucha: R/O re-mineralized water, black and green tea, evaporated cane sugar, ginger juice, raspberries, blueberries
    Fermentation Farm, Costa Mesa, Calif.

  • Fluffy Fizz: Cherry, lemon, lime, orange shrub, topped with cotton candy
    Vena’s Fizz House, Portland, Maine

  • Actual Sunshine: Seedlip grove, mango, Pilot turmeric kombucha, Kin Euphorics
    Listen Bar, Brooklyn, N.Y.

  • Plantiful: Avocado, coconut, mango, agave, coconut vanilla plentiful (a vegan probiotic beverage)
    The Lifeway Kefir Shop, Chicago


About The Author

Rob Corliss

Rob Corliss is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009. Based in Nixa, Mo., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu.