Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Mike Kostyo


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“I want to have both the feeling and the actual experience of drinking something special with my meal—something that is as sophisticated, interesting and thoughtful as wine,” says chef/owner Seth Stowaway of San Francisco’s Osito. Stowaway, who is sober, puts that same thoughtfulness into his Phony Groni build, a drink with a humorous name but a serious pedigree. It starts with Giffard Aperitif Syrup, a non-alc substitute for Campari, which is combined with an equal portion of citrus-forward Seedlip Grove. A cocktail acid, made in house with water, ascorbic acid and citric acid, is added, as well as a 4:1 saline solution. It’s all stirred, strained and garnished with a grapefruit twist.


Over a century ago, Count Camillo Negroni walked into Florence’s Café Casoni, asked that his usual Campari and vermouth be finished with gin instead of soda (he must have been having a particularly rough day), and a legendary cocktail was born. Once relatively unknown to most Americans, the drink has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, driven by America’s newfound penchant for bitter drinks. The cocktail has become so common that it has spawned offshoot trends on drink menus, including white negronis, mezcal negronis and the negroni sbagliato craze. Here we look at some of the most unique negroni builds on menus today, showcasing how a simple three-ingredient cocktail can be the foundation for endless flavor play.

About The Author

Mike Kostyo

Mike Kostyo is the VP of Menu Matters. Mike has been a recurring guest on Fusion TV’s “The A.V. Club” show; has been featured on NBC News, CBS Radio and Gimlet Media’s “Why We Eat What We Eat” podcast; is regularly featured in newspapers and magazines; speaks at numerous conferences across the country; and was a judge on Food Network’s “Eating America.” For nearly 11 years, Mike was an associate director and trends expert at one of the industry's largest research firms. He has a master's in Gastronomy from Boston University, plus certificates in the culinary arts, baking arts, wine and artisan cheese production. [email protected]