Did you know that 73% of consumers are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers new and unique flavors? Amping up and diversifying your menu includes drink offerings as well. When there’s an understanding among restaurant operators of what pairs well with their cuisine, what flavors customers thirst for and tapping into those preferences, margins increase and profits soar year-round. Whether you’re looking to ramp up your craft beverage menu for better profits, refresh tired drink selections, or experiment with new options for the coming year, here are 10 crave-worthy flavors that increase customer satisfaction and loyalty to your brand.
1. Sparklings and Hard Seltzers
With the boost in hard seltzer and flavored sparkling water purchases over the last few years, it’s no surprise that the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot 2022 Culinary Forecast predicted flavored sparklings and hard seltzers as 2022’s top popular beverages. From Gen Z to Boomers, requests for effervescent drinks and healthier alternatives to sodas keep pouring in. Nostalgic flavors like cherry, apple and grape, plus seasonals like watermelon and strawberry are hits, but ensure you use quality ingredients and balance out sweetness to see your margins soar. With the blank canvas that sparklings offer, it’s easy to change up your menu to increase profits while giving your customers both seasonals and new flavors to try without breaking the bank.
2. Tropical and Herbaceous Lemonades
Flavored lemonades used to be sweet in the summertime, but now they’ve expanded to 12-month delights with topical and herbal flavors that pack a punch for refreshing sips. Here, think passion fruit, mint, hibiscus, mango, pomegranate, and mash-ups like lychee mango and strawberry mint for seasonal bursts. And if you have particularly spicy or hot cuisine, experiment with something like hibiscus yogurt lemonade. Instead of sugar-laden juices or sodas, these lemonade flavors can be precisely crafted with fresh ingredients to satisfy health concerns and allow your restaurant to brainstorm custom flavor profiles to continue to satisfy customer cravings.
3. Plant-Based Milks
The increase in demand for plant-based milks in beverages, especially coffee oat milk lattes, comes from the increase in food allergies and availability of dairy milk alternatives for health and environmental reasons. But that means restaurant owners can capitalize on flavorful plant-based milk drinks, like oat milk swirls and mango oat milk, to grow their bottom line. From almond to cashew to oat and hemp, greater variety in selections creates the potential for attracting new segments.
4. Inspired by Health and Wellness
The health and wellness trend driven by Millennials and accelerated by Gen Z can easily be tapped into by quick-service and full-service restaurants’ beverage selections. Beverages made from simple, natural ingredients with low sugar content that still deliver high impact flavors provide consumers with guilt-free indulgences while still getting their “sweet fix”.
5. Tea Varieties
Traditional teas are tag-teaming with healthier-for-you consumer trends, but newer varieties including infused teas like mango or lychee black tea, pomegranate green tea, or combos like mango peach strawberry iced green tea, are tickling the taste buds of diners who continue to return for these unique flavor profiles. There’s also been an upswing in the market for milk, bubble, and boba teas with their low sugar and organic taglines. With both hot, cold, and mixed teas, the options to build custom creations just for your restaurant help swing consumers back through your doors and build profits whether it’s sweltering or snowing outside.
6. Zero Proof Cocktails and Mocktails
Younger generations are drinking less alcohol than ever before, but that doesn’t mean they want to sacrifice the cocktail experience entirely. Instead, they’re looking for a high-quality mix of zero proof cocktails and mocktails, fueled by the ongoing “sober curious” movement.” Craft sodas, infused teas, flavored sparklings, and lemonades with fresh herbs hit the right intriguing notes, continue on the health-conscious trend, and offer sophisticated sips.
7. Experimental Florals and Botanicals
65% of consumers like to occasionally try new flavors, and with that, restaurant diners are reaching for something unexpected and hitting on florals and botanicals in their beverages. Hibiscus, lavender, turmeric, rosemary, and elderflower have been on the rise to create drinks that are distinct yet memorable, and can work in alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. When you can create a combo that sings notes on consumers’ tastebuds, it not only ramps up revenue, but can be complex enough to complement many different types of cuisine. Entice customers with sweet, bitter, or tart flavors and you’ll see your beverage margins tick up.
8. Global Flavors
With the past few years’ restriction of travel, consumers desire global flavors to give them a tourist-like experience close to home. For example, enable your customers to indulge in beverages inspired by cultural flavors like passion fruit, guava, cardamom and yuzu. The key to driving profits is to surprise customers with the ingredients but also in how they complement your best-selling menu items. Bring more pizazz to your beverages and you’ll see diners spring for quality drinks from take out to delivery orders.
9. Iced Coffees and Lattes
Iced salted caramel lattes, vanilla cold brew, coffee mint mojitos, and lavender iced coffee are just a few of the new coffees on the block that have coffee drinkers rethinking their morning ritual black coffee. When you can provide unique, hot and cold coffees like these that address consumers’ daily caffeine cravings, you’ll keep customers on their toes and continue to drive foot traffic.
10. Drinks Specific to Your Cuisine and Restaurant
There’s nothing like a specialty drink – unique for diners at your restaurant and perfectly paired with your cuisine – to boost the dining experience and exponentially drive sales. Forever riding the profit train will be creative beverages that consumers can’t get anywhere but at your locations, and that truly create craveable, one-of-a-kind sips that they order month after month, year after year with fervor.