The recent mixology and cocktail fever sweeping America can be seen as nothing but good fortune for today’s bars and restaurants. However, even good fortune can have its downsides, and the recent cocktail craze has left some in the food and beverage industry scrambling to invent new and exciting drinks to tempt their customers’ palates. Here are the three top tips that you can use to spice up your cocktail menu.
1. Ditch the sour cocktails
Ten years ago, everyone wanted sour cocktails, and of course, Americans have always loved their sweet drinks. The Cosmopolitan was the hot, adventurous cocktail of bar-goers a decade ago, and for good reason: it was sour, sweet, and strong. At that time, anything that wasn’t sour, sweet, or served neat was off the table (or the bar, rather), but tastes have changed. Now American foodies are expanding their interests into the drink world, and they’re calling for greater variety and excitement.
2. Try bitter flavors
One of the trends that Americans are now clamoring for in their cocktails is a bitter flavor. Although it may seem like an anomaly that artisan bitters have made a comeback, and that bitter flavors are dominating our taste buds, in truth, the American taste profile has changed considerably.
Jean Jacques Dubau, Campari’s managing director for North America, has the perfect explanation for this change: “The rise of Starbucks shows people like coffee, which is bitter. People eat salad like arugula, which has a bitter taste.” These are the flavors that are popular now, and it is not surprising that bitter drink flavors are also in vogue.
3. Go beyond bitter flavors
The hottest bartenders of today are working all sorts of flavors into their drinks, in order to get Americans to drink more premium cocktails. Smoky flavors made with mescal and Scotch are popular, as well as floral and herbal flavors. In fact, all “foodie” flavors are taking a strong hold, and there’s no reason your bar can’t join the trend.
The important thing to remember when making new additions to your cocktail menu is that all changes should be made with your customer’s interests in mind. You started your bar or restaurant because you’re passionate about the many surprising tastes that the food and beverage world offers—but your customers might like going to your business precisely because they view you as a steady comfort in an unpredictable world. Too many times, I have seen restaurants make bold and striking changes to their menus…and then scare their regulars away. If you add exciting changes to your menu slowly but steadily, you can continue to appeal to your “solid and steady” regular crowd while also attracting new patrons with different tastes.
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