Do you want to add something a little unexpected to your fall drinks menu? A recent article in the New York Times, “Culinary Trends in New York” described all the new, exciting innovations that I did not see coming in the predictions I made for 2014, and they sound delicious. Try adding these three alcohol trends to your drinks menu to spice up the season.
Ancho Reyes, a new chile liqueur, was just released in America earlier this year and is made of Poblano chiles. (Fast fact: When you air dry a Poblano, it becomes an Ancho.) The Ancho Reyes website is written in dramatic, stirring, and hilarious Spanglish, and describes the liqueur as “deep bronze” in hue, “with medium body and high viscosity,” and says that it smells woodsy, with strong overtones of chile and sweet spices like cinnamon. The flavor is described as “pleasantly sweet,” with a lasting chile bite and renewed hints of those sweet spices.
It can be used to add spice to your margaritas, your rum or gin sours, or you can serve it up plain with some chile and lime dusted jicama spears on the side. Yet another option? Serve it with a Mexican beer.
Radler has just hit the New York trend scene, and is perfect for not only those hot Indian summer days, but also those cheery fall-color weekend getaway days. This thirst-quencher’s name means “cyclist” in German, and it’s a beer-plus-fruit-drink blend (think: Leinenkugels).
Radler blends blonde lager (or whatever beer, really) with German lemonade, which is like Sprite or 7-Up. You can also make it with ales and orange juice, or whatever other citrus-y, beer-y blend you think up. The drink is popular in Germany, and is even canned and sold there, but hadn’t made its way across the ocean until now.
According to the German Beer Institute, the drink was invented (and named) out of desperation. An innkeeper in 1922 created a bike path for his customers, but when he was overhelmed by 13,000 cyclists in a single day, he needed to stretch his insufficient supply of beer with something else he had on hand. The large amounts of lemonade he had purchased wasn’t selling well within his beer-focused crowd, so he mixed the two items together and created a German shandy that caught on.
Cardamaro, the only wine-based amaro in the United States, is made of Muscato infused with cardoon and blessed thistle (which are both members of the artichoke family—not just me sounding like Robert Burns). It is oak-aged for six months, and at the end of that time, it becomes a bitter, nutty, Sherried, and spiced drink that has been described by Wine Enthusiast magazine as “a shortcut to mulled wine.” It’s interesting, it’s sweet (yet artichoke-y), and it’s a unique addition to almost anything on your fall drinks menu.
Innovation only matters if you do something with it
Other people than Thomas Edison actually invented the lightbulb… and other people than you are serving interesting new drinks in your town. The key question to any drink’s success isn’t whether you used Ancho Reyes, a chile liqueur; Radler, a blend of beer and Sprite; or Cardamaro, a wine-based amaro—what matters is how you choose to advertise your drinks. To advertise, try putting signs in your windows, hanging flyers around town, sending out press releases, putting up table tents, holding tasting events, or just creating a slideshow of your “featured” drinks on your digital wine menu. As long as you get the word out, you’ll pique the interest of your patrons, and they’ll come in wanting to try something new.
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