New flavors, especially seasonal menu additions, are a welcome change for many consumers. It’s no surprise, then, that nearly half (47%) of all restaurants introduce new items or flavors at least monthly, according to Technomic’s 2017 Flavor report.
Warmer temperatures and longer days call for summer beverage LTOs. Trending this season, Technomic’s MenuMonitor finds, are fruit-forward drinks, variations on the Moscow Mule and frozen concoctions. Nostalgia is yet another factor inspiring summertime LTOs.
Check out how some operators are incorporating these trends on their menus.
Frozen drinks’ power to refresh renders them especially welcome on warmer days and nights. Panera Bread last quarter rolled out its Frozen Agave Lemonade, and Red Lobster calls its Mango Passion Margarita “paradise in a glass”; the drink combines tequila with triple sec, mango-passion fruit mix and house margarita mix.
But margaritas aren’t the only frozen cocktail with a following: frozen Palomas and Gold Rushes are served in paper cups with a gummy garnish and umbrellas at Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Café, and a frozen Negroni is the perfect antidote for a hot afternoon at Baar Baar in New York City. Frozen wine, too, is poised for a seasonal comeback. Last year’s frozen rosé, or frosé, has segued over to white wines, with frozen pinot grigios and Rieslings popping up on drink menus.
Frozen coffee drinks also help to satisfy caffeine lovers with indulgent tastes. The Butter Pecan Frozen Coffee and Frozen Chocolate drinks from Dunkin Donuts bring an indulgent butter-roasted pecan and sweet cream flavor to these chilled mixes.
Offering a frozen drink LTO doesn’t have to translate to lots of extra work and clean-up, either—with blenders and premade individual-serving drinks, such as those from f’real foods, operators and kitchen staff can offer seasonal frozen beverages in a snap. Try the frozen coffee frappe or a pina colada smoothie for an on-trend addition to beverage menus.
Summer’s bounty drives many LTOs. The Meatball Shop’s six New York City locations celebrated Pride Month (June) with A Celestial Yass, a rainbow-colored cocktail mixed with blueberries, cucumbers, blueberry syrup, lime juice and tequila, garnished with blue and red sugar, a lime wheel and a rainbow gummy candy.
The Palm Restaurant’s Blackberry Honey Bee combines tequila with raspberry liqueur, honey syrup and fresh lime juice; it’s served on the rocks with ripe blackberries and lime.
Moscow Mule riffs include the Pineapple Upside-Down Mule served at Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, a casual dining chain with 108 locations. This sweet variation combines vanilla-flavored vodka, pineapple juice, a splash of grenadine and ginger beer and a garnish of gummy cherries, pineapple tidbits and a maraschino cherry. At 33 Degrees North in Dana Point, Calif., the Dragon Mule mixes orange-infused vodka with rhubarb bitters, fresh dragon fruit and ginger liqueur.
Nostalgic takes on fun childhood favorites—in both hard and soft drink versions—tend to pop up every summer, touting flavors such as cotton candy, popcorn and s’mores. WayBack Burgers, a burger chain with 135 locations across the country, celebrated the first day of summer with giveaways of its Black and White Milkshake, a mix of vanilla ice cream, French vanilla syrup, dark chocolate syrup and milk.
Finally, adults are rediscovering childhood favorites designed for more mature palates, including boozy milkshakes and sweet beverages. BCK: Kitchen & Cocktail Adventures opened in Houston earlier this year with a cocktail menu influenced by childhood favorites, including soda pop-flavored sips and the likes of Berry Crunch Milk Punch, a pairing of whiskey with Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries-infused milk.
For operators looking to add a summertime beverage LTO, the options are limitless.
This post is sponsored by f’real foods