On-Trend Beverages to Warm Up Winter Menus

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A cup of fresh coffee on a white background. Clipping paths included.

From interactive tableside treats to sophisticated liqueurs, the beverage category represents an exciting and profitable opportunity. As a playful response to the rise of craft cocktails, whimsical takes on the classics are growing in popularity. Think salted caramel mimosas, tiramisu martinis or a bacon Old Fashioned. What’s more, creative alcoholic beverages are being served at all hours of the day. Beyond the Bloody Mary, inventive cocktails featuring booze-infused cereal milk, cold-brew coffee and chai are making an impact on brunch menus. 

Menu parts continue to blur with the rise of spiked milkshakes and ice cream floats. This “drinkable desserts” trend shows no signs of stopping—and even during the cold-weather months, the concept can easily come to life on your menu. 

With so many concepts in play, winter is a great time to experiment with seasonally appropriate flavors as the basis for new beverages. 

Not sure where to start? Consider warming up your menu with hot beverages. Tea, apple cider and hot chocolate-based beverages invoke the spirit of the season and can find a place on both the cocktail and non-alcoholic drink pages of your menu. Show stopping shakes rooted in ingredients like gingerbread, cinnamon and peppermint can be served with or without rum, bourbon and flavored vodkas. Be sure to consider the social media aspect of holiday beverages—cookie garnishes, caramel drizzles and chocolate-rimmed glasses lend themselves perfectly to the trend. 

By the numbers: 

Signature cocktails and mocktails incorporating beloved wintry flavors and ingredients have the potential to make a huge impact on the menu1

  • 56% growth of specialty cocktails on menus since 2014
  • 38% growth of the term “spiked” on menus since 2014
  • 81% of consumers like or love hot chocolate
  • 68% growth of apple cider over the past four years.

Click here for more gourmet and indulgent beverage insight and ideas from Conagra Foodservice

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