Last Updated on November 6, 2020 by Novotaste

El Che Steakhouse & Bar in Chicago reimagines a classic cocktail with its Caramelized Rum Old Fashioned. The traditional bourbon is replaced with aged rum, playing its warm, tropical notes against the caramelized sugar and torched orange peel.

When cooler weather moves in, diners’ expectations reflect the changing seasons. Satisfy their cravings by offering hot and cold beverages that provide warmth, spice and perhaps a touch of nostalgia. Alcoholic and nonalcoholic cold-weather beverages are stress soothers. Consumers typically sip them more slowly, becoming wrapped in their nurturing qualities while sharing their enjoyment socially.

These seasonal beverages deliver a powerful sensory experience with visual cues, aromatics, flavors and textures. Operators can add value to their cold-weather beverage lineup by focusing on quality and personalized indulgence, coupled with a splash of novelty. This hits a sweet spot, injecting fun and garnering broader appeal. Incorporating functional ingredients will make seasonal drinks even more welcoming. Read on for 10 beverage opportunities poised to punch up winter menus.

1 HOT COCOA

Hot cocoa never goes out of style with its chocolatey rich comfort. Infusing this classic with seasonal warming flavors amps up the indulgence factor. Introducing alluring, trend-forward ingredients into the mix adds a premium, signature touch.

Tahini-Butterscotch Cocoa
Half and half + dark cocoa powder + tahini + butterscotch

Snowflake Cocoa
Thai coconut milk/condensed milk + white chocolate + vanilla + housemade lavender marshmallow square

2 RUSTY NAIL

This simple yet robust blend delivers sweet herbal and spiced flavors. Experiment with the Scotch and Drambuie ratios to match your guests’ tastes. Without straying too far from this dynamic duo, add complementary notes to provide a subtle twist.

Blackberry Rusty Nail
Drambuie + blended Scotch whisky + blackberry syrup + lemon twist + an ice ball

Smoky Nail
Drambuie + peated single malt Scotch whisky + orange bitters

3 SPICED MILKS

Trendy moon milks (essentially warm milk drinks), which can be made with cow’s milk or plant-based substitutes, lead this category with their pleasing colors and wellness elements. Spiced milks, whether warmed or chilled, work well at both breakfast/brunch and late night. Tout their healthfulness and unique flavorings.

Gilded Pumpkin “Milk”
Warmed almond milk + pumpkin purée + grated fresh turmeric + cardamom + cayenne + honey

Pink Panther “Milk”
Chilled oat milk + beet powder + red maca powder + cherry juice + blood orange purée

4 BLOODY MARY

Create versions that speak to the seasonality of this brunch favorite during colder months. Flavorful heat and bigger plays on umami, even when chilled, are a great way to deliver warmth in cooler seasons.

Brothy Mary
Beef bone broth + Bloody Mary mix + vodka + beef jerky spiral and celery stalk garnish

Fuji Mary
Sake + Bloody Mary mix + yuzu juice + pickled plum slices + togarashi spice rim

5 HOT CIDER

Nothing beats a mug of fragrant hot cider on a cold day. Cider emanates the spirit of fall and ushers in the holidays. Deepen the connection to community by featuring a local/regional fresh-pressed cider, then layering it with fun, brand-specific flavors.

Caramel-Fig Cider
Fresh-pressed cider + almond butter + caramel + fig syrup

Crimson Apple Cider
Fresh-pressed cider + cranberry juice + pomegranate seeds + cloves

6 NEW OLD FASHIONED

Rum is enjoying a surge in popularity. What’s old becomes new when you swap out the old-fashioned base of brandy or bourbon with aged rum. This can appeal to adventurous guests who appreciate thoughtful, creative riffs on their classic cocktails.

Spiced Rum Old Fashioned
Spiced rum + sugar/bitters/water + orange and lemon twist + sour cherry

Dark Rum Old Fashioned
Dark rum + simple syrup/bitters + orange twist + Luxardo cherry

7 ATOLE

Build off the trust that diners place in the comforting flavors of Mexican cuisine by offering this thick, corn- and masa-based drink, flavored with piloncillo, vanilla and cinnamon. Traditionally served at breakfast, it can also be positioned as a natural fit for midday beverage occasions.

Cinnamon-Orange Atole
Masa harina + whole milk + orange juice + cinnamon syrup + vanilla

Chocolate Atole
Masa harina + evaporated milk + Mexican chocolate + dark piloncillo + ancho chile

8 MULLED WINE

This warm, boozy beverage brings to mind the spirits of the holidays, and is primed for updating with modern and signature elements. Use elegant flavor combinations to let guests know that this is something special.

Winter White Wine
Chardonnay + pear liqueur + maple syrup + cinnamon stick + black peppercorns

Christmas Wine
Merlot + brandy + golden raisins + tangelo slices + star anise pod

9 HERBAL FRUIT SPRITZERS

As consumers turn to healthier beverage choices and seek ever-new experiences, many modern drinks have become fruit-centric and lean on herbal notes for contrasting flavor tones. Spritzers are an ideal vehicle to deliver on this trend.

Rosemary Citrus Spritzer
Sparkling water + fresh rosemary sprig + fresh lemon-lime juice and zest + agave + ice

Spiced Spritzer
Soda water + cranberry juice + fresh ginger purée + kumquat slices + fresh sage leaf + ice

10 WINTER SHOOTERS

Limited-time miniature mixed-drink offerings do more than warm the spirit; they can warm up the menu experience. Guests can enjoy a quick sip before or after a meal, or experiment with a flight of drinks.

Gingerbread Cider-Rum Shooter
Hard cider + rum + gingerbread syrup + lemon juice + bitters

Drambuie Cocoa Shooter
Drambuie + chilled hot chocolate + cinnamon/sugar rim

Source: Flavor Upgrades for Cold-Weather Beverages | Flavor & The Menu