Beverage Social Media Listening
Listening Dates: October 1, 2017- December 31, 2017
Overview of Current Trends
When focusing on social media content generated by news sources, brands, and beverage trendsetters, a variety of new beverage offerings include many holiday and seasonal-inspired presentations, beverages with functional benefits, as well as experimentations with alcoholic beverage ingredients and production methods.
Floral and Botanical Infusions
Ever popular during the warmer seasons, floral and botanical flavors continue to be prevalent into the colder months. A traditional Italian spirit, rosolio, has been revived by bartender Giuseppe Gallo with the new Italicus. This new take on the rose petal liqueur is infused with bergamot, as well as cintron, chamomile, lavender, gentian and yellow roses through a cold-pressing process. With flavors inspired by picking oranges at Christmastime, this fruity and floral spirit is popular for sipping during the holidays.
Gin is especially popular for infusing with botanical flavors, and Lidl has recently launched two new gin liqueurs in time for the holiday season, with one featuring rhubarb and ginger. Another gin maker, Blackwoods, has also branched out with their Botanical Vodka, which uses an infusion of the same botanicals used for the brand’s gin – sea pink, marsh marigold, meadow sweet, and angelica. These give the vodka a “smooth and rounded” taste, making it perfect for mixing into any number of cocktails.
If you prefer to add your own floral flavors to your drink, the perfect choice of mixer is Lamb & Watt tonic water, which has recently added a “Naturally Light” variant to its product line, including flavors like Hibiscus, Basil, Cucumber, and Ginger. These tonics are made with natural ingredients and are free from artificial flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners, so they’re fitting for the growing number of health-conscious consumers.
With the cold weather upon us, people are pulling out seasonal flavors to make some interesting drinks and give traditionally warm weather cocktails, like margaritas, a wintry twist. One bartender makes a margarita with aged tequila and hibiscus syrup and serves it with a cinnamon-sugar rim. Another fun drink is the fall spice old fashioned. This drink uses apple brandy, a ginger-infused bourbon, orange bitters, and a fall spice syrup consisting of sugar, water, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, clove, vanilla extract, cardamom, and star anise. For the more adventurous drinker among us, Aged Eggnog may be just what the bartender ordered. Nick Bennett, bartender at Porchlight, discovered that his eggnog base – eggs, sugar, and booze – got better after sitting in the fridge for a year, with elements of pineapple and banana coming through.
In addition to interesting cocktail twists, there are some innovative spirits gaining traction among bartenders. Aquavit is a Scandinavian spirit that is flavored with caraway and other botanicals like dill and anise. This once-niche spirit has recently become a way for distillers and bartenders to set themselves apart. Traditionally it is served neat, but many bartenders are using it as a cocktail ingredient. Additionally, Sorel is the take on a centuries-old Caribbean recipe that is being brought to the masses. Sorel merges the best varieties from different Caribbean islands and is made in small batches using Brazilian clove, Indonesian cassia, Nigerian ginger, Indonesian nutmeg, Moroccan hibiscus, pure cane sugar, and organic New York grain alcohol.
Unique, New Mixers
If you’ve ever had the desire to drink pickle juice from a can, you’re in luck! Gordy’s Pickle Jar in Washington, D.C. is now selling Fine Brine in a can. Fine Brine is the leftover brine from Gordy’s Hot Chili Spears, flavored with mustard seed, caraway, garlic, dill, coriander, and hot chili peppers. If pickles aren’t your thing, Republic now has an expanded line of Texas-inspired mixers, which includes classic lime, jalapeño lime, prickly pear, and grapefruit lime.
There’s a funny thing happening in the world of vodka – it’s masquerading as whiskey. The traditionally clear and subtly-flavored liquor is popping up with new colors and flavors thanks to barrel-aging. Resting the vodkas in barrels introduces oak, vanilla, and sometimes caramel flavors into the spirit along with a honey-amber hue – the boldness of these attributes depends on the type of barrel and duration of the vodka’s stay. Though this may pose problems for both vodka and whiskey purists, these vodkas are currently receiving praise and awards worldwide.
Anheuser-Busch recently introduced a limited retro-style beer for the holidays. Budweiser 1933 Repeal Reserve Amber Lager comes from a recipe Adolphus Busch used for a special brew in 1920, but was never distributed beyond the St. Louis area because of Prohibition. The beer has a 6.1% ABV, a “light, hoppy aroma and rich caramel-malt taste,” and comes in a vintage Budweiser stubby bottle.
Tarukino,Inc. is setting out to alter the minds of cannabis consumers and provide an alternative to smoking. The Seattle-based group, whose product line already boasts a popular cannabis-infused apple juice and a food and beverage mixer, is introducing a line of six new infused beverages, including a diet apple juice, a sparkling apple beverage, a calorie-free sparkling water, sparkling Champagne, barley soda, and a flavorless mixer. The beverages are infused using Tarukino’s proprietary emulsion technology, which produces a taste- and odor-free water soluble cannabis product. Puration, a cannabis product company based in Dallas, has a psychoactive cannabis beverage in the works, which would be launched in Canada next year after the anticipated legalization of recreational marijuana. Puration already produces EVERx CBD Infused Water, a non-THC infused cannabis sports water, but CEO Brian Shibley sees the Canadian market as “a much bigger opportunity than EVERx.” Not wanting to miss out on a growing opportunity in Canada, Constellation Brands – the producers of Corona in the United States – have announced a nearly 10% stake purchase in Canadian medical marijuana producer, Canopy. Constellation says that its plans include marijuana-infused fruit drinks, coffee, and soda in states where legalization has already occurred. The announcement comes on the heels of Lagunitas limited release of SuperCritical, an IPA made from the aromatic compounds of fragrant oils of the cannabis plant, but does not contain THC.
Make whey for Tofu-based Booze
This beverage, called Sachi, is the result of an experiment by Singapore graduate student, Chua Jian-Yong. Jian-Yong decided to use tofu whey as a wine ingredient, and to his surprise, the results were a tasty “fruity and floral“ blend. Sachi has an alcohol content of 7-8% and is produced with a zero-waste fermentation process that could put the byproducts of the growing tofu market to good use.
Bone Broth Beverages
No longer just for soups and cooking, bone broth is being introduced into a variety of beverages. Bartenders are mixing up cocktails with this savory addition to add a new element to cold weather drinking. Some potential concoctions include a chicken soup hot toddy, or a Bull Shot – a Bloody Mary with beef stock instead of tomato juice. And jumping on the functional coffee bandwagon with bulletproof coffee is Broffee, a ombination of coffee, chickpea miso, grass-fed beef broth, organic unsweetened cocoa, and spices, introduced by company BRU Broth.
A growing trend among sleep and calorie deprived techies – adding butter to coffee – is now being bottled up by Austin-based Picnik. The creamy blend, which claims to boost energy and promote productivity, is being offered in Mocha Latte, Cappuccino, and Dirty Chai. Getting in on the butter coffee craze, Grass Fed Coffee is creating a cold brew version made with grass fed butter and engineered for the Keto diet.
What’s Hot in Cold Brew
The cold brew trend doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon, as several companies continue to innovate with this concept. New York-based Rise Brewing Company has come up with two new flavor additions to their line-up, Nitro Lemonade and Nitro Blood Orange Coffee, which add a tart and refreshing twist on their existing nitro coffee products. Meanwhile, Starbucks has developed a process for making cold pressed espresso that pairs better with many cold liquids to increase Starbucks’ selection of cold beverages, including a Cold Pressed Ginger Fizz.
In addition to coffee, tea makers are also jumping on the cold-pressed bandwagon. Southern Breeze Sweet Tea has introduced sweet teas that come in individual tea bags designed to steep in cold water and be served over ice. Argo Tea is introducing RTD bottled cold brew tea in Darjeeling black tea, Gyokuro green tea, and Armenian Mint flavors.
Starbucks Limited Edition
Moving into the holiday season, Starbucks unveiled several new seasonal drinks to its menu. The Toasted White Chocolate Mocha and Chestnut Praline Chai Tea Latte were introduced as holiday twists on a couple of the coffee chain’s standard offerings. Imitating the decadence of black tie New Year’s celebrations, the “Black & White” line of beverages include mocha, hot chocolate, and Frappuccino options, each featuring dark and white chocolate, and topped with chocolate “sequins”. Along with these mass-marketing offerings came two very limited-edition drinks. Following in the Instagram-ready vein of the Unicorn and Zombie Frappuccinos, the Christmas Tree Frappuccino featured a Peppermint Mocha Crème Frappuccino base, along with matcha whipped cream, caramel drizzle, candied cranberries, and a strawberry topper. Finally, the limited-release and flavor innovation-forward Winter Juniper Latte blends espresso, steamed milk, and a syrup of juniper berries, sage, and mandarin orange, is topped with a sprig of sage, and is available only at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle and select U.S. stores.
Fizzy favorites are hitting the shelves in a host of new flavors! Coca-Cola is bringing two new full-sugar and fruity sodas with a “local twist” to market in 2018 in the form of Georgia Peach (celebrating the company’s Atlanta roots) and California Raspberry. Both flavors reportedly scored highly during concept and taste testing and are aimed at millennials and their desire for new and different flavors. Fanta will also be releasing a new flavor this year – Green Apple!
Not to be outdone, Pepsi tried to get in the holiday spirit with the limited release of a Salted Caramel Pepsi and Mountain Dew Holiday Brew (these two join a host of other sweet and savory holiday offerings from PepsiCo). Consumer reviews are mixed for the Pepsi, but positive overall for the Dew Brew – what’s not to like about a blend of traditional Dew and Code Red?
Last, but not least, the 100-year old North Carolina based soda company, Cheerwine, brought back its traditional Holiday Punch again this year. The punch joins the traditional wild cherry flavor of Cheerwine with ginger ale and pineapple. Consumers in North and South Carolina can purchase the punch during the holiday season, or make their own. Cheerwine director of marketing also suggests adding frozen fruit “ice cubes”, spiking it with Champagne, or using it for a sweet treat in the form of a Cheerwine float.