Sure, the farm-to-bar trend is forecast to be big in 2011. But mixologists take note: If you’re looking for specifics on new fruits, vegetables and herbs that have a chance to boost your cocktail business this year, check out what one of the world’s leading flavor purveyors sees on the horizon.
The farm-to-bar concept is all about sourcing sustainable ingredients from local farmers just as chefs do. The idea is to get the freshest, most flavorful ingredients possible, then use them to produce artisan-caliber cocktails. But you still have to figure out which ingredients to buy from the farmers or, even better, ask the farmer to grow for you. A handful of bars have gone so far as to grow their own ingredients in a dedicated garden outside their back doors.
It’s hard to figure out what flavors will catch on next. Some of the on-trend ingredients mixologists are turning to right now include such once-obscure items as elderflower and hyssop, to name two. Both came from out of nowhere and made it into the mainstream in short order, so let’s see what might be coming next.
Sensient Flavors, part of Indianapolis-based Sensient Technologies Corp., has just released its list of flavor trend predictions for 2011. The company’s primary business is providing flavor components to food and beverage manufacturers, so you can bet its advice is well-considered.
“Sensient’s flavor trend predictions offer food and beverage manufacturers opportunities for innovation with up-and-coming flavors that consumers will be clamoring for in the months and years ahead, ensuring that manufacturers stay ahead of the curve,” says Emil Shemer, director of food solutions at Sensient Flavors.
Here’s what Sensient Flavors thinks are the new flavors your customers will learn to crave this year:
• Aguaje: Widely grown and consumed in Peru, aguaje is a highly nutritious fruit with a bright orange flesh and a sweet taste that has been compared to a carrot.
• Berbere: An Ethiopian spice mixture, berbere is a blend of cayenne pepper, allspice, cardamom, cloves, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper and salt.
• Borojo: Grown in Colombia and Ecuador and thought to boost energy, borojo has a pleasantly sweet and sour taste.
• Ceylon Cinnamon: Used widely in England and Mexico, Ceylon cinnamon has a complex flavor with a citrus overtone and is less sweet than cassia cinnamon.
• Cherimoya: Native to Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, the cherimoya has a tropical fruit flavor with slight cream and green notes.
• Grains of Paradise: Native to Africa, these dried seeds offer a complex flavor profile with earthy, woody, citrus, herb and heat nuances.
• Hibiscus: Popular in South America and the Caribbean, hibiscus offers a tart, tangy berry flavor.
• Pandan: Grown in the tropical areas of Asia, pandan offers a uniquely sweet flavor and aroma.
• Yacon: Native to Peru, the yacon is a vegetable that has a unique flavor that is fruity and earthy and is compared most commonly with an apple.
• Yumberry: Officially known as the Yang Mei and native to China, the yumberry has a pleasantly tart and sweet flavor profile.
Can all of these work in specialty cocktails you make in your bar? Hardly. But why not pick one or two and do some experimentation? Your bar patrons are often looking for something new to drink, and something from this list might help you give it to them.