They say good things come in threes. That certainly fits some of latest findings from Mintel Menu Insights, the foodservice business of Mintel, a leading global market intelligence agency. Mintel finds some of the top restaurant beverage trends involve cold coffee drinks, floral flavors and mocktails. 


Hot Market: Cold Coffee Drinks

AFH (Away from home) coffee is a highly competitive segment within the restaurant industry and in order to build their afternoon sales, most operators are promoting their cold coffee drinks. According to Mintel Menu Insights, iced coffee on US menus increased 84% from Q1 2015 to Q1 2018, with fast casual and casual dining restaurants experiencing the strongest growth of iced/cold brew coffee on menus. 

Adding a selection of cold coffee drinks can help a restaurant attract younger consumers. According to Mintel’s Coffee and Tea On Premise US 2018 report, 28% of iGens cite flavored iced coffee as the coffee drink they order away from home most often, compared to 17% of Millennials and 10% of Gen X. 

Flavorful cold coffee drinks can help a restaurant build loyalty among young iGens; however, operators must also recognize that many iGens will eventually “age out” of flavored coffee. As iGens get older, many will likely start drinking high quality “third wave” coffees.


Floral Flavors Bloom

The use of floral flavors and ingredients is one of the most popular trends within the cocktail market. In fact, the use of floral flavors in cocktails increased 85% from Q1 2015 to Q1 2018. Much of this growth is attributed to the use of St Germain Elderflower Liqueur; however, there has been strong directional growth of other floral flavors such as lavender, rose, and violet. The light, sweet, fresh flavor of flowers makes floral cocktails a popular drink during spring and summer. 

The influence of floral cocktails is now spreading to retail beverages. Floral-flavored teas are becoming increasingly common as are drinks with rose water. Beverages made with floral ingredients stand out on the shelf and are not too unique as to alienate the average consumer. 


Make It a Mocktail

Many consumers enjoy drinking at bars/restaurants, but there are numerous reasons why consumers wouldn’t order a drink at a restaurant; the high price of drinks, being the designated driver, for health reasons, or simply abstaining from alcohol in general.

In the past, those consumers who didn’t/couldn’t drink were stuck with water or regular carbonated soft drinks. Nowadays, mocktails provide an appealing alternative to those who don’t want an alcoholic beverage but still want a unique, hand-crafted drink.

Mocktails are becoming a trendy option at restaurants, with mocktails on menus increasing 16% from Q1 2015 to Q1 2018. Much of the growth in mocktails comes from fine dining restaurants, where mocktails can be just as complex as a traditional cocktail.

The growth of mocktails coincides with consumers’ interest in wellness as mocktails can also appeal to consumers who want to live a more healthful lifestyle.  

Originally appeared in the August, 2018 issue of Prepared Foods as Good Things Come in Threes.