According to Flavorman (Louisville, KY), drink flavors that tingle, comfort, and function in a socially distant landscape, are the drink flavor trends to watch for in 2021.
Flavors that tingle are those that impart a burning, cooling, or other type of stimulating sensory experience. This translates into spicy flavors such as ancho chile, habanero, and Indian peppercorn for ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails, teas, and lemonades. For cooling flavors, menthol-heavy pairings such as peppermint-mocha cream and lemon-coconut eucalyptus will dominate seltzers, premium coffee, juice drinks, and more.
“We’ve had a considerable uptick in client requests for flavors that deliver varying degrees and styles of heat, smoke, and spice,” said Tom Gibson, Flavorman’s chief flavorist, in a press release. “But we’ve also seen an increase in requests for flavors with that fresh, cooling rush you’d get from chewing a stick of mint gum.”
Flavors that comfort are those that provide a soothing constant in 2021. Mainstays such as grapefruit, lemon, and lime will continue to be popular, but consumers will look for enhanced versions of these familiar profiles by grounding them in specific locations of interest.
“Tracing flavors to a specific region creates a transportive experience that helps differentiate an otherwise standard flavor,” explained Kristen Wemer, Flavorman’s director of beverage development, in a press release. “As the market continues to saturate with the usual essentials, consumers can expect more diversity and premiumization through varietals of familiar flavors.”
Nostalgia and indulgence will also see the return of classic favorites but in unexpected, more sophisticated forms. Wemer said flavors such as smokey vanilla cold brew, bubble gum seltzer, or a fruit-punch gin cocktail will bring back childhood flavors. And old-fashioned classics like peanut butter, orange creamsicle, and grape cotton candy in concepts like hard coffee, energy drinks, and craft soda will make a splash with consumers.
Flavors that function offer consumers various health and wellness benefits. This trend will continue in 2021 with drinks that boast immunity, cognitive, and mood-boosting benefits. Expect fragrant flavors like hibiscus, elderflower, and orange blossom to be combined with berry, botanical, and citrus elements in teas, enhanced waters, flavored kombucha, and more.