Pour on the FlavoR

2024 Food & Flavor Outlook        September 2024          Custom Culinary®

Sipping on Inspiration header image

Flavor inspiration for restaurant offerings and product innovations can be found everywhere… including the beverage menu! Beloved drink flavors and unique regional beverages are crossing over into exciting new applications.  

From effervescent soda and champagne batters to hearty bourbon and coffee dry rubs, adaptations of beverage flavors help operators and manufacturers play into the sweet-and-smoky, sweet-and-salty and sweet-and-savory flavor combinations that today’s consumers love.

Proteins braised in wine can be found around the world, often with callouts to varietals specific to a region or cooking style. Sauces and marinades featuring beer, whiskey and sake are also known to pair well with a variety of proteins. New innovations, such as cocktail-inspired spice blends, bring creative touches to the category.


  • Drunken shrimp marinated in Shaoxing wine and Chinese herbs (Taiwan)

  • Ready-to-heat meal featuring coffee-roasted pork tenderloin (Thailand)

  • Gin and tonic marinade seasoning, with fruity and citric flavors for fish, poultry and vegetables (Germany)

The snack category is full of exciting food and beverage crossover products, across sweet and savory items alike. Hot cocoa almonds, frozen rosé sorbet and lemonade popcorn deliver surprising, yet familiar, flavor profiles. Snacks with functional claims related to energy and alertness also come across with coffee and tea flavors such as chai and matcha. 


  • Alcohol flavors in crisp form, like Italian wine and cheese popped potato chips (India)

  • A play on sweet and salty with melon soda-flavored rice puffs (Japan)

  • Matcha and Greek yogurt-coated granola balls (Mexico) 

For operators, beverage flavors create memorable experiences and differentiate the menu. Unexpected descriptors such as “wild-mushroom-infused sake butter” and “sweet tea brined chicken wings” make standard dishes extraordinary. Geography also plays a role, as chefs incorporate regional cocktails and spirits such as Balinese arak, Puerto Rican coquito and Spanish kalimotxo beyond the beverage menu for a spin on local tradition.


  • A variation of Indian chole puri, with chickpeas soaked in black tea before being stewed with tomatoes and aromatic spices (UK)

  • Brewpub offering signature pizza crust made with beer spent grain paste instead of water (US)

  • Rustic apple pie with cachaça cream, made from a fermented sugar cane spirit (Brazil)

Beverage inspiration brings an element of nostalgia and whimsy to food, when flavors such as lemonade and horchata pop up in milkshakes, pies and granola bars. Green tea salted tempura, chamomile mayonnaise, mojito pulled pork and root beer caramelized onions are just a few of the possibilities that can emerge through creative applications of beverage flavors.


FOODSERVICE: Sweeter menu items like doughnuts are taking inspiration from coffeehouse beverages. Chefs are also using global spirits such as Brazilian cachaça to enhance their dishes.
Alcohol and coffee are among the most prevalent protein flavor platforms, with brands infusing liquor, beer, wine and espresso into ready-meals, sauces and seasonings.  
Tea varietals such as matcha, chai, Earl Grey and oolong are being used to flavor CPG snacks, along with fun cocktail flavors like frosé, espresso martini and champagne.



Chef Jordana Britt takes a beloved Canadian beverage, the Caesar, and uses its iconic flavors to enliven crispy croquettes in her Caesar-Spiked Seafood Fritters. Griffith Foods Spicy Caesar Seasoning brings notes of tomato, spice and clam to the seafood filling as well as the breading system. Chef Britt also incorporates the product into a mayonnaise-based dipping sauce. Watch the video to see this flavor story come to life!


Orange Chicken Recipe Image

Reinventing Classic Orange Chicken 

Orange soda brings a sparkling touch to the glaze of a beloved entrée. The fizzy nature of the beverage-inspired sauce serves as a perfect complement to a light tempura batter, creating a cohesive dish.

Close-up of Orange Chicken Recipe

Orange Soda Chicken

Crispy tempura-fried chicken and thinly sliced Fresno chilies tossed in a zesty Mandarin orange soda glaze, served over a bed of pea shoots and scallion rice, garnished with sesame seeds.


Incredible sauces, marinades and seasonings bring hints of popular beverages to new applications across menus and retail offerings. Contact your Griffith Foods representative to learn how our versatile products can enhance your culinary creations.


Bubbly soda flavors, bright fruits, complex coffee and bold chilies highlight just some of our seasonings, which can enhance snacks and proteins alike.

• Sweet Tea Poultry Brine
• Espresso and Ancho Chile Rub
• Thai Lemongrass and Cola Marinade

• Black Cherry Soda and Chocolate Snack Seasoning

Sauces and Dressings

Balanced flavor profiles with touches of sweetness and slightly bitter notes bring an appealing complexity to rich signature sauces.  

• Root Beer BBQ Sauce
• Coffee Liqueur Dulce de Leche Sauce


Unique products inspired by beverages, such as a dessert curd inspired by a Peruvian purple corn drink, add differentiation with ease.

• Hibiscus, Ginger and Lemon Kombucha Glaze
• Orange Soda and Ginger Glaze
• Chicha Morada Curd


From sweetly indulgent sips to popular alcoholic beverages, drink flavors are finding their way into new culinary formats across categories. What’s coming next?


Specific notes within alcohol, coffee and tea profiles—e.g. sparkling rosé, Japanese whiskey and Arabica coffee—will add nuance to flavor positioning and experiences.


Brands incorporating coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages as flavor platforms will highlight the inherent energy-boosting benefits of these beverages, in addition to flavor.


Chefs will take inspiration from beverages that are relevant to their local regions, infusing those flavors across categories—think lassi, agua fresca, sake and more.

2024 Food & Flavor Footer

Bret Thorn, “Pizza and beer come together in a single menu item,” Restaurant Hospitality, December 5, 2023.
Mintel, 2024 FlavorIQ® Food and Flavor Outlook Report, January 2024.


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*Custom Culinary® is part of the Griffith Foods family of companies.