Bold flavours for drinks 2023

January 9, 2023

Bold flavours for drinks

Prepare for a boom in bold flavours for drinks through 2023 and beyond – Simpsons trend predictions

2023 will be the year to go bold. As global challenges hamper the ‘go big’ mentality, it’s anticipated consumers will instead define quality through distinctive, daring flavours.

Bold flavours for drinks will offer consumers feelings of adventure in a way that’s affordable and accessible in the face of rising living costs.

Bold flavours are also a natural progression from recent shifts to flavour-focused approaches behind food and drink trends. Consumers are increasingly interested in maximising ingredients or preparation techniques to bring out sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavours. And younger groups, fuelled by ‘you only live once’ attitudes (YOLO), are seeking more from their purchases and experiences.

Here’s how we see bold flavours for drinks delivering escapism and joy in 2023:

Salty but sweet – blurring the lines with ‘swalty’ combinations

Salt-led bold flavours for drinks are already poised for big things in 2023, leading to a rising interest in sweet and salty flavours. Coined ‘swalty’, this fusion blurs the lines between salty and sweet, creating bitter, herby or even spiced desserts and drinks.

We’re all well accustomed to certain swalty flavours by now, with the hugely popular salted caramel used everywhere from salted caramel liqueur to milkshakes and even beers.

As salt and spices make their way into desserts, expect to see swalty creations in drinks too. We’re picturing Marmite-garnished Margaritas, or simple-but-effective salty pink grapefruit cocktails and salted chocolate coffee syrups.

salted chocolate coffee syrup

The swalty trend is influenced in part by the popularity of distinctive Asian flavours like Japanese miso, which has a salty-but-sweet richness. It’s also another post-pandemic flavour trend, as multi-sensory offerings make up for missed experiences and lost senses of taste and smell.


International influence – Asian and Mexican flavour fusions

As bold flavours for drinks offer escapism, there are some key ‘destinations’ drinkers want to be transported to.

Asian flavours offer a range of tastes for adventurous consumers, from healthy to familiar to indulgent. Japanese cuisine has already inspired a range of fusion drinks, from floral flavoured spirits to sweet soft drinks infused with savoury notes. A range of Asian flavours like yuzu and shiso are the new go-to botanicals for cocktails.

There will be continued buzz around Mexican flavours too, as its rich culture and cuisine appeal to consumers. Rich flavoured spirits like tequila, mezcal and agave will continue to grow in popularity through 2023, suiting ‘more is more’ drinks trends. Tequila is fast becoming the spirit, with flavoured options enticing apprehensive drinkers.

Other Latino spirits won’t be far behind either. ‘New’ Haitian clairin is rising in popularity while classic Caribbean rums are being reimagined by adding ingredients like coffee, citrus or even seaweed to the fermentation process.

Expect to see seemingly simple fusions help Asian and Mexican drinks move further into the mainstream too, such as mezcal and baijiu reinventing cocktail classics. Swap out the tequila to create a Mezcal Margarita for an easy route into this trendy spirit. Or go bold with baijiu, with different categories of the Chinese spirit working with rum in a Daiquiri or offering a twist to an Old Fashioned.

coffee rum cocktail

Sending signals – the rise of smoked flavouring

For distinctive drinks, expect to see aromatic, smokey offerings on more menus. Smoked flavouring is increasingly being used to create both rich and healthy foods. Now it’s gradually translating across to drinks too.

There are already some unusual options available, including smoked beers and ciders, as well as smoked flavoured spirits like tequila and gin. And since London Cocktail Week saw smoked flavouring added to fiery Margaritas, we’re anticipating this mix of smokey and Mexican flavours accelerating both drink trends.

Drawing on the established trend for unusual or interesting preparation techniques, smoked flavouring can be developed through burning or torching ingredients. In this way, toasty or nutty flavours like burnt white chocolate or torched marshmallow can translate into syrups for coffees or milkshakes. Similarly, syrups inspired by s’mores infused with halva, a popular Middle Eastern confectionery, will offer added nutty, sweetness to drinks.

coffee with torched marshmallow

While smokiness typically comes from preparation techniques, smoked flavouring can also come from base ingredients, like molasses or chipotle. We’re expecting these to become go-to bold flavours for drinks, creating richly flavoured spirits, unusual coffee syrups, or smoked fruit mixers to complement whisky and rum.

Year-round flavour – spiced drinks

As Christmas has come to a close, some festive flavours will fall out of a favour. But we expect spices will continue to create bold flavours for drinks year-round.

We’re already familiar with winter spiced drinks, with cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon all laced through warming mulled wines and full-bodied flavoured spirits like whiskeys and rums. Spices can add depth to non-alcoholic spirits too, with pink peppercorns, chilli flakes and even balsamic enhancing alcohol-free offerings.

The growing appeal of Middle Eastern cuisine, and the long-lasting love for Indian foods supports spiced dessert and drink trends too. For those trying dry January, a masala lemonade will be a spicy alternative to alcohol, while Turkish Delight milkshakes will give a softer but still zingy drink option.turkish delight milkshake


Tangfastic – tart and sour drinks

Finally, for the most distinctive drinks flavours, we’re expecting to see many more tart and sour drinks on menus.

These suit wider drink trends for both sustainably sourced ingredients and creative preparation. Tart and sour drinks can be both naturally derived, using citrus or berry bases, and creatively prepared, through fermentation, ageing or pickling.

Pickle juice has already made its way into the mainstream as a go-to for athletes in energy drinks, offering quick rehydration and supporting good gut health. With a sweet, vinegary taste, pickle juice suits the both the ‘swalty’ and tart and sour drinks trends. ‘Pickle pops’ – using fermented sweet fruits in floral vinegars for cocktails or mocktails – are already on menus and could quickly translate into pickle flavoured slushies.

Tart and sour drinks flavours work well for flavoured spirits too, such as a sharp-flavoured yuzu vodka, or a softer pomelo gin, or taking typical fruits and flavours and pickling them for cocktails or ginger beers. For the most daring drinkers, create pickle shots by chasing whiskey shots with pickle brine – not for the faint hearted!

pickle backs

These flavours can cross over into other drink trends too. A whipped lemonade offers a tangy twist on traditional milkshakes. Made by blending lemonade with ice and cream, a whipped lemonade is sweet, tart and creamy all at the same time.

Tart flavours can also give enough of a kick to be an appealing alternative to alcohol. Again, expect to see Asian flavours suit this trend – tangy lemongrass, or zesty kaffir lime will give an alcohol-free, citrus-rich burst in non-alcoholic spirits.

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