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Inspired Tastes

Flavors with a Tingle

November 2021 | Marketing & Insights

Bland taste is out, and bold flavors are taking center stage. Fresh condiments, hot sauces, and spice blends are on the rise, especially as home chefs become more comfortable in the kitchen and feel ready to branch out.

But food isn’t the only home of dynamic new flavor; beverages are bringing sensory experiences of their own, too. Cocktails, teas, and lemonades are teaming up with spicy flavors such as habanero, peppercorn, and ancho chile. There’s room to combine the whole spectrum of taste, bringing sweetness, tartness, and spice together to create unique beverages.


More and more consumers are specifically looking for products that they can take with them on a sensory journey - on the one hand to satisfy their wanderlust, on the other hand to escape from everyday life and treat themselves to a culinary break. - Austria Juice

A survey of college and university foodservice professionals about Gen Z appetites found a preference for hot, spicy, and more adventurous flavors. -
Food Management

Spicy-Sour Combinations

Alcoholic beverages are no strangers to bold flavor combinations. The unique profiles of various liquors can be taken to the next level with added fruits and spices.


While everything from soda to tomato juice can be used as a mixer, Avec Drinks has taken its own approach with its better-for-you line of carbonated mixers launched in summer of 2020. This includes their jalapeno and blood orange flavor, which combines blood orange, calamansi (a Southeast Asian citrus fruit), and jalapenos. Its spicy, tart, and slightly sweet flavors can be enjoyed on their own or added to tequila, vodka, or mezcal for a delicious and dynamic mixed drink.

For a completely standalone spicy-sour combo, there’s Dry Fly’s Spicy Lemonade. This grown-up take on the classic summertime beverage starts with a zesty house-made lemonade, then adds Dry Fly’s award-winning Washington vodka infused with jalapenos and habaneros. It’s the perfect cocktail-on-the-go, with tartness, sweetness, and a kick of heat all in one can.

Taking Texture to the Next Level

Flavor isn’t the only way to enhance a delicious beverage. Texture is another way to achieve a truly unique drink, bringing forth different flavors while providing a full sensory experience for the eyes, mouth, and taste buds.


La Cuevita Bar in Los Angeles has taken texture up a notch with their Valley of the Dark Lords cocktail. The drink mixes mezcal, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, cherry liqueur, and orange juice, with turmeric powder for a murky appearance and chia seeds to imitate creatures floating in the liquid. Bartender Sol Trece cites Star Wars as an inspiration for her unique take on a Blood & Sand cocktail. But the drink not only boasts a strange, otherworldly look; it also combines spicy liqueur, tangy orange juice, and chia seeds to create a texturous, flavorful delight for all of the senses.


  • Sweet, sour, and spicy can be combined in new and interesting ways in beverages. Don’t be afraid to mix bold tastes and ingredients together.
  • Citrus and heat pair well together. Look to popular beverages that consumers already know about (i.e. lemonades, agua frescas) and reinvent them with spicy or heat-inducing ingredients.
  • Texture can be a powerful tool for reinventing classic drinks or building entirely new ones. Play with ingredients that add flavor and a unique mouthfeel.

Allow us to support your tasty, tingly beverage innovation. Contact your McCormick account manager or contact us today.