Consumers’ perpetual quest for new, exotic flavors combined with the demand for low-to-no alcohol has resulted in a renewed excitement within the beverage category. And while botanical bitters aren’t anything new (think Aperol and Campari), their distinct profiles are seeing a resurgence of popularity within the flavorful low ABV space. Due to this, I set out to develop a modern take on the aperitif, a traditionally lower alcohol pre-meal spirit. Inspired by Asian flavors, I created a Spicy Calamansi Aperitif which can be enjoyed on its own or mixed into a cocktail. The taste: peel-forward, dry mandarin orange citrus notes upfront, followed by herbal notes, then balanced sweetness and bitterness, and finally rounded out with a tingling burn from Szechuan pepper.
The inspiration for this product was two-fold. First, I utilized two bitters flavors that were developed in collaboration with our counterparts at Giotti, our flavor house in Florence, Italy. A Negroni with an Italian Bitters flavor plus added bitter compounds amp up the bitterness. Though not found in traditional aperitifs, I was also inspired by the flavors of Asian cuisine. The citrus notes come from the South East Asian Calamansi fruit, which has distinct sour orange and sweet lime notes. Cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and Szechuan pepper are featured to add authentic Asian flair. The resulting aperitif is complex yet pleasantly balanced with citrus, herbal, bitter and spicy notes. These flavors can add an ‘East meets West’ element to any beverage innovation.
To get started on your next bold and authentic beverage project, contact your McCormick account manager or contact us today.