Sips & Stirs Inspiration: Heat + Cool | McCormick Flavor Solutions
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Postcards from the Bench

Sips & Stirs Inspiration: Heat + Cool

May 2021 | Patrick, Associate Scientist

Sips & Stirs is our unique drink insights platform that engages audiences through the stories that come out of beverage immersions across the US. In early 2020 (pre-COVID), that meant sampling over 300 beverages across Austin, Atlanta and San Diego with a cross functional McCormick team made up of folks from culinary, Marketing and PD. (And yes, you read that right … 300 beverages!)  These discoveries helped identify flavor trends for everything from coffee to cocktails.

Assigned to San Diego, I was eager to partake in the laid-back surfer culture of the city. I quickly found that the drinks fit the vibe. While visiting You & Yours Distillery Co. I sipped on a drink uniquely named, “Do you Want That Spicy?” The menu described it as: “Sunday gin, grapefruit, lime, cucumber, sea salt, Topo Chico, Serrano bitters.” My team described it as: “Warm heating and cooling sensations coexisting within a cheeky cocktail thanks to hot serrano peppers and chilled cucumber.”

The cocktail fits perfectly into a trend we’re calling Sensorial Spiced – meaning contrasting heat and cool experiences. When we pair heat with an opposing taste sensation (cool, tangy, savory) one can enjoy a multi-sensorial experience with every sip. Heat-inducing ingredients are purposefully paired with cooling flavors for a noticeable juxtaposition on the palette.

Naturally, I was excited to recreate this taste experience with our own flavors of cucumber, serrano pepper, and gin. In an alcohol-free sparkling mocktail the cucumber delivers that fresh cooling upon first sip. Then you taste juniper, followed by the green serrano finishing heat. Complex and refreshing, it’s the perfect mocktail for the patio or poolside on a warm day. The combination has legs in a hard seltzer or alcoholic drink, too. Some like it hot, and some like it cool. Now you don’t have to choose!

Feeling thirsty? Feeling inspired? Let’s collaborate to bring heat and cool contrasting flavors to your beverage innovation today. Also, reach out to learn more about Sips & Stirs.