Menus Differentiate with Unique Cultural Beverages
If you follow our Blog here at Culinary Culture you know we’ve covered the ethnic trends in cuisine, but we have yet to cover the how cultural beverages can add variety and excitement to a menu. We seek to rectify that gap in this week’s blog.
We know that Thai, Filipino, Korean, and Nordic foods have seen a big push in traffic this year, but what about drinks? What cultures are pushing our palate’s boundaries through unique cultural beverages?
Let’s take a look…
It should come as no surprise Asian beverages lead the way in popularity. Their unique use of flavors and textures continue to gather the curiosity of thirsty consumers.
Photo Courtesy of DanielFoodDiary.com
Taiwanese style milk teas are taking advantage of the boba love by incorporating these chewy little orbs of tapioca texture with beverage flavors like taro and ginger. Boba simply acts as a thread tying the familiar with the unusual.
Chinese “cheese teas” are also permeating the U.S. market. These are specialty teas like oolong and matcha topped with a thick foam made from whipped milk and cream cheese. Other flavors can be added to the foams, and they can also serve as a raft for toppings and confections.
Asian cultures are also well known for their use of dramatic colors in foods. Ingredients like turmeric have become almost ubiquitous in the beverage market, finding its way onto menus at Starbucks and a variety of juice shops nationwide. Ube pops up in this category lending its lavender hue to many a drink and cocktail.
Photo Courtesy of Yumchaa.com
Keep a lookout for blue tea, which uses butterfly pea flowers to add an ocean blue color to your beverage which transforms into a deep purple with the addition of acid (i.e. lemon).
Mexico is becoming a real powerhouse in the realm of redefining flavors recently. The sudden and deep insertion of horchata as a commonly accepted beverage is one good example. This sweetened rice drink spiked with aromatic cinnamon can now be found in latte, smoothie, ready to drink, and boozy forms in almost every city.
Photo Courtesy of ChicanoEats.com
The next contender for beverage menu space out of Mexico will be Tejuino. Made from masa and unrefined brown sugar, this slightly fermented drink is both refreshing and tantalizing with its deep, funky, tart flavor. While commonly sold in plastic cups by street vendors in Mexico, you can now find it popping up in American communities with heavy Mexican populations.
Whatever you do, don’t let it’s size fool you. Peru is a mecca of flavor and innovation. If you need any evidence of that, look no further than chicha morada. This richly purple colored drink is prepared by boiling Peruvian purple corn in water with fruit and aromatics, then straining and sweetening it with sugar. Chicha morada is both a visual and flavor champion guaranteed to excite audiences.
Image Courtesy of PiscoTrail.com
I can’t be the only one to notice the recent uptick in Pisco Sours at bars and restaurants. Made with a few simple ingredients and finished with an egg white foam, the pisco sour offers the right balance of challenge, showmanship, and balanced flavors to make them a favorite during cocktail hour.
And, just as a side note, if you haven’t had Inca Kola, do so. Totally worth it.
That’s it for our discussion on cultural beverages. We’ll keep watch for other unique flavors and ingredients that materialize on the beverage front.
Be sure to let us know what you’ve seen, or hope to see, hit the markets.