Make a Splash with Housemade Beverages

Chef's Corner: Make a Splash with Housemade Beverages

ELEONORA LAHUD, Research Chef, Domino Foods, Inc.

Eleonora has a degree in Food Science and is a Certified Baker from the American Institute of Baking, with management studies in Barcelona, Spain. She has experience working with leading global food companies in research & development, technical sales, consumer engagement and catering.

What are some benefits of offering housemade beverages?

One of the greatest benefits is your bottom line. Margins in beverages are high-profit, and there is a low cost associated with making them. Housemade beverages also allow the operator to differentiate themselves and can serve as a connection to the cuisine that is offered. For example, operators offering Mexican food can benefit from a colorful display of Agua Frescas on their menu.

How can independent operators introduce housemade beverages onto their menu?

Introducing housemade beverages onto a menu is a low risk/high reward decision for any restaurant. The first step in deciding what beverages to serve is to consider your cuisine. Your beverage menu should complement your food menu and your operation. For example, restaurants with Mediterranean cuisine could benefit from offering an array of different lemonade flavors. Keep in mind the importance of selecting high-quality and trending ingredients. Offer a variety of drinks on a rotating system depending on seasonality. That way the freshest ingredients are available at a low cost. Presentation is also important. Consider color, ice type, and garnishes when developing a beverage menu. These details matter.

What are some simple, cost-effective ways for operators to ensure a high ROI?

Make sure your beverage menu is visible in the operation. Do not hide it in the back of the menu, bring it forward. For quick service restaurants, it’s important that customers see how the beverage is being prepared. This adds to the experience and ensures transparency. Be sure to be descriptive in communicating your operation’s investments in quality ingredients.  For example, menu that the drink is made with cane sugar or organic sugar rather than simply “sugar”.  Finally, get innovative and have fun. Create a base drink, like a lemonade, and play around with the ingredients to make it more sophisticated. You will be able to charge more for that drink without drastically increasing costs.

What trends are you seeing in housemade beverages?

Health and wellness beverages are definitely on trend. Consumers, and millennials in particular, are driving this trend. They look for beverages that no only quench their thirst, but that also offer healthful benefits. A good example of this is kombucha.

Specialty iced teas and lemonades are on the rise. Many consumers are looking to switch from their traditional soft drinks to a well-crafted lemonade or iced tea. Some operators are using flavors like blood orange, cucumber mint, and lavender elderflower. Cold press juices, smoothies and craft sodas are trending as well.

And don’t forget nitro. Nitro cold brews are extremely popular with consumers. Don’t be surprised if nitro starts to be used outside coffee applications in lemonades and iced teas.

What seasonality trends do you see in craft beverages?

With warmer weather, lemonade and iced tea are in high demand. Flavors like watermelon limeade or mango iced tea can sound very tempting with temperatures above 80 degrees. Crafted sodas are also in demand during warmer months.  An easy beverage idea is to simply combine Tate+Lyle® Gourmet Peach Syrup with club soda, plenty of ice and garnish with fresh peaches. It’s fresh and feels premium, but the execution is simple. Your customers will surely come back for more.

What do you feel drives consumers to purchase a beverage?

Today, consumers are looking for nourishing, on-the-go fresh ingredients. Functionality and health benefits are definitely influencing sales of beverages, but ultimately, flavor is the main influencer on purchasing a beverage.


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