Alcohol-Infused Desserts Elevate Full-Service Menus

Leading full-service restaurants, particularly casual-dining concepts, are kicking up their dessert menus a notch with boozy sweets. While niche independent dessert concepts serving alcohol-infused cupcakes or doughnuts have been popping up in cities over the past two years, this trend is now making its way onto top chain menus. From baked goods to pudding, Top 500 FSRs are adding an enhanced, gourmet touch to their desserts using liquors and liqueurs.

According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor database, alcohol mentions in baked goods grew by 12.5% on Top 500 dessert menus over the past year. Fast-growing liquors and liqueurs include rum, whiskey, amaretto, Baileys Irish Cream and bourbon; the trendy bourbon grew by a notable 167% on Top 500 dessert menus since the first quarter of 2014. This is largely attributable to bourbon-pecan combinations, which are trending across pies and tarts.

Some new craveable alcohol-infused desserts on leading menus include:

  • Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar’s Deconstructed Balvenie S’more infused with Balvenie DoubleWood Scotch whisky
  • Houlihan’s Grand Cappuccino Cake with Kahlúa fudge
  • LongHorn Steakhouse’s Bourbon Pecan Tart, served warm with hot fudge and vanilla bean ice cream and finished with a caramel drizzle
  • Marlow’s Tavern’s Bourbon Bread Pudding
  • Quaker Steak & Lube’s Chocolate Stout Cake, four layers of dark-chocolate stout sponge cake with fudge ganache, featuring hints of malt and coffee

LongHorn Steakhouse’s seasonal Bourbon Pecan Tart

Source: Company Website

Source: Company Website

What’s next for alcohol-infused desserts?

We can expect casual-dining restaurants to take a cue from the independent sector and begin to incorporate newly trending alcohols into their desserts. Beyond rum and bourbon staples, expect desserts to feature more complex alcohol profiles, from mezcal to fruit-infused brandies to ginger beers. Some independent restaurants exemplifying this trend are:

  • Prohibition Bakery in New York City—cupcakes include a Bee’s Knees, with lemon, honey, gin, orange and bee pollen, and a Margarita, with lime, tequila, triple sec and fleur de sel
  • Delightful Pastries in Chicago—boozy doughnuts include Vanilla Bean and Vodka Custard, Chocolate Custard and Godiva Chocolate Liqueur and Passion Fruit and Grand Marnier Jelly varieties
  • Limoncello Ristorante in West Chester, PA—menus Limoncello Cake from Full Spirited Flavours, a company that sells its boozy cakes online and in restaurants, infusing alcohol into both cakes and glazes. The warm, buttery Limoncello Cake is made with Limoncello liqueur and white-chocolate pieces and finished with Limoncello glaze and crumb topping

Limoncello Ristorante’s Full Spirited Flavours’ Limoncello Cake




Jill Failla

Jill Failla is Editor of Consumer Research at Technomic Inc. in Chicago. She currently provides menu analysis and trend forecasts for the firm’s Consumer Trend Reports series.

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