Ginger is making an incredible splash into Top 500 restaurant cocktails and mocktails this year, rising above most other flavors in terms of year-over-year growth in mentions on menus. Ginger root comes from the Zingiber plant, which is traditionally cultivated in South Asia, East Africa and the Caribbean. As a result, several ginger-flavored beverages are tropical Caribbean drinks, such as Bermuda’s national drink, the trademarked Dark ‘N’ Stormy. Ginger pairs well with citrus zest and garden fruits and herbs like mint, cucumber, orange, lemon and lime, making it an ideal summertime flavor. According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor database, ginger mentions have increased by an impressive 65 percent as a flavor in Top 500 specialty drinks, from 65 items in June 2012 to 107 items in June 2013.
Leading Flavors Used in Adult Beverages and Specialty Drinks By Number of Menu Mentions
Base Apr–Jun 2013 – 4,790 items on 492 restaurant menus; Apr–Jun 2012 – 4623 items on 492 restaurant menus Source: MenuMonitor, Technomic
Further, MenuMonitor data shows us that ginger has increased as a flavor most significantly in restaurant classic cocktails (92 percent) and restaurant original cocktails (61 percent) over the past year. Other notable growth categories for ginger include beer cocktails, margaritas, mojitos and sangria.
Growth in Ginger Menu Mentions by Type of Cocktail
Base Apr–Jun 2013 – 127 items on 138 restaurant menus; Apr–Jun 2012 – 78 items on 133 restaurant menus Source: MenuMonitor, Technomic
Noteworthy Ginger Mentions on Adult Beverage Menus Some recent examples of unique cocktails featuring ginger flavors and ingredients on Top 500 U.S. restaurant chain menus include:
- White Honey Sangria—Ecco Domani Moscato, Domaine De Canton ginger liqueur, Bärenjäger honey liqueur and lemon, orange and lime juices (Cantina Laredo)
- Tequila Mocking Bird—1800 reposado tequila, Domaine De Canton ginger liqueur, agave and lime juice (Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar)
- Ginger and Beer—Tito’s Handmade Vodka mixed with Domaine De Canton ginger liqueur, orange wedges, ginger beer and orange bitters, topped with beer (Joe’s American Bar & Grill)
- Eastern Spritzer—SKYY Infusions ginger vodka with muddled mint leaves and cucumber slices, topped with a splash of club soda (The Melting Pot)
- Mezcal Margarita—Siembra Azul reposado tequila, Del Maguey Vida mezcal, organic agave nectar, ginger ale and lime juice (Pappasito’s Cantina)
- Glenmorangie Ginger Blossom—Glenmorangie Original, lemon juice, honey water and ginger, shaken and served with a lemon twist (Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille)
Worth noting is that Domaine De Canton ginger liqueur saw volume growth of 10.2 percent in 2012 to 27,000 9-liter cases, according to Technomic’s 2013 SpiritsTAB report. Leading operators are also using ginger to spruce up their non-alcohol beverages—mocktails in particular. Although the data is not shown above, mocktails containing ginger increased in menu prevalence by about 15 percent at Top 500 restaurants since 2012. Two exemplary mocktails developed over the past year are Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom’s Red Berry Sparkler, with strawberries, cranberry juice, ginger ale and lime, and Romano’s Macaroni Grill’s Sicilian Splash, with blood-orange juice, San Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa, ginger ale and basil. Although ginger is currently exploding on Top 500 spring and summer adult beverage menus, alternative (and slightly adventurous) flavor pairings could smoothly transition this refreshing flavor into the fall. For example, operators may want to consider mixing muddled apples or pears, when they are in season, with a ginger-flavored ingredient and spiced rum, cinnamon liqueur or honey liqueur.