In the sweltering summer months, many people indulge in icy beverages to keep them cool and help them unwind. The food service industry is jumping at the opportunity to serve up unique and indulgent summertime treats to suit any taste. One particular beverage that has seen much innovation is the margarita. Once found predominately in Mexican restaurants, the margarita is now being featured on a broad range of menus across all dining segments. Mintel Menu Insights has tracked more than 500 margaritas on the American menu in the first quarter of this year, with the most popular flavor infusions ranging from traditional to tropical fruits.
Fruit flavors compliment tequila and dominate the margarita sector, with strawberry, raspberry, mango and peach topping the list of most popular margarita flavors on the American menu. According to Mintel Menu Insights, these top flavors accounted for more than 30% of all margaritas on the menu in the first quarter of this year.
Casual eatery Red Robin makes its very own Mango Margarita, which mixes Cuervo Gold, Grand Marnier and mango for a refreshing summertime drink with tropical island appeal. Mango-flavored margaritas in particular are on the upswing, demonstrating an 18% increase from Q1 2007 to Q1 2008. For patrons seeking a more traditional summertime flavor, California Pizza Kitchen features its Strawberry Margarita with Cuervo Gold tequila, triple sec, fresh squeezed lime juice and strawberry puree.
Recently, margarita purveyors have exhibited much innovation and creativity, using unique fruits and spices. Many original combinations are also appearing on margarita menus for a signature spin on this versatile cocktail. Pomegranate has experienced meteoric growth on the cocktail menu, with a 56% year-over-year increase in margaritas alone.
At upscale Mexican eatery Border Grill, diners looking for a little kick with their cocktail can enjoy a Ginger Pomegranate Margarita. This innovative libation incorporates Don Julio Blanco tequila, muddled ginger, fresh orange juice and pomegranate. At T.G.I. Friday’s, diners can enjoy a sweet treat with the Fresh Raspberry Cherry 'Rita. This creation blends Cuervo Gold tequila, raspberry puree, cherry syrup, Leroux triple sec, margarita rocks mix and topped off with a sprig of mint.
As restaurants become more creative with their cocktail menus, many are breaking convention to incorporate ingredients from the garden. Mint, basil, ginger and cilantro are just a few examples of unique cocktail incorporations.
One of the most unique margarita ingredients spotted recently is avocado. At Aldeco Mexican Cuisine restaurant, diners can enjoy the signature Avocado Margarita. Fresh, light and creamy, the Avocado Margarita is made with Mexican Hass avocados, fresh lime juice, tequila, triple sec and served frozen in a martini glass rimmed with chili-lime salt. At upscale Asian eatery Chaya, diners can enjoy two cocktail favorites in one with the Mojito Margarita. This drink includes Mojito Island mix, fresh lemon-lime juice, triple sec and is garnished with fresh mint and lime.
Margaritas have proven to be a successful medium for flavorful experimentation in Mexican cuisine and beyond. Consumers are becoming more curious and willing to try new and exotic flavors, while the staple ingredients of the classic margarita prove to be supreme accompaniments for cocktail ingenuity. Long after the summer months melt away, unique flavors and exciting experiments in margaritas are sure to persist.
Mintel Menu Insights tracks trends through data sourced from the 350 largest US chain restaurants and 150 independent restaurants. Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) tracks new product launches, trends and innovations internationally. For more information, visit www.mintel.com or call 1-312-932-0600.