Drinks Trend Spotlight: Sensory Textured Cocktails

Pop-up restaurants, multidimensional dining, and Instagrammable menus have engulfed the culinary scene. Fortunately, consumers are seeking the extravagant in 2024. This sentiment also applies to beverages; over-the-top cocktails are bigger than ever. Taste and visual appeal aside, texture can change how people experience a drink. Today, we see an influx of delightfully textured cocktails that engage all five senses.
Texture as a Taste Enhancer
The tongue is one of the most sensitive sensory organs in the human body, with thousands of surface touch receptors. It’s sensitive to pressure, temperature, and, of course, texture. How food or drink feels in the mouth can significantly impact our taste perception. Everybody experiences texture differently, depending on our individual childhood and cultural heritage.
Therefore, a texture that one person finds pleasant may be appalling to another. Crafting textured drinks is about understanding your customers and appealing to their tastes. Correctly executed, textured elements can give a beverage more substance and heighten its flavor.
Four Ways to Texturize Cocktails
1. Fat washing
As part of the general trend towards including more savory elements in cocktails, fat washing has become a 2024 mixology mainstay. This ancient technique involves lining glassware with a thin layer of oil or butter, mixing the drink, cooling the cocktail, and scraping the frozen fat from the top.
Apart from its value in imparting flavors to a drink, it can also change its texture considerably. Fat-washed cocktails may have a silkier, slightly oilier texture–similar to bulletproof coffee.
2. Adding crunchy elements
There’s a reason we add croutons to soups and salads—they give the dish extra crunch. Crunchy elements engage your sense of hearing and break up the homogeneity of wet ingredients. While this logic doesn’t strictly apply to beverages, adding a crunchy element can make a cocktail feel more tactile and “food-like.”
Popular ways to add crunch include raw fruits and vegetables, hard candy, crumbled nuts, toasted sugar, and clumpy salt crystals.
3. Thickening
Cocktails come in many viscosities, from light and watery to syrupy and slushy. Something as simple as thickening the liquid base can change the drinking experience entirely. Thicken a drink, and suddenly, you can consume it through an oversized edible straw or scoop it up with a 3D-printed garnish.
In 2024, we’re set to see a new wave of frothy cocktail blends and foamy toppings. Egg whites, pineapple, honey, and fruit pectin are thickening agents a mixologist should keep in their toolbox.
4. Introducing bubbles
Floating helium bubble clouds are one of the latest viral drink trends to hit TikTok. These ephemeral garnishes are the products of precision molecular mixology, combining a liquid base with VOM’s patented “Formula 1” blend and pumping it with helium gas. The result is a delicious floating cloud that pops in your mouth and tantalizes your taste buds.
Bubbling, sparkling, and popping ingredients mean each sip is filled with movement, enhancing the overall sensory experience.
Finding the Right Flavors to Compliment Unique Textures
As exciting as textured cocktails are, they must pack a powerful flavor punch to back up the sensational mouthfeel. One approach is to contrast the flavor and texture to create unexpected experiences. For example, presenting light, summery citrus flavors in a silky fat-washed liquid. Alternatively, you might enhance a novel texture with complementary flavors that suit the theme.
Advanced Biotech can support your flavor development wherever your experimental mixology takes you. Our range of savory plant-based flavors, aromatic extracts, and purified distillates make the perfect partners for contemporary cocktail makers. Contact us for more information.