Not everyone drinks and it’s about time restaurants added a more diverse range of beverages for those who want to avoid alcohol. The standard nimbu paani, soft drinks and 5-6 mocktails don’t cut the mustard for the culinary industry in 2022 any more. Here are a few options you can add to your menu.
Non-alcoholic beers, spirits and wines are perfect for patrons who enjoy the flavours of alcohol but would rather avoid the buzz for numerous reasons. Major brands including Heineken, Budweiser, Kingfisher, Hoegaarden and others have ensured zero-alcohol beers are easily available. Non-alcoholic wines have also flooded the market, offering options from cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay to zinfandel, merlot and brut. India is also slowly getting into the zero-alcohol spirits market with the likes of Sober gin and Svami gin and tonic.
Stories abound that spritzes took off as a ‘lighter’ version of the strong Venetian wines of the 18th century, diluted initially with sparkling water or Selz water and later with bitters. Any Italian restaurant worth its salt ought to serve spritz. Many patrons enjoy its unique taste and by offering non-alcoholic versions, restaurant owners and chefs can hit the spot with true lovers of Italian food.
This is pretty much an upgraded, adult version of a slushie but can prove to be refreshing and exciting at the same time. They’re perfect for summers but can work just as well as fancy mocktails do through the year thanks to their vibrant colours. Insisting on fresh fruit and levelling up with sugar-free sparkling water or coconut water and herbs like basil or mint can make it a game changer. You can also try more exotic fruit such as rambutan, dragon fruit, persimmon, blood oranges and others.
With the health and nutrition trend continuing to rise, smoothies are finding favour among an increasingly wider population. They don’t always have to be a breakfast item, nor do they need to be a meal replacement. Experiment with flavours and ingredients to ensure you serve something that’s light enough to accompany a meal or can be tweaked to turn into a meal replacement. Ditching or reducing the fat and protein content can make smoothies lighter.
Lassis have been part of Indian culture forever. It’s time to bring them back in style. Instead of keeping it simple with just a plain or sweet lassi, add options that include spices like cinnamon, light flavours such as rose petal, seasonal fruit, raw mango or masala. Get fancy with saffron and cardamom or give it a bit of a hit with the addition of caramel and espresso. Experiment with trending flavours such as green tea and turmeric, matcha, roasted beetroot and more.
The pandemic has seen the rise in the production and consumption of fermented beverages across India. Dozens of homegrown brands have sprung up in various parts of the country and it would only be wise to add these options to the menu at any restaurant. Kombucha is by far the most popular fermented drink, but others exist as well, including kefir, kvass, tepache and India’s own kanji, koozh, handia, chyang and chaas.