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October 10, 2022

Customers can be fickle. So keeping up with their taste for beverages can be a tricky proposition. You have to find a way to maintain their interest, even as it shifts with the trends. At the same time, you want to attract new customers. 

Blended Beverage Components

Why is the mixed drink such a successful decision? Let’s review the basic contents of the group, note the price and availability of the ingredients.

Ice: The main component of most mixed drinks is ice, which is already on hand in most restaurants so it’s not an extra expense. Ice can be processed whole, such as in smoothies or drinks. Or, it can be whole, as in fruit-infused drinks that are quick-cooled and blended with fresh or frozen fruit in the Vitamix® Commercial Aerating Box.

Liquid Base: Every mixed drink starts with a liquid “base,” which can be water, green tea, iced coffee, black tea, fruit juice, or coconut water. The source is often determined by the purpose of the drink: Is it an energy drink, a sustainable drink, a sweet drink, a sweet fruit drink, or a personal health aid? Most water bases are inexpensive and easy to find, although brewed green leaf or specialty coffee may require special effort.

Fruit: Most blended drinks contain fresh or frozen fruit. Frozen fruit or frozen purées last longer than fresh fruit, cost less, deliver stronger flavor, and are often equal to or better than fresh fruit in vitamins and other nutrients, according to several research studies. Considering its contribution, frozen fruit offers great value.

Other Flavors: Mixed drinks also feature one or more flavorings that are added in small amounts and will go a long way in adding flavor, sweetness, and/or flavor to the mix. In many cases, these flavoring agents may be ingredients that you already have on hand. The best options are comfort foods that are easy to use, don’t require refrigeration, and will last a long time. They should also be of a variety that you can use in many ways. You probably won’t look any further than the array of coffee house syrups on the shelf. Other cheaper options include ginger, which provides a strong flavor in the right form, as well as espresso or cocoa, and peanut butter. When choosing these ingredients, look for items that are easy to store that can be purchased in bulk and that you can use in multiple ways.

Powders and Supplements: The active food scene has created an expectation among consumers that the drink will serve a purpose. It is helpful to label or describe your drinks correctly, noting and focusing on other purposes (eg, nutrient, energy infusion, exercise recovery, meal replacement, vegetable diet, special diet, etc.) . Most of the ingredients that help define the drink in terms of performance are available in a solid powder form, including proteins, energy boosters, creatine, multivitamins, grains, etc., which makes mixing easy, contains the cost, and it avoids the challenge of keeping it fresh. ingredients from happening bad.

Mixing and Mixing: A simple, inexpensive way to add color and value to mixed drinks are ingredients that are added at the end of the mixing process, so they are only slightly processed. Small pieces of fruit, nuts, or even green leaves suspended in the drink – we call these ingredients – can be visually appealing and remind your customers that they are eating something with healthy foods. Alternatively, for fun, you can add sugar-coated candies, cookies, or brownies to the mixed drink. Bottom line: A small amount of a single ingredient added to the finish can elevate the appeal of your blended drink and potentially justify a higher price tag.

Keep an Eye on the Trends

If you’re running a business, it can be hard to keep up with the trends – but it takes less time than you think. A look once a month through the business, a quick look at the menus of competitors online, or a report from Mintel or Technomics is enough to keep you updated and ahead of the next drinks or limited time offer (LTO).

Acting on trends is easy in the field of mixed drinks. It’s usually a matter of working in two new things. For example, last summer, pink drinks were all the rage with young consumers, according to market research firm Mintel. Food companies have launched a new crop of colorful products to appeal to these audiences.

What does it take to make a pink drink? It can be frozen passion fruit purée, watermelon, dragon fruit, strawberries, or even a sweet drink. In other words, execution can be easy and the price is low.

When it comes to creating new recipes – or changing existing ones – mixing is a kind of magic because all the ingredients are so well combined that they cannot be determined by the eye, which gives the creator a certain latitude.

On the other hand, a small amount of strong spices can push the recipe in a different direction. Therefore, to get the effect you want, it is useful in some cases to think about balancing the strong and weak balance.

Some flavors are good for other flavors, even if they are not strong on their own. For example, banana is a good carrier of strawberry, but it is also good for chocolate.

Sometimes, one strong taste is enough and, in general, a simple recipe with few ingredients is better than a complicated recipe with many ingredients, even if it is popular with customers. In fact, one of the worst situations is a drink that is very popular but difficult for your employees to make.

Finally, a reminder: Stable, simple ingredients can be very effective in delivering flavor, and they are almost always less expensive than fresh ingredients.

Equipment Matters 

From a profitability point of view, your link tool is just as important as the content.

Naturally, you want the equipment to last and hold up under heavy use, including back-to-back plugging during peak operating hours. That already narrows the field of blender candidates.

But, in addition, your blender should increase the speed of service. A blender with built-in programming, like The Quiet One® by Vitamix Commercial, allows your staff to touch one button and walk away while the blending happens. With 34 precise programs, The Quiet One® is equipped with a program that will mix almost any drink in the optimal time, automatically cycling through the required speed range.

Finally, the high performance of the blender with the correct programs ensures that the drink recipe you prepared with care comes out the same every time, as your customers want. This will keep your customers coming back for more.

Stephen Hosey is an application manager and member of the catering team at Vitamix, where he helps business customers with kitchen and bar optimization, recipe creation and menu development. Contact him at letstalkcommercial@vitamix.com.