It’s hard to know when inspiration will strike. During an interview for this month’s Beverage R&D article on flavor trends, Cathianne Leonardi, flavorist at Allen Flavors, Edison, N.J., discussed how she developed a line of beverage prototypes inspired by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit dedicated to late fashion designer Alexander McQueen. The “Savage Beauty” exhibit featured McQueen’s garments along with the audio and video presentations that accompanied the designs during their respective runway shows.
“I suppose, as a flavorist having experienced such a sensorial imaginarium, if you will, what has to come to mind is, is there a taste for this? And what kind of taste would it be?” Leonardi says.
Inspired by a dress featuring silk roses and dried flowers, Leonardi developed a low-calorie, lightly carbonated Apple Rose Blossom-flavored beverage with hyaluronic acid. The beverage used a blend of apple flavors, such as Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Red Delicious, which reflected the color palette of the dress, Leonardi says.
She also created a Black Cherry Pepper Soda in homage to a dress that had a top made from dyed-red microscope slides and a flowing bottom of billowing ostrich feathers colored in deep red and smoky black hues. The beverage incorporated Madagascar black pepper oil, which Leonardi says provided a spicy, yet floral quality.
As another example of taking flavor inspiration from one’s surroundings, she points to Absolut’s line of city-inspired flavored vodkas.
“They’ve got San Francisco-flavored vodka, and who would have thought that San Francisco should have a taste?” she says. “But certainly it does have a taste, doesn’t it?”
Absolut SF declares that San Fransico tastes like grape, dragon fruit and papaya, which is a combination that the company says represents the melding of cultures in the California city.
On the horizon, Leonardi predicts flavor profiles that are the personification of a notable personality or well-known media figure. Vitaminwater’s Formula 50 variety, developed in partnership with hip-hop artist and actor Curtis
“50 Cent” Jackson, is one such example of this trend, she says.
“That’s certainly using an iconic figure, which makes absolute sense to me because most figures in the media have fragrances, so why do we know what they smell like, but we don’t know what they taste like?” Leonardi says.
In this month’s New Product Development Supplement, Beverage Industry provides insight into the latest beverage launch from 50 Cent. As part-owner in Pure Growth Partners, 50 Cent and the company launched Street King energy shots. The rapper will provide marketing support for the brand, but Street King is focused on its one-for-one charitable benefit to feed children in need more than 50 Cent’s personality.
Although, similar to Vitaminwater Formula 50, Street King is available in a Grape variety, which might hint at 50 Cent’s personal preferences.