2021 Flavor Trends Range From Things That Tingle To Comforting

Flavors like Ancho chile, habanero, and Indian peppercorn are expected to make their way into everything from Ready-to-Drink (RTD) cocktails to tea and lemonade.

The Year 2020 has left a bad taste in the mouths of Americans who are now longing for fresh new flavors in the New Year.

To help consumers get a start on 2021, the beverage experts at Flavorman have put forth their Drink Flavor Trends for the coming 12 months. According to the Louisville, Ky.-based company, the focus for the New Year is on flavors that drive experience in a socially-distant landscape.

  • Flavors That Tingle: Burning, cooling, or otherwise tingling their way across our tongues, drinks with flavors that stimulate unique sensory experiences are set to become more prominent in the coming year.

“We’ve had a considerable uptick in client requests for flavors that deliver varying degrees and styles of heat, smoke, and spice,” said Tom Gibson, Flavorman’s chief flavorist. “But we’ve also seen an increase in requests for flavors with that fresh, cooling rush you’d get from chewing a stick of mint gum.”


Flavors like Ancho chile, habanero, and Indian peppercorn are expected to make their way into everything from ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails to tea and lemonade. Meanwhile, menthol-heavy pairings— think peppermint-mocha cream and lemon-coconut eucalyptus— will contribute a cooling element to seltzers, premium coffee, juice drinks, and more.

  • Flavors That Comfort: The need for comfort has taken on a whole new meaning within the current social and political climate, but flavors continue to provide a soothing constant. Staples like grapefruit, lemon, and lime will continue to be popular; but there is an opportunity to elevate these familiar profiles by grounding them in specific locations of interest.

“Tracing flavors to a specific region creates a transportive experience that helps differentiate an otherwise standard flavor,” says Kristen Wemer, Flavorman’s director of Beverage Development. “As the market continues to saturate with the usual essentials, consumers can expect more diversity and premiumization through varietals of familiar flavors.”

Delivering on consumer cravings for nostalgia and indulgence, 2021 will also see the return of classic favorites but in unexpected, more sophisticated forms.

“When you think about childhood flavors re-imagined for premium applications, you get something like a smokey vanilla cold brew, bubble gum seltzer, or a fruit punch gin cocktail,” says Wemer. “We’re experiencing a renaissance of these nostalgic flavors— peanut butter, orange creamsicle, grape cotton candy— in concepts like hard coffee, energy drinks, and craft soda.”

  • Flavors That Function: In 2020, Flavorman introduced the concept of “functional plus”— those beverages that provide consumers with a multitude of health and wellness benefits. As the world grapples with a global pandemic, consumers have found ways to take their health into their own hands— and stomachs.

Beverages that offer immunity, cognitive, and mood-boosting benefits will be especially significant. Expect fragrant flavors like hibiscus, elderflower, and orange blossom to be combined with other berry, botanical and citrus elements to emphasize functional ingredient blends in naturally positioned teas, enhanced waters, flavored kombucha, and more.