By Julie Baxter

A welcome beverage with signature style can add a story to your service and bring a real sense of occasion to the onboard experience. Julie Baxter takes a sip

Princess Cruises recently enlisted the support of notable TV celebrity/cocktail guru, Rob Floyd, to revamp its beverage offer. His specialty is creating cocktails that combine story with under-the-radar ingredients to create ‘an adventure in a glass’.

The aim was to ensure the drinks offered – both alcoholic and alcohol-free – reflected the destinations being visited so Floyd deliberately selected ingredients from every corner of the world to create a fusion of flavours. He says: “I was truly inspired by ingredients from all the amazing destinations Princess Cruises sails to and worked on a selection that combines the Three T’s: taste, technique, and tale.” That meant interesting ingredients skilfully crafted together and with a creative and fascinating back story.

The new cocktails include: Mayan Heat, inspired by Mexican ports, and Italian Sunset inspired by the Med. There are African influences in the Ivory Coast cocktail and notes of Egypt for The Egyptian Zombie.
Airlines too have a strong tradition of offering signature drinks that reflect their heritage and routes, and as the push continues towards passenger experiences that link the journey to the destination these are growing.

Champagne has been the classic welcome drink, and Bloody Marys and Mimosas made their mark with United’s Polaris service, but attractive inventions such as Thai Airways’ non-alcoholic, Violet Bliss, or Cathay Dragon’s Dragon Sunrise and Rose Infinity get the added kudos of social media traction as they look impressive and get passengers talking.

Local flavours onboard

Qatar features a lemon and mint juice welcome drink – made from freshly-squeezed lemons blended with mint leaves and slightly sweetened with a stock syrup. It takes its inspiration from the restaurants in Qatar where it is widely served, and sits alongside So Jennie – the world’s first non-alcoholic sparkling drink inspired by the traditional Champagne.

Hawaiian Airlines makes much of its tropical vibe through a collaboration with On the Rocks premium cocktails exclusively offering the authentic flavours of Hawaii through a range of all natural beverages such as gin with violet, guava, coconut and citrus in the Tropical Landing; or dark rum and tropical pineapple in the Mai Tai. The airline has also tied up with independently owned craft brewery, Maui Brewing Co.

Lan Chile brings the classic flavours of its region onboard by offering a welcome Pisco Sour consisting of juice from small lemons, pisco, powdered sugar and ice.

And supplier Mohksha Limited has worked with SriLankan Airlines to launch a signature mock-tail, Mohksha Dew, built around the staple island spice, cinnamon. The honey coloured slush has a strong aromatic fragrance designed to ‘transport’ passengers to the spice’s island home and reflect the airline’s heritage.

Creator Mohiden Saheed says: “Cinnamon is Sri Lanka’s heritage spice to the world with a history dating back to 500 BC. We use only locally sourced cinnamon from our own plantation for the drink and other onboard products and believe it has many health benefits as well as a great refreshing taste. It combines local flavour and back story with a wellbeing message and has been well received by passengers already. The success of the drink has inspired us to create other cinnamon onboard products including a Mohksha Pops lolly and cinnamon
bark toothpick.”

Beverage ambassadors

All Nippon Airways has taken things a step further partnering with renowned sake sommelier Yasuyuki Kitahara to present the Japanese national drink to best effect inflight. Kitahara helped ANA select 36 new Japanese sakes for a range of 44, suited to both first time drinkers and aficionados.

The choice of creative beverage partners is growing too. Ariane van Mancius, trend-spotter for Now New Next recently visited F&B show Horecava in the Netherlands spotting Lowlander, a brewing business using plant-based ingredients such as juniper berries and pine needles, ginger root, tea leaves and elderflower to make beer; and Beer-Aqua a new range of waters infused to develop a beer aroma.

For cocktails, cocktail pearls have become an effective way to add a kick to a favourite soft drink, with the added attraction of injecting colour, bubbles and glitter.

The biggest trend she detects however is towards alcohol free offerings. Braxzz 0.0 for instance launched a range of speciality alcohol-free beers and a cider; and there are now even alcohol free gins, brandies, rum and tequila for mock-tail makers to experiment with.