It may be the dog days of summer, but there’s plenty of heat to keep restaurants firing on all cylinders into the autumn months. Here are some spicy takes on applying hot sauces to your bar menu — wings aside.
Wing season is ready to take flight, and you’ve combed the industry to mix and match the best flavors. With many establishments getting in on the wing game this time of year, it makes sense to utilize your stash of heat for culinary creativity that goes beyond wings — putting the spotlight on your specific, spicy brand.
The heat trend continues to go up, pushed by consumer demand for international influences, an increase in bold palates, and a general fever for hot sauces — which some guests prize like collectibles. According to research from Datassentials1, spicy trendability is rated very high in the current environment, meaning there’s room for growth, and spicy popularity on menus is very high as well, especially in categories like beverages. In fact2, more than 70% of restaurants have menu items that are directly called out as spicy. That’s a testament to widespread demand and competition.
Hot sauces also help address two of the industry’s biggest challenges — reducing inventory costs and making life easier for labor. A range of flavors offers you versatility to dress up already popular dishes, and brand-name appeal can connect with hot sauce aficionados. A bottle like Frank’s RedHot® Original Buffalo Wings Sauce brings irresistible, wing-inspired tastiness to cauliflower flatbreads, dippable bread bowls, and gourmet grilled cheeses. While Frank’s Mild Wings Sauce is an adaptable flavor enhancer for guests that love the iconic brand but are looking to take spice down a notch.
General sauce flavor profiles run the gamut from tropical to earthy, which can help reinforce your brand concept or provide unique specials. For mild, sweet, citrusy notes, a tropical-style option like Contigo® For Seafood Hot Sauce works well with island shrimp or grilled fish tacos.
A variety of peppers, including habanero, can elicit sweet flavors, so an option like Contigo Habanero Hot Sauce could be a good fit. Dried peppers bring the smoky heat for ancho, chipotle, and tamarind — indigenous to tropical Africa and popularized in Asia — selections. So, while not overtly spicy, an ingredient like Roma® Pesto Southwest Chipotle Sauce could fit that bill. If you’re after earthy notes, Thai peppers, poblano peppers, and chile de arbol can add an assortment of rich spiciness, and Contigo — Spanish for “with you” — has an authentic line of sauces, including Poblano & Habanero and Chile de Arbol.
Weaving hot sauce flavors throughout your menu creates subtle upselling opportunities too, as you elevate staples into social media-friendly LTOs. The app category is prime for a spicy facelift, with the temperature continuing to rise on shareables and handheld items. Take dippable fry platters, or even something as simple as popcorn, to new levels with a drizzle of your preferred sauce, like Frank’s Buffalo Wings Sauce or Mild Wings Sauce.
Strike while the iron is hot with the versatility of slider applications as well. Sauce up fried chicken, seafood, veggie burgers, and a number of other possibilities for apps, shareables, or entrées. Consider incorporating spicy into breakfast and dessert offerings, using ingredients like Frank’s RedHot Nashville Hot Seasoning for Nashville hot-inspired waffles, pancake pops, even chocolate cake icing. And evaluate whether a touch of fire will work in various drink specials — fruity punches, spicy martinis, tropical shandys, or flaming Bloodys. According to market reports, guests are eager to soak up all of that heat, especially with the transition to cooler weather.
1 Datassentials Spicy Inspiration, March ‘23
2 Datassentials Spicy Inspiration, March ‘23