New Summer Cocktail Menus Spell Success

Revamping your cocktail menu, especially making seasonal changes, is a great way to get patrons interested and invested in your bar or restaurant. And with summer finally here, it’s the perfect time to add some innovative Margaritas or fresh-flavored cocktails to the mix. In fact, Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill, T.G.I. Friday’s and Old Chicago are heeding this advice, giving their guests something new and fresh to sip on this summer.

After its rebranding in 2008, the Orlando, Fla.-based, Smokey Bones struggled to find its footing and an identity in its 68 locations. However, Smokey Bones’ management knows what works and is employing that in its new Florida-only menu by featuring new barbecue flavors and adding new beers and frozen drinks to the beverage list. This affordable drink menu includes $2 pints of domestic beer, $3.75 Guinness pints, $3.95 Sauza Margaritas and $2.95 Three Olives vodka drinks (or $5 doubles).

Pete Bell, vice president of marketing for Smokey Bones, said in a statement that Smokey Bones wants to craft itself as the go-to destination for affordable yet delicious food and drink. “It’s about providing accessibility for current and potential guests — not just in the price point, but in the variety of drink specials offered on the menu.”

While Smokey Bones refocuses its new image by emphasizing low-priced specials, T.G.I. Friday’s and Old Chicago focus on fresh flavors, signature drinks and boutique brands. Friday’s and Old Chicago are taking on current cocktail trends by creating innovative drinks for affordable prices, making it easier for guests to experience new flavors without having to go to the trendiest (and more expensive) cocktail bars.

With 70 locations T.G.I. Friday’s, headquartered in Carrollton, Texas is using the summer months to introduce its signature Caribbean-inspired cocktail menu, which focuses on fresh fruit flavors and high quality ingredients. Fresh lime juice and pineapple slices transform tried and true Coladas and Daiquiris into original tropical favorites.

The eight new beverages include: the Coco’Mon n’Lime, made with two kinds of rum, lime juice and cola; Tropical Fruit Coladas with passion fruit, strawberry and peach flavors; the Island Rum Punch, made with spiced and dark rums, almond-flavored liqueur, passion fruit puree and pineapple juice; the Tropical Mai Tai with a mix of spiced rum, pineapple and peach nectars; the Fresh Mango Lemonade, which is vodka mixed with rum, lemon-agave sour mix and mango puree; and the Mango Berry Daiquiri, with rum, peach schnapps, strawberry and mango purees and house-made lime sour mix.

Old ChicagoOld Chicago, part of Rock Bottom Restaurants, Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Colo., recently launched its new beverage menu in its 100 locations, as well. In fact, in-house Corporate Beverage Manager Tracy Finklang created 20 new cocktails for the menu, including three Mojitos made with a twist: the sweet and spicy Ginger Mojito, featuring Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur; the French Mojito, made with St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur; and the Mangojito, featuring Parrot Bay Mango Rum.

From boutique spirits to signature drinks, Old Chicago’s menu is driven by trends. For instance, the Stag Stone Sour signature cocktail is made with orange juice, sour mix and Red Stag, a black cherry bourbon that’s an attempt to entice younger drinkers to try a classic spirit such as bourbon.

Finklang says the new menu showcases the variety available at Old Chicago establishments. "We're known for our wide selection of beers at Old Chicago, but this new menu really emphasizes the breadth of our bar offering and will allow our guests to learn about and experience our extensive variety of Mojitos, Margaritas, classic rewinds, signature cocktails and Martinis, too,” she said in a statement.

From affordable drinks to signature cocktails, bars and restaurants are using summer months to experiment with new flavors and ideas that have guests coming back for more.

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