Ruthas Chris Steak House Unveils NOLA-Inspired Cocktail Menu

Ruth’s Chris Steak House is known as a classic American steakhouse, and it needed a cocktail menu to match its persona. But for a brand born in the same city as so many classic cocktails — New Orleans — the cocktail menu couldn’t have just any by-the-book take on Martinis and Manhattans. So on Dec. 5 — the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition — the Winter Park, Fla.-based brand debuted its new line of vintage- and NOLA-inspired cocktails.

Now, handcrafted cocktails, such as Broad Street Hurricanes (Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 year old aged rum, pomegranate juice, freshly squeezed lemon and lime juices and yellow passionfruit) and French Quarter 75s (Domaine Chandon sparkling wine, St-Germain, Beefeater, freshly squeezed lemon sour, raspberry and lemon twist), fill the menu, providing creative, New Orleans-style riffs on classic American cocktails.

French Q

The French Quarter 75.

Additionally, the bar’s cocktail menu offers “New Classics,” such as the Dirty Ketel Martini (Ketel One, Noilly Prat “Original” dry vermouth, olive juice and hand-stuffed bleu-cheese-stuffed olives) and the Manhattan Eastside (Woodford Reserve, Domaine de Canton, housemade lemon sour, spoonful of Luxardo cherry juice and Luxardo cherries).

The new menu is designed to celebrate the legacies of the brand’s birthplace, New Orleans, and its founder, Ruth Fertel, explains Helen Mackey, Director of Beverage Strategy for the 130-unit brand.

“This new cocktail menu focuses squarely on classic cocktails with a Ruth’s Chris twist, so every cocktail on the menu is founded and inspired by a classic,” says Mackey, who joined the company in January 2011. “This authenticity is an important cornerstone of the program because the drinks, like our own heritage, tell rich stories about where they came from and where they can go.”

To develop that authentic yet original feel, program developers used original drink recipes as bases and then built new flavors into each cocktail, Mackey says. So, for example, instead of the classic Cuban Mojito, developers added muddled blueberries to the mix; rather than the standard Tom Collins, they incorporated cucumber and Domaine de Canton into the Cucumber Collins.

Cucumber collins

The Cucumber Collins.

These flavors weren’t just limited to fruits and standard liqueurs; they even brought in culinary ingredients such as basil for the Strawberry Basil Gimlet (Stolichnaya, freshly squeezed lime juice, housemade strawberry puree and basil leaves) and rosemary for the “New Classic” Raspberry Rosemary Cosmo (Absolut Raspberri, Cointreau, freshly squeezed lime juice, cranberry juice, muddled raspberries and fresh rosemary).

Although the cocktail menu is designed exclusively for the Ruth’s Chris guest, bartenders are equipped to create the original, classic cocktails. Bartenders go through proprietary training for the Ruth’s Chris cocktail program that includes understanding cocktail history, drink families, spirit categories and how to taste; they also take paer in Pernod Ricard USA’s BarSmarts program for continued training.

Additionally, the bartenders are responding to guests’ desires by offering high quality — think fresh-squeezed juices — at a reasonable price (chainwide prices are set at $12) in a “signature experience,” Mackey says.

“Our bar is every bit as important as our food in delivering the high-quality, differentiated experience that our guests expect, and this new cocktail program is key to that experience,” she says.

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