Beverages make up 40 percent of total sales at Old Chicago’s 96 locations across the country, and about three quarters of those beverage sales is beer.
That’s understandable: Old Chicago and its sister concepts in the CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries Inc. group, Rock Bottom Brewery and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, are beer-focused operations. But Old Chicago’s best-selling cocktail is a Piña Colada with Blue Curaçao, whipped cream and a cherry on top — a clear sign in this age of creative mixology that the cocktail menu is due for a revamp.
Stuart Melia, CraftWorks’ vice president of beverage, carried out such a revamp — the chain’s first in more than three years — and rolled it out last week.
“Our sales are so heavily beverage, but also very heavy on beer.” Melia said. “We want the non-beer drinker [also] to find great drinks at great value … it’s really expanding our influence in beverage to offer more guests what they’re after.”
But he recognized that at such a high-volume restaurant, his cocktails needed to be easy to make. “We can’t have bartenders taking four to eight minutes to make a cocktail,” he said.
So he introduced simple drink platforms that could be easily altered for multiple cocktails.
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