Old Chicago Revamps Cocktail Menu


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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