Bold Beer Cocktails an On-Trend Menu Addition

Given consumers’ increasingly adventurous tastes in beer and their interest in trying riffs on their favorite adult beverages (rosemary margarita, anyone?), it’s little surprise that beer cocktails are trending on menus nationwide. Just this month, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers debuted two new beer cocktails served in reusable beer cans.

Beer-based beverages have come into focus for consumers in the past few years with the proliferation at retail of shandies and flavored malt beverages from big-name beer brands. Last year alone, MillerCoors’ Leinenkugel came to market with a berry-flavored version of its well-known shandy; Heineken’s Tecate brand introduced Tecate Michelada; and AB InBev expanded its portfolio with Shock Top Lemon Shandy as well as FMBs Bud Light Lime-a-Rita and ULTRA 19th Hole Light Tea and Lemonade. (After selling more than 500,000 barrels of Lime-a-Rita in eight months, AB InBev added Straw-Ber-Rita this spring.)

On-premise, casual Mexican and beach-themed concepts are adding beer margaritas to their menu mix, often at an attractive price point that falls between that of beers and traditional or premium margaritas. And half-and-halfs and boilermakers remain staples at Irish pubs and college bars, respectively. But more restaurants and bars that don’t fit into these categories—including higher-end operations—also are exploring beer cocktails, and their creative experimentation showcases beer’s versatility as a flavor pairing and as the basis for standout but approachable original beverages.

Among operators’ beer-based beverage offerings:

Beer Margaritas

  • Beergarita, Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery: 1800 Silver Tequila, Cointreau, lime sour, Blue Moon and Angostura bitters
  • The Petaluma, Crios Modern Mexcan (Washington, DC): Beer margarita with Lagunitas IPA, Milagro Silver, lime, lemon, honey
  • Coronita Rita, Cheeseburger in Paradise: Milagro Reposado tequila and Cointreau with a blend of fresh citrus juices topped with an overturned 7-ounce Coronita

Shandies

  • Jane’s Candy, The Foundry (Kansas City): McCoy’s Ginger Shandy and Raspberry Wheat ale
  • Shandy, Brick House Tavern & Tap: Beer, Captain Morgan and lemonade
  • #46, Forequarter (Madison, WI): Bergamot, lemon, mint, vodka and Lakefront Rendezvous ale
  • Midnight Shandy, NoRTH: Frangelico, Chambord, lemon and Birra Moretti Red

Micheladas

  • Mezcal Michelada, The Bad Apple (Chicago): House-made spicy Bloody Mary mix, celery salt rim, Ska Mexican Logger and La Penca Mezcal
  • Mango Michelada, El Tamarindo (Washington, DC): With mango pulp, pilsner beer, lime juice and hot sauce
  • La Cuchara Michelada, La Cuchara: Tecate over ice with michelada mix of house-made salsa and spices

Crafty Creations

  • After the Gold Rush, Frontera Grill (Chicago): Riverboat rye whiskey, Rocky’s Revenge beer, fresh lime, Burton’s maple syrup and Nux Alpina walnut liqueur
  • Witty Fizz, Tom’s Urban 24 (Denver): Hoegaarden, gin, lemon juice and St-Germain
  • Fresh Prince, Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen (Denver): Jack & Jenny pear brandy, Mandarin vodka, lemon and Avery IPA

Offering flavors appealing to non-beer-fans as well as brew hounds willing to branch out into mixed drinks, beer cocktails make for an appealing and seasonally flexible addition to menus.

Note: The information cited in this post was compiled via Technomic’s MenuMonitor service

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Christine LaFave Grace

Christine LaFave Grace writes for and produces Technomic's Trends & Directions e-newsletters. She joined Technomic in 2013 as an associate editor. Her previous roles include assistant digital editor for Crain Communications’ Modern Healthcare magazine and associate editor at Reed Business Information’s Restaurants & Institutions magazine.

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