It’s said that to every thing there is a season, but apparently that’s not true with blender drinks. At least not based on the experience of Olive
Garden restaurants, which see a staggering 80% of their spirit sales attributed to blender drinks. (They have 8 to 10 on the menu at any given time.)
The Olive Garden folks have studied the seasonal angle to best understand if diners are more interested in slushy-fruity drinks during summer, and richer, more filling ice cream-based drinks in winter. Michelle Kern, manager of beverage development and education for the 534-restaurant group, notes that while that may be a logical assumption, instead, Olive Garden customers are consistently choosing from the whole spectrum throughout the year, so managers don’t really need to shift their menu to accommodate seasonal swings.
“Most people come to Olive Garden to escape, to relax,” explains Kern. “They want something special and unique, drinks that are somewhat more involved.” These are the kind of drinks customers are less likely to prepare for themselves at home. Blender drinks fill that bill with style, and clearly are fulfilling customer expectations with such high sales volumes.
While not a blender drink per se, the Olive Garden granitas–a signature presentation of blended spirits served in a Martini glass lined with crushed ice–are a top-seller. The two house specialties, which debuted last summer, are the Berry Granita (Stoli Razberi vodka with cranberry juice and a touch of lemon and mint) and the Orange Granita (with Absolut Mandrin vodka, orange juice and a hint of mint). But customers can order many of their favorite cocktails served granita-style for a refreshing, super-chilled variation, up or on the rocks.
It’s part of the evolution of the frozen American dream drink from Slushie to sophisticated. Take the Melting Pot’s variation, the Yin & Yang. At the 72 Melting Pot units nationwide, the Yin & Yang cocktail (which echoes their Yin & Yang fondue featuring white and dark chocolate) starts off with vanilla ice cream, to which Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, Stolichnaya Vanil and white cr