Award sponsored by Island Oasis.
In an effort to increase beverage sales and highlight its hand-crafted cocktails, the more than 50-unit, Chicago-based Bar Louie decided to set out and take its customers on world journey of cocktails. The voyage was so exciting that the chain has won Cheers Best Chain Beverage Menu Award, sponsored by Island Oasis.
“We had the idea to do a Louie’s Black Book a couple of years ago, but it never panned out,” says Blake Rohrabaugh, beverage director. “The idea evolved into Louie’s Travels Passport.”
The program, launched in October of last year and still running, is a complete overhaul of the company’s beverage menu, which rarely ever featured pictures of the cocktails. The Passport, developed with Patrick Henry Creative Promotions, featured 12 drinks—regularly priced from $7 to $10, depending on the location, and $5 for Happy Hour, where legal—and four cocktails from Bar Louie’s previous menu, as well as eight new ones. “The cocktails are a little more cutting edge than we normally do,” explains Rohrabaugh. “People are really going crazy for these things.”
He adds, “We have seen a significant increase in beverage sales… In the first seven weeks, we have sold 43,045 cocktails from the Passport program.” The selection includes cutting edge drinks such as the Asian Ginger Peach, which uses the flavors of ginger, elderflower and peach, with egg whites. “Although egg whites have been used in cocktails for years, most chains our size would not try to do this.”
The menu is full-color with a passport theme. It features pictures of each drink along with the ingredients and witty destination notes. For example, on the Asian Ginger Peach menu list, the destination note reads: “That Ginger was sweet on peach—she’s one of my favorites!”
Each cocktail takes the customer on a journey to around the globe, featuring drinks such as the Naughty Irish School Girl, made with X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, Jameson Irish Whiskey, ruby red grapefruit juice, Grenadine and freshly squeezed orange juice; Boomerang Lemonade, made with Midori Melon Liqueur, SKYY Vodka, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur and lemonade; and the Asian Ginger Peach, made with St-Germaine, Domaine de Canton, DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps and egg white. Each drink is tied to and inspired by a different country.
Through passport POS material placed throughout the store, customers are encouraged to get their passports stamped from each country when they order the appropriate drink. Each Bar Louie’s location also has a unique stamp. Once completed, the “travelers” mail in the passports to the corporate headquarters to receive a souvenir packs, which include an “I traveled the world with Louie” T-shirt and other promo items worth more than $100.
Bar Louie’s customers, according to Rohrabaugh, have shown a lot of excitement about the new drinks and the potential to collect souvenirs for their “world travels.” “The look and feel of the passport raises the guest curiosity when they hear about it or when they see it on their tables,” he explains. “Then as they try a drink or two, they see the interactive element to the piece, and then they become more intrigued with the promotion, the drinks and the possibility of getting the souvenir package from Louie.”
Engaged and ready, some consumers already have completed their passport. After the first three weeks, Rohrabaugh had received a couple hundred completed passports.
World travel done right!