Red Robin announced in early June that it is offering two new summer beer cocktails served in a limited-edition, reusable beer can. The beer drinks, which are priced at $4.99, are available in two styles: one with Coors Light, ginger liqueur and lemonade and fresh lemon juice, the other made with Blue Moon Belgian White ale, Svedka Clementine vodka, orange juice and fresh lime juice.
Cheers caught up with Red Robin’s master mixologist Donna Ruch to talk about the gourmet burger chain’s foray into hoptails.
Cheers: What was the inspiration for the two beer cocktails?
I chose to base the cocktails off of Coors Light and Blue Moon because we offer them in all of our more than 470 Red Robin restaurants. I knew “beer cocktails” would be a foreign concept to some of our guests and team members, so I wanted to introduce them with familiar beer brands that would pique curiosity and encourage trial.
I specifically chose the flavor profiles of the cocktails as well. Orange is typically a flavor that people like, so I incorporated that into the Blue Moon cocktail, and ginger is a somewhat exotic flavor profile that I thought might lead to consumer experimentation with the Coors Light cocktail.
Cheers: What dishes would you pair these beer cocktails with?
My favorite combinations are the Blue Moon Can-Crafted Cocktail with our signature Banzai Burger that has grilled pineapple and teriyaki sauce on it. I like pairing the Coors Light cocktail with one of our featured burgers, The Berserker Burger–which is inspired by the upcoming movie The Wolverine–and is topped with spicy pickles, zesty aioli and crispy Sriracha onion straws.
The cocktails are also great paired with appetizers such as our new Yukon Chips & French Onion Dip, our signature Towering Onion Rings and our Bar Wings ‘n’ Yukon Chips served with our house-made Island-Style Maui sauce.
Cheers: What’s the deal with the beer can cup?
I really liked the idea of using a reusable “souvenir” cup that our guests could purchase and take home. With this in mind, we created a sturdy aluminum beer can to serve the beer cocktails and we are excited to be the first-to-market with them. The cans get so cold on the outside they are literally “too cold to hold.”
Our guests are excited to be able to purchase the cans [for $5] to take home and make their own beer cocktails. I think it would be really cool to see the beer cans at a local bar in the future. You don’t typically see smaller bars and restaurants taking ideas from a larger restaurant company. Imitation is the highest form of flattery!
Cheers: Will you keep the items on the menu if they’re a hit or would you do other seasonal beer cocktails?
We tested the concept in a few locations early this year and received great data to help us launch the drinks. The first-to-market Blue Moon and Coors Light Can-Crafted Cocktails are a perfect summertime cocktail so we knew they would be great fit along with our summer promotional food. We’ll continue to gauge how the cocktails are resonating with our guests, but we do have some exciting possibilities for new cans and cocktails in the works.
Cheers: How has the response been so far?
We don’t have results yet in regards to geographical results, but in tests we found that the warmer the weather, the more beer can cocktails we sold. I recently spent a day in our restaurants on the East Coast, and I was very pleased with the response from our guests and team members. The team members are really getting behind the product and recommending them to our guests. Whenever you have a win with the team members, you have a win for the brand.