Ladies Night Out
The whiskey cocktails and customizable flights expanded The Melting Pot’s menu options, but the Women and Whiskey program was also about engaging with customers―both online and in-store.
To educate guests who wanted to learn more about the spirit, The Melting Pot had whiskey brand ambassadors―a growing number of whom are female―give presentations at several locations. The chain posted a number of these presentations on YouTube as educational, branded videos.
Another online promotion for the program was a social media quiz that asked “What Kind of Whiskey Woman Are You?” By answering a series of questions, quiz-takers could deduce what whiskey they would most enjoy.
The program also paired the brown spirit with special versions of The Melting Pot’s signature fondues. These included chocolate, bacon, and cheddar fondues that used whiskey as an ingredient ($7.95). For example, the sweet, smooth Monkey Shoulder blended bourbon proved an ideal mixing whiskey for these dishes, Brown says, especially for the caramel and white chocolate fondues.
When guests come into The Melting Pot to partake in a promotion like Women and Whiskey, “It’s a real event,” Brown says. “It’s important for these concepts to work with our demo. We’ve got such loyal followers.”
Further, he says, “We work well with the brands, and together we’re really good at creating ladies’ nights out.” Indeed, whiskey sales at the chain rose 135% during the Women and Whiskey program.
The success inspired Brown to add a whiskey cocktail called The Whiskey Thistle ($7.95) with Jameson’s, lemon juice, white peach syrup and muddled raspberries, onto the core menu. “It is selling very well nationally,” says Brown, who will consider additional whiskey cocktails for future menu changes.
The Melting Pot’s Skinny Dipping promotion of low-calorie menu items, which ran January through March 31 in 2013, was another successful LTO targeting women. The food options included three salads with less than 150 calories each; three fondue-style entrees at under 220 calories each; and a dark-chocolate dessert fondue with bananas, pineapple chunks and strawberries for dipping, at 322 calories a serving.
Skinny Dipping cocktails included the Fresh Berry Fizz (92 calories) with lemon vodka, blackberries and fresh-squeezed lemon juice, topped with club soda; Crisp Citrus Crunch (105 calories) with orange-vanilla vodka and muddled orange and mint; Mango Coconut Marteenie (158 calories) with mango-coconut vodka, white cranberry juice and fresh lemon juice; and Pretty in Pop (106 calories) with vodka, cranberry juice, muddled cucumber slices and fresh lime juice, topped with club soda.
The drinks were made with Voli, a light vodka brand co-owned by the musicians Pitbull and Fergie. The two globally popular entertainers were essentially brand ambassadors for The Melting Pot during the duration of the program.
That 2013 program built off the success of the 2012 Skinny Cocktail beverage LTO. This included six light cocktails using Voli, as well as vodka and wine from Skinnygirl, the low-calorie brand founded by reality TV star Bethenny Frankel and now owned by Beam.
“That was a fun program that got a lot of brand ambassadors in the public eye, doing stuff outside the four walls,” Brown recalls. “This has been the most successful program that we’ve run to date.”
Low-cal alcoholic beverages don’t work for every operator, however. “I think that skinny cocktails have varying degrees of success,” Brown says. “A lot of people in the industry have said that they’ve had no success with them.” But The Melting Pot’s clientele evidently supports the concept.
While The Melting Pot did not offer a light-cocktail LTO in 2014 to avoid repetition, it expects to run more low-cal options on the core menu in the future, Brown says. And beginning this year, the business will start printing calorie counts on its menus.