Throughout this summer, Cheers Magazine and freelance writer Amanda Baltazar is highlighting how chain restaurants are testing and implementing new products, equipment and tactics to produce unique experiences for guests.
The bar program at Paul Martin’s American Grill has been about “house-made” before the term became popular. In addition to making simple syrup and grenadine in-house, all 10 restaurants infuse spirits with seasonal produce.
Bartenders create flavor essences by adding fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and peaches—or the rinds of citrus fruits—to a sous-vide machine. They mix the essence with a base spirit, usually vodka and tequila, and it’s ready to go.
The restaurants make these essences in small batches two or three times a week “and shelf-life isn’t an issue because we go through it really quickly,” says Brian Bennett, a founding partner of the concept.
Paul Martin’s creates more raspberry essence than anything else, he says, since the chain’s Raspberry Martini is its best-selling cocktail. It also regularly infuses Meyer lemon peel to make its house-infused lemon vodka. The cocktails are priced at cost $13; some are discounted to $5 or $9 during Paul Martin’s happy hour.
Some of the house-infused cocktails run as LTOs, mostly due to the seasonality of fruits, Bennett explains. “It’s a double-edge sword,” he says. “Some people get angry when they can’t have the cocktail they want, but they do like to have cocktails that are different at different times of the year. In spring and summer especially, we look more towards a refreshing cocktail.”
Pictured atop: Paul Martin’s American Grill’s Raspberry Martini is the chain’s best-selling cocktail; it’s mixed with a house-made raspberry-essence-infused vodka.
Amanda Baltazar is a freelance writer based in the Pacific Northwest who frequently writes about food and beverages.