Buffalo Wings & Rings looks at the challenge of keeping things fresh and interesting as an opportunity for fun. That’s why, when the restaurant met with its liquor and beer vendors in late 2016, corporate knew it wanted to include some unique additions to its drink menu. According to Buffalo Wings & Rings franchise business manager or beverage development and innovation Doug Morrison, Beer alone makes up to 20 percent of the restaurant’s revenue, and mix drinks make up about five percent of sales, depending on the location and market.
In fall of 2016, Buffalo Wings & Rings identified a system-wide bartender contest as the perfect way to make innovative upgrades to its menu. After speaking with its beverage vendors, the restaurant decided they needed new drinks to beef up four areas of the cocktail menu: a unique twist on a classic margarita, a fun martini, a sharable punch or sangria and a cocktail using a Coca-Cola product. Prizes for the first three winners included $250 Visa gift cards, while the winner of the cocktail using a Coca-Cola product would win two round-trip tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S. The contest yielded 40 submissions.
“We are always looking for inspiration and new ideas to elevate our guests’ experience at the restaurant,” says Diane Matheson, Vice President of Marketing at Buffalo Wings & Rings. “Therefore, we challenged our bartenders from across the country to reimagine four drinks based on trends and guest feedback for a chance of having their creation featured in our menu in 2017. The contest was a great way to get employees more involved in shaping the brand’s future.”
With a unique take on a classic frozen margarita, Bryan Torres in San Antonio blended El Jimador, triple sec, margarita mix and avocado, which makes the beverage creamy. Before serving, the glass is rimmed with cajun and lemon pepper seasoning and served with an orange or lime wheel. The martini, inspired by Jessica Fiebrich in New Braunfels, is truly unexpected, with shaken Titos, Razmatazz, watermelon pucker, sweet & sour and fresh lime juice, served in a martini glass rimmed with Tajin Classico Seasoning.
For the punch/sangria drink Caitlin Phillips in Crestview shook Titos vodka, triple sec, sour mix, ginger syrup, Bud Light, Sprite, cucumber and orange slices. The winner of two airline tickets for creating a cocktail with a Coca-Cola product, Tabitha Steuk in Aberdeen shook Malibu, Pina Colada mix, pineapple juice and Sprite, strained into an ice-filled glass and topped with a splash of Grenadine and a cherry.
“The new beverages are a really great addition to our menu,” says Morrison. “They’re very representative of what we’re trying to create at Buffalo Wings & Rings in terms of originality and taste. Based on how much we loved these drinks, we have no doubts our guests will love them, too.”
Buffialo Wings & Rings is now plannng on launching the winning beverages throughout the year as limited-time offers.