14 Cocktails From Chain Restaurants You Need To Try At Least Once

Are you looking for delicious cocktails without the long wait or exclusivity of fancy bars? Chain restaurants might be the answer. These establishments are highly reliable – and won't break the bank, which is why people keep returning, particularly millennials.

"Millennials are huge fans of convenience," as Yohan Varella, a marketing executive and millennial, explains in an interview with NBC News. "We don't like prepping and cooking our own food, we enjoy food we can eat with our hands, and we're usually on a budget, so chain restaurants pretty much are the personification of the answer to our wants."

You probably don't equate good cocktails with chains, but you might be pleasantly surprised if you try some. Many chain restaurants have rave-worthy drinks that are both delicious and inexpensive, including margaritas, martinis, mudslides, and more. Plus, chains are everywhere, meaning you don't have to worry about the long commute. So if you're looking for a convenient yet well-crafted cocktail, try one of these winners at a chain restaurant near you.

1. Italian Margarita (Olive Garden)

Olive Garden's signature cocktail is its Italian Margarita. It's still sour, salty, and tart like the regular version but comes with a shot of amaretto (an almond-flavored Italian liquor). It's served on the side so you can decide just how much you'd like to pour in – if any. We recommend taking a big sip of the margarita and then adding the entire shot. The combination may sound funky, but the amaretto adds a nutty flavor that's surprisingly delicious.

With 3-1/2 ounces of liquor, it's stronger than your average margarita. However, the amaretto cuts the sharpness of the tequila well, and this cocktail goes down smoothly. 

But although it's one of Olive Garden's most popular items, it's hard to imagine drinking a margarita alongside a pasta dish. We feel wine makes a better pairing for Italian food, but the Italian Margarita works perfectly as a pre-dinner cocktail or for a drinks-only evening. With the strong alcohol content and yummy flavor, a couple of these might make you feel pretty sweet and nutty yourself.  

2. Smoked Cinnamon Pecan Old Fashioned (Outback Steakhouse)

If bitter cocktails are your thing, Outback Steakhouse delivers. Its Smoked Cinnamon Pecan Old Fashioned is made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon and Angostura bitters. But instead of sugar, this recipe calls for house-infused cinnamon pecan syrup. This simple syrup gives the drink a sweet, nutty taste reminiscent of Thanksgiving. Think of a classic old fashioned with a hint of pecan pie.

This cocktail also comes with a very Instagrammable presentation. After the drink is mixed, bartenders use a cocktail smoker to light oak, fusing the smoke into the glass. The drink is quickly covered with a lid to soak up all that smokey flavor. When served, the top is lifted, unveiling a beautiful fog with oak and orange aromas. But don't take too much time pulling out that camera, as the smoke disappears quickly from this irresistible beverage.

This cocktail is one of Outback Steakhouse's newest additions, along with its Piña Koala, Spicy Mango'rita, and Blueberry Lavender Lemonade. However, it's definitely the most bitter of the bunch, which is excellent if you plan to eat an Outback porterhouse steak. While the meat is nutritious and filling, it isn't the easiest to digest. Luckily, old fashioned cocktails are made with bitters, which are renowned for their digestive support. When we consume bitter flavors, it stimulates digestion and supports liver function (via Healthline). So if that steak is feeling heavy in your stomach, wash it down with a Smoked Cinnamon Pecan Old Fashioned.

3. Asian Pear Mojito (PF Chang's)

Mojitos have that minty-fresh, citrus flavor that people love. It's just sweet enough without going overboard, and you can barely taste the rum. Mojitos taste so fresh because they are made with natural ingredients like lime wedges and mint sprigs that have been muddled to perfection. As such, making them is a bit labor-intensive but the drink is so satisfying it is worth the trouble – and all that sugar.

PF Chang's Asian Pear Mojito is slightly different from your typical mojito. Surprisingly, the drink does not contain any pear in the recipe. Instead, it is made with an apple liquor that adds the crispness you would expect from an Asian pear. On Twitter, one customer described it as, "Perfectly tart. Perfectly refreshing. Perfectly irresistible." If you're a mojito fan, this drink is an absolute must and pairs well with PF Chang's lettuce wraps or handmade dumplings.

4. Blackberry Long Island Iced Tea (TGI Fridays)

Long Islands are notorious for packing a punch while still tasting delicious. It's baffling how much booze they can fit into one drink without tasting like straight-up alcohol, and the TGI Fridays Blackberry Long Island Iced Tea is the perfect example of this. It has four liquors, including vodka, gin, rum, and triple sec. But instead of Coke, the restaurant adds Sprite and fresh, muddled blackberries to create a surprisingly light, fruity drink. 

This cocktail is so flavorful that the company started marketing it as a takeaway item. The traditional and blackberry Long Island iced teas are available in 16- and 24-ounce cans containing 10% alcohol (via GoToLiquorStore). This is significantly less than your standard Long Island cocktail, which has roughly 22% ABV (via VinePair). However, the Long Island cans travel well and are good picnic or party beverages.

So if you're not in the mood for wine or beer, grab a can or two and enjoy this lighter Long Island. And if you want the full-strength iced tea, head to your nearest TGI Fridays for the real deal. After all, why not make every day feel like a Friday?

5. Well-Mannered Dirty Martini (The Cheesecake Factory)

There are several variations of the martini, and the Cheesecake Factory has a fabulous one. The Well-Mannered Dirty Martini is made with dry vermouth and vodka (instead of gin). It's topped off with olive juice to give it that cloudy, salty tang we love from dirty martinis, but its garnish of blue cheese-stuffed olives is what truly sets this drink apart. The Cheesecake Factory does love all things cheese, and even its martini wouldn't taste quite right without some.

The Well-Mannered Dirty Martini is strong but won't weigh you down because it has virtually zero sugar. So if you prefer savory flavors, you'll enjoy every sip of this dry drink, along with its cheesy snack. And if you need more finger foods, this martini pairs well with many Cheesecake Factory appetizers. Our favorite was the ahi tuna over crispy rice squares. This snack and cocktail are the perfect pre-dinner combo that leaves you satisfied without spoiling your appetite.     

6. House Margarita Flight (Chevys Fresh Mex)

Chevys has an extensive margarita menu, which can lead to some serious analysis paralysis. That's why this must-try option isn't a single drink but three for the price of one. Chevy's House Flight comes with three mini margaritas in classic, mango, and strawberry flavors.

An ice-cold margarita is a great way to start the night, and most Americans would agree. In a 2019 poll by Nielsen IQ, 56% of the respondents said they order a margarita when dining out. And while the survey didn't specify flavors, Chevy's House Flight has three of the most popular varieties.

Chevys isn't in short supply of margarita options. So if none of these flavors tickle your tastebuds, try our runner-ups. The Jalapeno Cucumber strikes the perfect balance between refreshing and spicy and comes with a Tajin chili rim. The Famous Frozen Margarita is blended to absolute perfection and is made with classic ingredients, but you can also add flavors such as melon, coconut-pineapple, or pomegranate.

7. Snow Cone (Dave & Buster's)

Snow cones take us back to childhood when we ordered them at state fairs, boardwalks, or park stands. Our favorite flavors included red cherry, blue raspberry, or mango – but combining them was half the fun. Remember mixing these to form an icy rainbow? You might also recall the brain freeze from eating it way too fast.

You might secretly miss snow cones but feel too old to order one. Luckily, you don't have to bid farewell to these nostalgic icy treats. Dave & Buster's has the adult version, making it perfectly acceptable to order one at any age (well, any age over 21, that is).

The Original Snow Cone has watermelon schnapps, cherry vodka, blue curacao, and Malibu rum poured over freshly shaved ice and topped with a cherry. The result is a fun and fruity drink that puts that childish grin on your face while getting you tipsy. It's also the type of food you're meant to play with – so swirl up those colors to create a deep purple hue. And if cherry or coconut isn't your thing, try Dave & Buster's other snow cone options in strawberry mango, Miami Ice, and watermelon. They're all equally strong and fruity, bringing back memories of fun-filled summer days.

8. Blueberry Lavender Lemonade (Outback Steakhouse)

Another winner from Outback Steakhouse, the Blueberry Lavendar Lemonade is a light pink bevvie that was "Inspired by Australia's lavender fields." You can taste the sweet blueberry and floral lavender notes, which mask the vodka nicely. The chain did a beautiful job combining these ingredients with lemonade in just the right ratios. In a Yelp review, Chelsea F. describes, "It's refreshingly delicious. So if you like any of those flavors, you'll more than likely like them all together."

The Blueberry Lavender Lemonade is a fun, flirty drink that gives off spring vibes, especially since it's garnished with a lemon wedge and fresh lavender sprig. It's great for those who want something sweet without a strong alcoholic taste.

And if you're in the mood to stay in, Outback Steakhouse also offers this drink to-go. The takeaway order comes with two servings you can share them on a romantic picnic – or keep both to yourself.

9. Tito's Premium Bloody Mary w/ Jumbo Shrimp (Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co.)

Nothing says brunch like a Bloody Mary. Tito's Premium Bloody Mary with Jumbo Shrimp at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is a mouthful to say and consume. Aside from vodka, the drink comes with Dimitri's Bloody Mary Seasoning, chilled jumbo shrimp, olives, celery, and pepperoncinis. With all those savory garnishes, it's pretty much an appetizer and drink in one.

As the name implies, the chain makes its Bloody Mary with Tito's handmade vodka, which Chris Carlsson from Spirits Review describes as "Very smooth – it just glides down the throat, silky, slightly hot at the end." This is exactly what you want in your Bloody Mary, especially if you're drinking it in the morning.

So if you're looking for a hair of the dog hangover cure, Bubba Gump's Shrimp has the answer. Plus, the restaurant is an experience in itself and is sure to perk you up. From the fishing boat decor to Forest Gump quotes, the restaurant is fully committed to its theme.

10. Perfect Margarita (Applebee's)

Applebee's is known for cheap cocktails and happy hour specials. But just because these drinks are surprisingly affordable, it doesn't mean they're not delicious. The restaurant has multiple tasty sangrias, tropical beverages, and Long Island teas – not to mention an extensive beer collection.

But the fan favorite is definitely the Perfect Margarita. In a 2022 survey, 35% of the people surveyed stated that the margarita is Applebee's best cocktail. The ingredients for a chain restaurant are top-notch, including 1800 Reposado, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, and lime juice. And although many margaritas use silver tequila, this reposado adds complexity and a satisfying bite. Reposado tequila is aged in oak barrels for 2 to 12 months, which is more than silver but less than añejo (via Agave Cocina & Tequilas). As such, it has a slightly smoky flavor but isn't overwhelming.

If you live in a state that allows carry-out alcohol, you can even order your Perfect Margarita to go. And if the classic flavor isn't for you, the drink is also available in dragon fruit, mango, passion fruit, and strawberry.

11. Deep Eddy Citrus Shandy (Ruby Tuesday)

If you're in the mood for something refreshing but with a kick, try the Deep Eddy Citrus Shandy at Ruby Tuesday. A shandy, or radler, is a European cocktail made with beer and citrus juice. Radler translates to cyclist in German, which makes sense since this drink originates within the cycling community. The legend dates back to the early 1900s when a German innkeeper experienced a surge of customers who were predominantly cyclists (he was conveniently located along a popular cycling route). With a small supply and suddenly heavy demand, the innkeeper had to get creative. He combined his limited beer with lemon soda, and low and behold, the radler was born (via Merriam-Webster).

It's no surprise these thirsty cyclists loved the new drink. On a hot summer day, this uber-refreshing beverage hits just right. Ruby Tuesday's version uses Blue Moon Belgian ale and Deep Eddy's red grapefruit vodka and lemon juice, only enhancing the drink's citrus flavor. However, like the innkeeper's beer, Ruby Tuesday's shandy has limited availability, and supplies won't last forever. So jog or bike on over to your local Ruby Tuesday and cool off with an ice-cold shandy.

12. Tiki Passion Punch (Red Lobster)

If you like tropical flavors, you'll love the cocktails at Red Lobster, especially the Tiki Passion Punch. This sweet concoction includes a mixture of Sprite and three juices: passion fruit, mango, and pineapple. As the drink's name suggests, passion fruit is the star of the show and adds a nice tartness. The dark rum adds a deep molasses flavor, and the Sprite really brightens things up. Altogether, it's light and fruity and perhaps too easy to drink. It's a good choice for a summer day or a festive celebration. 

And if you want the sweetness of this drink to stand out, we'd recommend pairing it with appetizers like calamari or coconut shrimp. According to a study published in Nature, salt can enhance sweet flavors by suppressing bitter ones. So if your tastebuds crave both sugar and salt, test out this food and drink combo at your local Red Lobster.     

13. House Frozen Mar-go-ritas (Chili's)

One way to elevate your margarita is to get it frozen, especially when the sun is beating down. Frozen margaritas have all the sweet and sour tastes of a regular drink but with the texture of blended ice. It's basically an alcoholic slushie and a must-try on the Chili's menu. Chili's House Frozen Mar-Go-Ritas come in classic, mango, and strawberry.

On Reddit, one die-hard fan couldn't last the summer abroad without their beloved beverage, appealing to Chili's bartenders, "I am a stranded American in Germany without Chili's. I love your frozen margaritas and purchased a slushy machine to [...] give me a taste of home [...] could you please share what you use and in what proportions?" A helpful insider came to the rescue with precise measurements.

Now that's some serious dedication to a single beverage. Purchasing a slushie machine isn't very practical, but visiting your local Chili's restaurant (or ordering a margarita to-go) is an easy way to try this fantastic frozen drink. Because if you like regular margaritas, you'll love Chili's frozen version.

14. Mudslide (The Old Spaghetti Factory)

The Old Spaghetti Factory's Mudslide is a delicious, alcohol-based dessert that lives up to its name. Imagine a giant scope of vanilla ice cream with vodka, Baileys, Kahlua, and chocolate syrup. It's a sweet muddy mess that everyone should try at least once. 

However, this isn't just your average chocolate sundae. Kahlua is a coffee liquor and Baileys is a popular Irish cream, but both are sweet, creamy, and best served cold. When paired with vanilla ice cream, the combination tastes like a white Russian milkshake. But don't be fooled by its rich chocolate flavor – this dessert will get you drunk, and there's no virgin version. 

Making a mudslide at home is simple enough but requires buying all the ingredients. However, there's something special about treating yourself to this decadent cocktail at a restaurant. So if you're celebrating something special – or someone special – head to the Old Spaghetti Factory to indulge in this boozy desert.