The happy combination of burgers and beers has been the bedrock of the burger-bar boom. The rise of craft beers kept the burger business afloat during the dark years of the Great Recession.
Now Carl’s Jr.—fresh off the Midnight Moonshine Burger and its White Lightnin’-flavored sauce that it rolled out in March—is testing a burger ‘n beer in one. Wreckless Eating’s Matt Zion reports that the chain is testing a “Budweiser Brew House Bacon Cheeseburger.” The toppings are “Budweiser Beer Cheese,” applewood-smoked bacon and caramelized onions. Marketing signage uses the new, more modern Budweiser logo redesigned by Jones Knowles Ritchie and introduced on the beer’s packaging earlier this year.
CKE, which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, has long been intrigued with creating burgers that sound like they have alcohol, but of course don’t. In 2013, Hardee’s did a Jim Beam Bourbon Thickburger.
Budweiser has much more resonance with Carl’s Jr.’s audience than either moonshine or bourbon. And while a Bud Burger would be a natural for the July 4th weekend, Carl’s Jr. is busy promoting its new all-natural charbroiled chicken. But the summer is young.
Apparently nothing really gets removed from the McDonald’s menu. The McWrap is back at New York Tri-State restaurants as part of a “Summer With Caesar” promotional menu. There’s a Premium Chicken Caesar sandwich, Premium Chicken Caesar Salad and Premium Chicken Caesar McWrap, all with shaved Parmesan cheese and a “zesty” new dressing. Brand Eating spotted it first.
Mighty Wings chicken wings are sneaking back, too. They popped up on the McDonald’s menu in Augusta, Ga. The Jalapeňo McChicken has returned to the menu in Chicago and a Hot ‘n Spicy Chicken Biscuit is selling in New Orleans.
Burger King is using the “This great food is from where?” taste-test tactic that McDonald’s has used several times in the recent past. This time, Hungry Jack’s (Burger King) in Australia is surprising unsuspecting customers at the fake “Pop Up Café” by revealing that that 100% Arabica coffee is really from the quick-service burger chain. Their shock and awe is caught on camera and used in a TV spot for Hungry Jack’s new coffee, which is “made with 100% Arabica beans sourced from the coffee regions of Mexico, Brazil and Papua New Guinea.”
McDonald’s used this surprise tactic in the U.S. for its U.S. introduction of Buttermilk Crispy Chicken last September, with the upscale McMör burger in Ireland and to introduce a Pulled Chicken Burger in Hong Kong earlier this year.
Shake Shack has introduced a UK version of the Bacon CheddarShack burger that made its debut here at the beginning of June. The UK burger (below), called simply the CheddarShack, is a 100% Aberdeen Angus beef patty with double British free-range Wiltshire cure smoked bacon and Shack Cheddar cheese sauce.
The all-American Bacon CheddarShack is a 100% all-natural Angus beef patty with smoked Niman Ranch bacon and Wisconsin aged cheddar cheese sauce.
But the UK also gets a strawberry and marshmallow Match Point Shake in honor of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, on now.
Summer always brings a few new salads to burger-concept menus. Wendy’s Summer Berry Chicken Salad (below) has grilled chicken breast, “hand-chopped,” lettuce, strawberries and blackberries (something it claims no other national QSR has), creamy feta cheese and crisp red apple chips on a mix of 11 different greens with a light blackberry vinaigrette. Wendy’s salad is $6.79 for a full sized entrée or $4.79 for a half-sized salad.
The Habit Burger Grill has something similar. Its new Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad has seasoned chargrilled chicken breast with “hand-cut” garden greens, fresh sliced strawberries, dried blueberries and crumbled feta cheese with house-made strawberry balsamic vinaigrette.