T.G.I. Friday’s breaks down new cocktail menu

Current flavor trends are being featured

Current flavor trends and T.G.I. Friday’s brand heritage are reflected in a new line of cocktails for the casual-dining chain, according to Matthew Durbin, vice president of beverage and bar for Carlson Restaurants, parent company to Friday’s.

Carrollton, Texas-based T.G.I. Friday’s debuted the cocktails last week at its 555 U.S.-based units. The chain has more than 900 locations globally. Durbin discussed drink trends and the menu rollout with Nation’s Restaurant News on Tuesday.

“The spicy Margarita is white-hot right now,” he said. “Smashes are super-hot, and the trend of better versus bigger cocktails has been going on for several years.”

Friday’s own spicy Margarita is in the form of the Tiki Torch, which combines tequila with muddled pineapple, triple sec, lime and chipotle pineapple syrup. It is all shaken, poured and strained “loosely,” so chunks of pineapple drop into the drink, over ice in a glass rimmed with kosher salt, sugar and blackening seasoning. The price varies depending on location, but averages around $8.50.

Durbin said sweet-and-spicy and sweet-and-salty flavor combinations are popular these days, and the Tiki Torch has all three of those flavors.

“It’s one of the chef-inspired cocktails that taps into some of the ingredients in the kitchen,” he added. The sharing of kitchen and bar ingredients is itself another cocktail trend.

T.G.I. Friday’s new Fresh Watermelon Mojito reflects the importance of seasonality, Durbin said. The cocktail includes mint and watermelon lightly muddled and shaken with lime-infused rum, agave nectar and limejuice. It is then poured into a Collins glass, topped with soda and garnished with two watermelon cubes and a mint sprig. The cocktail is priced around $8.25.

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