When one popular beverage collides with another, such as spiked milkshakes or blends of coffee and liqueur, customers tend to take note and trends are born. A good example of that phenomenon is Red Robin, where master mixologist Donna Ruch has updated the brand’s cocktail. First came a line of burger-compatible beer milkshakes, arriving on the scene in 2012, and now the Mango Moscato Wine Shake. Wine and milkshakes? Why not?
“We’ve been known for our adult boozy shakes and beer shakes, and now, wine shakes,” Ruch says. On average, the wine milkshakes are being offered for $7.49.
Ruch is the creative force behind the company’s innovative beverage program that includes can-crafted cocktails combining beer and spirits, served in reusable beer can drinkware.
Meanwhile, milkshakes are a natural for Red Robin’s gourmet burger-focused menu. Part of Ruch’s mixology philosophy involves presenting American classics and favorites in different ways. She says she looks at Red Robin’s bar program through the lens of being a great burger place. “How can we take beer and twist that into a cocktail? Adding wine or beer to milkshakes fits our menu,” she says. “I like to create things that are great for the brand, and great for the guest.”
No surprise, then, that some of the cocktail ingredients have been inspired by the food menu. “I’m lucky enough to work with a great culinary team and work closely with chefs,” Ruch says. “I use things from the kitchen and bring them into the bar—fresh herbs, savory seasonings like barbecue sauce and fresh fruit like mango that is used in salads. We use the fresh mango in a milkshake.” The pricing structure of drinks also suits the menu by offering customers a price range. “Our customers are willing to pay for premium drinks because that’s important to them. It’s true for the burgers, too, with premium tavern-style gourmet burgers. Guests can walk into a Red Robin and customize how much their check is going to be.”
Ruch says customer response to the Mango Moscato Wine Shake has been enthusiastic. “You look at what complements or contrasts—a salty, indulgent burger can go really well with a sweet drink.”
New summer drinks at Red Robin include the Wildbeer-y Can-Crafted Cocktail (in addition to vodka, it’s flavored with ingredients such as strawberry-raspberry puree, strawberry ale and lemonade) and the Beer ‘Rita Can-Crafted™ Cocktail combining Sauza Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila, triple sec and house-made sweet and sour mix topped with Coronita.