The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 88 of 152

ON-PREMISE PATTER Chain Reaction WILD SHOT MEZCAL IS A BIG WINNER FOR TUMBLEWEED TEX MEX story and photos by Fred Minnick T his is not something I'm used to seeing at a chain restaurant's bar: fresh-squeezed limes, agave nectar and a cocktail shaker. Where are all the pre-mixed drinks? And, hey, why does the bartender actually understand the difference between Tennessee whiskey and bourbon, and how does he know what mezcal is? Is this really a chain? Welcome to Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill & Margarita Bar, a Midwest regional Tex-Mex chain competing with other casual-dining concepts. But behind the bar there's really no competition. Instead of watering down drinks and inding ways to inject cheap high-fructose corn syrup mixers into cocktails, the 28-unit chain uses fresh and all-natural ingredients. "If you get a Strawberry Margarita here, we're using real strawberries," says Steve Brooks, Director of Beverage Development for Tumbleweed. That may not sound like a big deal for you craft mixologists out there. But those fresh strawberries are found across all 28 stores in a chain that that sells millions of Margaritas every year. There's a reason why most chains go pre-mixed—it's easier. But in reaction to the norm, Tumbleweed doesn't take the easy way out. Brooks's beverage program accounts for ten percent of the chain's total sales, and there's one cocktail in particular that's separating Tumbleweed from other chains in the pasture. It's the Red Solo Cup using Wild Shot Mezcal, the brand from country music sensation Toby Keith. The cocktail's name is, of course, the name of Keith's mega-hit song "Red Solo Cup." Brooks actually approached the Toby Keith management group for permission to name the cocktail after the song. They said yes and have supported Tumbleweed with drink recipes, marketing and creative. "Toby Keith's people have been great," Brooks says. 88 / the tasting panel / january 2013 Steve Brooks, Director of Beverage Development for Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill & Margarita Bar, with his mezcal of choice, Wild Shot.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - January 2013