cocktail kits

Trend watch: Freebies, honey-flavoured condiments, and DIY cocktail kits

By Sophie Mir

Even as patios across the nation are reopening, Canadian restaurants continue to churn out innovative ideas to keep takeout and delivery customers happy and coming back for more, from gifts with purchase to DIY cocktail kits. We’re breaking down three emerging trends you’ll see crop up over the course of the summer.

Freebies with Purchase

As foodservice faces unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants have had to become creative in coming up with ways to draw in customers. With physical distancing guidelines in effect and most dining rooms still in the process of reopening, we’re seeing operators roll out freebies with purchases as an extra incentive for customersto visit stores.  

  • Freebies are often comfort foods, such as chicken wings, queso, fried pizza dough bites, and mozzarella sticks
  • Free with minimum purchases ranging from $20 to $30, or with an entree such as ribs
  • Focus on value and making the most of your dollar during a pandemic

Menu Examples:

  • St-Hubert is offering free chicken wings with the purchase of ribs.
  • East Side Mario’s is providing free Budda Boomers with a $30 or more purchase.   
  • A bottle of St. Louis Bar & Grill’s Famous Garlic Dill Sauce is available with the purchase of the Wing Dinner for Two meal.

Honey-based Condiments

With more than seven in 10 (71 per cent) of consumers reporting they would like to see more restaurants offering sauces that feature a combination of flavours, according to Technomic’s 2019 Canadian Flavour Consumer Trend Report, operators are unveiling unique flavoured-honey sauces and other honey-based condiments in a variety of entrées.  

  • Honey-lime dip, honey-citrus vinaigrette, and honey-miso and honey-garlic sauces
  • Spotlighted on burgers and in bowls, quesadillas, and chicken dishes
  • Honey’s sweet taste complements bitter, earthy, and pungent flavours

Menu Examples:

  • Red Robin Gourmet Burgers recently introduced the limited-time Zen Chicken Burger, featuring honey-miso sauce.
  • Swiss Chalet menus Honey Garlic Chicken, featuring the chain’s Famous Rotisserie Chicken glazed with honey garlic sauce.
  • Cactus Club Café recently rolled out its Pesto Chicken Quesadilla, featuring honey-lime dip.

Adult Beverage Kits

Some provinces, such as New Brunswick and Ontario, eased up on their alcohol regulations during the pandemic, allowing restaurants to sell adult beverages with takeout and delivery orders. Operators are responding by debuting alcohol beverage and cocktail kits, offering customers a bit of fun under stay-at-home orders.

  • Frosé and DIY cocktail kits
  • Has everything a customer needs to make signature drinks at home, including mixers and garnishes
  • Mood-elevating activity during pandemic

Menu Examples:

  • Earls rolled out its Aperol Spritz Kit, which comes with 750 millilitres of Aperol, a bottle of Villa Marchesi prosecco, a 750-millilitre bottle of Pellegrino sparkling water, and a large orange for garnishing.
  • Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill launched its Jack’s at Home Caesar Kit, featuring 200 millilitres of Absolut vodka, two 8-ounce Jack’s Classic Caesar Mixes, 2 ounces of Matt & Steve’s Caesar rimmer, a lime, two pickle spears, two celery sticks, four grape tomatoes, and a recipe card.  
  • Lone Star Texas Grill debuted its Mar-Go-Rita kits, which include a litre of Classic Lime Margarita Mix, 200 millilitres of Hornitos tequila, house-smoked salt, limes, and oranges.

About the Author

Sophie Mir is an Associate Editor for Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based foodservice research and consulting firm. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. The company’s services include publications and digital products as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry.

Visit technomic.com for more information.