Applebee’s this week introduced a new Spirited Cuisine menu featuring more-premium dishes made with wine, bourbon and beer.
Borrowing a page from fine dining, the dishes use alcohol to deglaze a pan, or as the base for a demi-glace, or simply as a flavoring.
Applebee’s has been working to build bar sales, and the new menu “melds bar with grill,” the company said.
New dishes include Napa& Portobellos, a grilled chicken breast in a cabernet demi-glace with onions, Portobello mushrooms and Parmesan over a bed of zucchini, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, and crispy red potatoes. This dish also falls among Applebee’s under-550-calorie items.
Also on the menu is Brew Pub Pretzels & Beer Cheese Dip, which includes soft pretzel sticks finished with sesame seeds, coarse salt and crushed red pepper that can be dipped in a white cheddar sauce spiked with craft beer.
The two new menu items join the Double Barrel Whisky Sirloin that was added to the menu last year. That dish has two 4-ounce blackened sirloins with caramelized onions, garlic mashed potatoes and a bourbon-based sauce.
“We obsessed over combining wine, bourbon and beer with top ingredients to create craveable dishes that are approachable for our guests,” said Michael Slavin, Applebee’s executive. “Just a touch goes a long way in delivering the unique, well-balanced flavors of Applebee’s new Spirited Cuisine menu.”
The new items are being supported by a series of television ads that feature “flair bartender” Christian Delpech demonstrating his gift for flipping bottles and other things to the Run DMC tune “It’s Tricky.”
Based in Kansas City, Mo., the Applebee’s chain includes about 2,000 locations globally. Applebee’s is a subsidiary of Glendale, Calif.-based DineEquity Inc.