Pumpkin spice lattes approached the saturation point, with both Jack in the Box and McDonald’s developing their own versions of the drink. This forced coffee specialists to diversify: The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf came out with a Toffee Nut Latte, and Starbucks, which started the pumpkin spice trend, introduced a gingerbread latte. Dunkin’ Donuts added a Red Velvet Latte to go along with its other seasonal flavors: peppermint mocha and white chocolate (pictured). Burger King also introduced lattes for the first time, but in plain, vanilla, mocha and caramel flavors.
Chain restaurants started offering cocktails that synched with their food concepts. For instance, Joe’s Crab Shack introduced “Moonshine Cocktails” (pictured) that reinforced the chain’s southern heritage. Fogo de Chão, a Brazilian chain, introduced four versions of Brazil’s national drink, the Caipirinha.
Consumption of this sparkling, fruit-based potent potable surged this year, showing up at such chains as California Pizza Kitchen, Smokey Bones (pictured), The Counter and Chili’s.
The proliferation of small breweries across the nation has given chain restaurants a way to source local product without looking to farmers. Chains such as Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill are encouraging local managers to seek out popular local beers, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is holding local craft beer dinners, and Smashburger (pictured) recommends specific local beers to drink with its hamburgers and chicken sandwiches in many of the markets where it operates.
Tea, especially green tea, is being lauded for its health benefits, and chains grabbed onto that halo and made it their own by adding fruit, such as the Pomegranate Berry Iced Tea at La Madeleine and the Peach Iced Tea at Burger King (pictured).
This is part of NRN's Year in Review series, which recaps notable happenings in the restaurant industry over the past year.
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