Chili’s Espresso Martini challenges the brand’s infamous margaritas

New Chili's Espresso Martini
New Chili's Espresso Martini / Chili's

While the fresh chips and salsa pair perfectly with the Presidente Margarita, another trending cocktail is going to be featured front and center on the menu. The new Chili’s Espresso Martini has a flavor twist that makes it all Chili’s and two famous cocktail queens are ready to raise a glass.

Going back to its inception, Chili’s has been a grill and bar. While food has always been the primary focus, the casual dining restaurant brand appreciates that a great cocktail enhances the overall experience.

Even though ice cold beer flows and the bar is well-stocked with many options, tequila and margaritas are often associated with Chili’s. It might not necessarily be part of the core four menu items, but the Mexican agave spirit has a tremendous influence on Chili’s bar program. As many people appreciate, that liquor, on its own and it a cocktail, is as enjoyable with an Oldtimer Burger as it is with a plate of sizzling fajitas.

Although the Presidente and other Margs of the Month will be part of the menu, Chili’s understands that it needs to adapt to food and beverage trends. Given that the espresso martini is everywhere, the restaurant brand found a way to bring that cocktail to its menu, but in a Chili’s way.

Speaking to the espresso martini menu, Jesse Johnson, Vice President of Marketing at Chili's Grill & Bar said, "Chili's is known for its iconic margaritas, but we make some fantastic cocktails, too. To me, an Espresso Martini made with tequila is not only far superior to vodka, but one that feels shaken with Chili's DNA. In working with cocktail queens Scheana and Katie, we found a recipe that even Espresso Martini haters are going to love.”

Chili’s Espresso Martini uses its connection to tequila to offer a more rounded, slightly sweet version of an espresso martini. Specifically, the cocktail is made with Lunazul Reposado Tequila, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Monin Agave Nectar, Owen’s Espresso Martini Mix, and topped with three coffee beans.

Chili's Espresso Martini
New Chili's Espresso Martini / Chili's

Recently, FoodSided was given an opportunity to test the Chili’s Espresso Martini at the brand’s headquarters. The well-shaken martini is different from other options. While the espresso flavor is there, there is a nuance and a hint of sweetness which makes this recipe quite drinkable.

First, the Lunazul Reposado Tequila adds a depth that is not found in a simple vodka recipe. The tequila, itself, has some vanilla and caramel notes that keep any bitterness from the espresso in check. Again, it is another layer of flavor to an otherwise simple cocktail.

Although the Captain Morgan is here, that tropical, spice flavor is not overpowering. It is like a touch of intrigue that keeps drinkers going back to figure out the secret in the glass.

Lastly, using the Owen Espresso Martini Mix is smart for Chili’s. Not only does it avoid having to have an espresso machine behind the bar, but it adds to the cocktail consistency. Whether guests step into a location in Dallas or Des Moines, the flavor will always be the same. That commitment to ensuring every guest experience satisfies, at every Chili’s location, is as vital as the “welcome to Chili’s” greeting at the door.

Scheana Shay and Katie Maloney for Chili's Espresso Martini
Scheana Shay and Katie Maloney for Chili's Espresso Martini / Chili's

Vanderpump Rules stars shake up a Chili’s Espresso Martini

As one of Bravo’s most popular series, Vanderpump Rules has captivated viewers with the complicated personal and work lives of its stars. Since cocktails often flow when the friends get together, Scheana Shay and Katie Maloney are helping Chili’s kick off the addition of its Espresso Martini.

Scheana, who once worked at Chili’s, is excited to reconnect with the brand. Katie, who has been known to have a fondness for tequila, is equally thrilled to showcase the cocktail.

The addition of the espresso martini as well as the connection to the Vanderpump Rules stars is another chapter in Chili’s creative marketing campaigns. Last year, the Boyz II Men baby back ribs jingle blended nostalgia with the iconic earworm that is and always will be part of the brand. It captured the right balance of hitting the brand’s core values while playing into the nostalgia trend.

Other recent campaigns found a way to capture those Chili’s core values. From partnering with Corey LaJoie during the Daytona 500 to the Brian McNight 3 For Me commercial, the “ChiliHead” mentality is about making memories in, around, and beyond the table.

The craving to head to that local, causal dining restaurant is more than love of chicken crispers. It is a welcoming atmosphere that serves delicious food at a great value. In the words of Norman Brinker, “Nothing is sacred, other than the guest returns.” From the hi, my name is to the goodbye, come again, everything from start to finish is about making the guest feel appreciated so that they will dine again.

Whether it is time shake up that cocktail order or end a meal with the new Chili’s Espresso Martini, one thing is clear about the latest Chili’s offering and its campaign. Everyone is welcome at Chili’s, just make sure the car has the right parking spot.