With the arrival of the warmer days of summer, the introduction of seasonal limited-time offers is speeding up. This year, much of the post-Memorial Day action seems to be on the beverage side of the menu. Restaurants are trying to lure vacationers and regulars with drinkable specials that do more than just quench summer thirst. Several of these six beverages either come with the bonus of health benefits or provide an indulgent treat—both of which help meet the increased demand for snacking: Some 19% of younger consumers now opt for a beverage as a midmorning or midafternoon snack, according to Technomic’s Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report. Check out the drink specials hitting chain menus now.
1. Watermelon gets a beauty boost
Jamba Juice is launching two new watermelon smoothies, one of which borrows an ingredient from the cosmetics world. Poolside Fit is blended with watermelon juice, cucumber, lemon, strawberry, peach and collagen—a protein used in face creams and other products to produce glowing skin. Collagen also promotes healthy joints, and watermelon is rich in the antioxidant lycopene. The second smoothie, Watermelon Breeze, is more of a refreshing treat, combining watermelon juice, strawberries, raspberry sherbet and pineapple.
2. Shaking up iced tea
The 2017 Summer Drinks menu at Wendy’s includes two new iced teas shaken with fruit. The Mango Peach FruiTea Chiller has a base of green iced tea and is hand-shaken with mango and peach purees, and the Strawberry Passion FruiTea Chiller features green tea shaken with strawberries and passion fruit juice. Both are piggybacking on the popularity of last summer’s tropical green iced tea, according to a Wendy’s spokesperson.
3. Sipping through the color spectrum
The June 21 release of the movie “Transformers: The Last Knight” inspired a new line of Color Changing Slushes debuting this week at Sonic Drive-In. The icy drinks are served in transparent cups so customers can watch the colors “transform” as they stir the contents. The three flavor variations represent the film's most popular characters: Optimus Prime, a cherry slush with a layer of blue raspberry flavor; Megatron, a clear slush with grape flavor; and Bumblebee, an orange slush with grape flavor.
4. Candy comes back to the cup
After a five-year absence, McDonald’s is bringing back its Rolo McFlurry this summer. The “fan favorite,” according to a release announcing the item’s return, features caramel and milk chocolate candy pieces blended with McDonald’s reformulated vanilla soft serve. The soft serve recipe now contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives and will be the base for about 60% of the chain’s treats, including the McCafe Shakes and McFlurries.
5. Cold brews with a San Francisco vibe
Peet’s Coffee & Tea introduced a summer beverage lineup of cold brews with names that evoke San Francisco’s notorious fog. The Cold Brew Fog is made with an East African coffee whipped up with a touch of chicory, while the Cold Brew Fog Latte adds milk to the mix. Peet’s Mojito Black Tie is more complex: A blend of cold brew and minty mojito are layered on top of sweetened condensed milk with a crown of half-and-half. From May 19 through August 25, Peet’s is offering buy one, get one free every Friday from 1-3 p.m.
6. Spiking summer’s fresh flavors
Five alcoholic drinks are getting the seasonal treatment at Houlihan’s. The chain’s new menu of Cultivated Cocktails includes many fruit-forward options with fresh herbal accents. Blueberry Rosemary Lemonade features housemade lemonade, blueberry vodka, muddled blueberries and rosemary, garnished with fresh blueberries and a rosemary sprig, while the Spicy Charred Pineapple is a mix of tequila, housemade sour mix, muddled charred pineapple and jalapeno pepper, served with a grilled pineapple wedge and jalapeno slice adorning the glass. The five cocktails are available at participating Houlihan’s for a limited time this summer.