Colorado-born Chipotle Mexican Grill has launched a test drink program at its 6th and Broadway location in Denver. After months of dealing with fall-out from food safety issues and an outbreak of E. Coli that temporarily shuttered multiple locations, Chipotle founder Steve Ells brought on master sommelier Richard Betts to rethink its boozy offerings.
A winemaker and mezcal producer, Betts customized an all-natural frozen margarita made with Sombra Mezcal from Oaxaca, Astral Tequila, fresh lemon and lime juice, and agave nectar to be offered at this one Chipotle location. There is also a sangria made with some organic ingredients and served over ice with a lemon and orange garnish, plus a variety of other items including watermelon agua fresca, sodas, and beers.
"Steve Ells and I first started talking about a better margarita, and our discussion quickly expanded to include the entire beverage program," Betts shared. "Chipotle has been a model for Food With Integrity, and we apply that same ethos to beverage. This means examining everything from origin, to ingredients, to packaging and shipping concerns," he continued.
Booze at Chipotle is not new: The fast casual pioneer has served margaritas and beer in most of its restaurants since it first opened in 1993. The change today aims to integrate its drink program into the Food With Integrity mission, one through which the chain seeks "better food from using ingredients that are not only fresh, but that - where possible - are sustainably grown and raised responsibly with respect for the animals, the land and the farmers who produce the food."
There are no immediate plans to expand this test to other restaurants at this time.