Applebee’s wasn’t exaggerating when it said it planned to return to its value-based roots. On Thursday, the nation’s largest casual dining chain announced its second $1 alcoholic deal in the past three months. In October, it was the Dollarita—a $1, 10-ounce margarita that generated no shortage of buzz (and controversy at times.). Now, Applebee’s is offering $1 Long Island Iced Teas, better known as the Dollar L.I.T., all December. The name is even trademarked.
The drink is made with a new mix of vodka, rum, gin, tequila, triple sec, and sweet & sour mix with a splash of cola, Applebee’s said. It’s available all day, every day in December.
“The Dollar drink is back at Applebee's just in time for the holidays, and this time, folks can enjoy a $1Long Island Iced Tea," said Patrick Kirk, vice president of beverage innovation at Applebee's, in a statement. "The Dollar L.I.T. is kind to your pocket book and a great drink to share with old friends and new ones this holiday season."
An Applebee’s spokesperson told BuzzFeed Food, “The Long Island Iced Tea is one of our top five bestselling cocktails and depending on the time of year—our top selling one.”
Applebee’s said exact spirits may vary, which was an issue with the Dollarita at certain locations, but each drink is prepared with the same amount of 75-proof alcohol, the brand said. There will be 1.5 ounces of spirit in each drink.
The Dollarita, while mostly a hit on social media, did draw the ire of one poster who uploaded a video claiming to be a bartender at the chain. He showed the drink being made in a 5-gallon bucket on the floor and said it was prepared by mixing a gallon of concentrated margarita mix, a gallon of “bottom shelf” tequila, and 3 gallons of tap water.
Applebee’s responded by saying it couldn’t confirm if the poster actually worked at Applebee’s and if the video was even real. It did, however, say the video showed the Dollarita being made incorrectly and not according to the brand’s instructions.
Like the Dollarita, Applebee’s will garner serious attention for its latest $1 deal. And it appears these kind of offers and promotions are a sign of things to come for the struggling chain.
In the third quarter, domestic systemwide same-store sales fell 7.7 percent, year-over-year. The DineEquity chain’s revamped leadership, which includes a new CEO, president, culinary officer, and chief operations officer, has stressed the company’s value-based expertise in recent months.
“On the culinary front, we'll shy away from niche and trendy menu items while embracing broadly appealing mainstream flavor profiles as well as abundant value,” John Cywinski, Applebee’s president, who came over from Brinker in March, said in November. “Our new disciplined testing and validation process is now in place as we build our innovation pipeline with a relentless guest orientation. Importantly, all culinary innovations will have a clear operations complexity filter prior to consideration. This is an essential part of our new process.”
“We'll target routine traditionalists as well as those very important value seekers, who prefer casual dining restaurants and Applebee's, in particular,” he added.
Back in August, Cywinski spoke more about this group of “value seekers.”
These guests, Cywinski said, jump from casual chain to casual chain looking for the best deal, not a specific menu item.
“Together, these segments are predisposed to like Applebee's a lot, and they make up a meaningful percentage of our core guests in revenue,” Cywinski said.