Drink specials are a thing of beauty.  Around here we can’t host Happy Hour so business owners and sales teams have developed countless other liquor promotions to fill seats and drive sales.

For example, last week Applebee’s announced their $1 margarita deal.

Across the Bar: Drink Specials are a Thing of Beauty if You Can Trust Them 1

The news sent some people into a frenzy. Is a $1 margarita worth subjecting yourself to the lackluster (and stomach-turning) food menu? Does it only take a dollar to stop your habit of referring to it by its other nickname? For the love of all the pumpkin spice anything, I really hope it didn’t take one dollar and a terrible margarita to sway you too quickly.

There is a secret behind drink specials like the $1 margarita, and the secret is what, exactly, you are drinking. If a brand name is not promoted with the drink special, you’re drinking junk. Not shocking for many readers, and for those who were already in on this “mind-blowing” tip, you can move on to Yussef’s food review now.

For everyone else, save yourself the dollar and the disappointment and keep scrolling.

Brands don’t always matter. You can get just as many compliments on clothes bought at Target as the ones you considered buying at Michael Kors. The quality, however, is where the difference is most important. And if you are ingesting copious amounts of tequila (or vodka, or rum, etc.) you want something a little bit better than well brand.

Even better than the no-name liquor is the mix that comes with these mystery drinks. To start, you can bank on excessive use of sour mix. Top it off with a nauseating amount of juice. That’s what you are paying for. You might be able to force down more than one, but it won’t be long into your second glass before that burning starts.  Worth it?

Sure, a $1 margarita isn’t a huge loss, but let’s not get caught up on that one example. The lesson here goes beyond a chain restaurant appealing to the masses.

When you are out and about, look for the drink specials that call out names you know. Those liquor vendors want you to enjoy their product. They want you to have an accurate pour that fully conveys how well the liquor blends with the other flavors. These brands frequently have a promotional team at the bar or restaurant offering free shots and blind taste-tests in addition to the special drink menu the bar is running. Pushing product at their expense in the hopes that next month you order it on your own.

Sangria and margarita pitchers are by far the most alluring drink specials. I won’t say no to a pitcher of sangria on the patio in the summer, or any season really. That is, of course, if it isn’t coming from a plastic jug and the bartender isn’t ashamed to make it in plain sight. There are places in Worcester where you can trust the quality of the product, and these are the exceptions to the rule. These are also the places where a “special” is only really a few dollars less than paying for individual drink rounds.

Ask your server what they are using. If it’s a dollar drink, don’t expect much. And don’t be surprised when they tell you that it won’t be the same price if you substitute for a better brand.

A dollar today is a sure-fire hangover tomorrow.

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