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Chipotle has long been a trendsetter. The restaurant chain pioneered the fast-casual concept, delved deep into sustainable sourcing on a large scale, and even inspired a book, The Chipotle Effect. But lately, the Denver-based chain has been on the defense as food safety concerns and outbreaks of sickened diners dominate its media coverage.
That said, Chipotle continues to move forward with its mission. Case in point: The company is testing a new beverage program, dubbed “Beverages With Integrity,” at its Sixth and Broadway location. Chipotle tapped the talented Richard Betts, a master sommelier, winemaker, and co-founder of Sombra Mezcal to lead the charge.
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I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t actually a decoy meant to deflect all the bad PR. In fact, Betts, who lives in Boulder, has been working on the new beverage program for two years now. His goal was to eliminate corn syrup, reduce overall sugar content, and create new drinks that align more closely with Chipotle’s overall ethos.
So, gone is the Patrón margarita. In its place, you’ll find a frozen concoction starring Betts’ mezcal. Though it may look like a slushy, this marg is distinctly not sweet, and it tastes, wondrously, of smoke and lime. The sangría, a drink that’s typically saccharine, is surprisingly good, made with organic Tempranillo and hints of pomegranate and blood orange. The new beer on the menu, a light Vienna lager called Beerito, was crafted by Oskar Blues Brewery to pair specifically with the flavor profile of Chipotle’s burritos. As of right now, this is the only place you can find this brew on tap.
Betts overhauled the nonalcoholic options, too, adding a refreshing watermelon agua fresca and hibiscus and black teas from In Pursuit of Tea. And while the Coca-Cola is still flowing at the drink fountain, it now shares space with a couple of natural Blue Sky Soda options.
As of now, the new beverages are only available at Chipotle’s Sixth and Broadway location in Denver. No doubt the company is waiting to see how customers respond before it shares any plans for expansion.
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