June 12, 2023

Aldaco’s Mexican Cuisine finds ways to spice up alcohol sales

San Antonio restaurant group takes to-go margaritas to the next level.
Owner-operator Blanca Aldaco

Owner-operator Blanca Aldaco says cocktails to-go was a way to provide the food and drink customers craved during the pandemic, but couldn’t consume inside the restaurant.

Three years ago, when Blanca Aldaco decided to serve margaritas to go at her restaurant, she didn’t consider it would turn into the game changer it’s become.

Aldaco, owner of Aldaco’s Mexican Cuisine in San Antonio, says cocktails to-go was a way to provide the food and drink customers craved during the pandemic, but couldn’t consume inside the restaurant. Thanks to her team’s quick work and innovation, guests could order the drinks online as part of a “kit” complete with fresh lime and salt, if they purchased food with it and picked it up curbside. They could either enjoy it outside on the restaurant’s patio or take it home. The beverages were an instant hit.

To-go beverages become a game changer

“It really changed everything,” she says. “It was a great way for us to increase our per-person [check] average. The law required guests to purchase food with the drinks, and it was affordably priced. We were doing up to 50 orders a day, all 100% mobile, and worked as fast as we could to satisfy demand.”

From the outset, Aldaco knew alcohol to-go would be big—a new way of doing business—and was determined to get ahead of the competition. To overcome supply issues, she recycled and repurposed glass bottles for the margaritas, and partnered with her tequila supplier for other goods like shakers, carriers, and other packaging materials. Soon, other liquor companies, seeing her success, wanted in on the action.

“We relied on the relationships we had with our existing vendors,” she says. “They really stepped up. And we decided to have fun with it. We had so many ideas, ways to market it that made the difference. We posted funny videos online, but we were all business. We had staff dedicated to servicing our alcohol-to-go program and made sure everything was organized. I have to say every single order contained some kind of alcohol-to-go beverage, either a single-glass cocktail or a liter of margaritas. During the pandemic, sales were 50% alcohol. Today, it’s about 60% food and 40% alcohol.”

Read our report, “On the Menu: Trends in On- and Off-Premises Beverage Alcohol,” today!

Aldaco’s alcohol-to-go sales remain brisk, even though diners have returned to enjoy the ambience of on-premises dining. It continues to be a big revenue stream for her business, with half-gallon frozen margaritas and liters of the restaurant’s award-winning MPO margaritas driving sales. 

She notes, however, there’s room to grow beverage sales. She’s looking at special occasions, like Father's Day, to offer a to-go whiskey kit including a small bottle of Uncle Nearest (her friend's brand), a cigar cutter, and an Old Fashioned glass. She's also planning to add more on-premises live music events, which she feels could boost beverage sales.

“We’re passionate about ensuring that the quality of our drinks is on par with our food,” she says. The goal is to continue doing what we do really well, but even better, and maximize every aspect of this restaurant. We always want to be recognized as leaders in what we do.”

Download the report