Just like the smell of sunscreen or the sound of a rolling suitcase, a special occasion cocktail can be the key to a vacation mindset. During travel times complicated by the global pandemic, a fun cocktail has helped make evenings at home feel like virtual getaways.
As a result, Americans have been turning to Google over the past year for at-home cocktail inspiration — both for brand new recipes to try and for recipes to concoct their tried and true favorites at home. In fact, search interest for “cocktail recipes” in March of 2020 was nearly double what it was in March of 2019.
While it’s no surprise that Americans have been making cocktails to spice up monotonous quarantine days, we did wonder: which cocktails have been most popular for Americans looking for flavorful escapes? Did Northerners sip on beachy piña coladas to transport them to warmer weather? Did Kentuckians muddle mint juleps even when Churchill Downs was closed?
To determine Americans’ favorite quarantine-era cocktails, we first compiled a list of the most common and most popular cocktails around the U.S. Next, we pored over Google Trends data from the past 12 months for each cocktail to see which one Americans searched for the most.
We analyzed the results on both a state-by-state basis and a national level. Additionally, we looked at seasonal trends by determining the most searched cocktails in both the warm weather months of spring and summer (3/19/20 through 9/22/20) and the cold weather months of fall and winter (9/23/20 – 12/31/20).
It has to be five o’clock somewhere, so take a seat and see what we uncovered!
The Most Popular Cocktails Around the U.S.
First up, we looked at the most popular cocktails in every state.
The mimosa was the top-searched cocktail in 6 states from Colorado to Maryland. The classic brunch blend of orange juice and Champagne is the perfect drink for switching up boring breakfasts with at-home brunches. It’s hard not to feel a little brighter when sipping on the fizzy, citrusy drink during a Zoom brunch with friends or while recreating your favorite diner’s pancakes at home. Still, it is interesting to see so many searches for a libation that’s quite simple to concoct.
The next most popular cocktails were the Pina Colada, the Wine Cooler, the White Russian, the Margarita, and the Mojito (all in three states each). All of these drinks aren’t exactly casual, everyday drinks, making it especially interesting that they would find popularity in such geographic ranges. For instance, the piña colada was the top-searched cocktail in both New Jersey and New Mexico; the White Russian was the top-searched drink in Alaska and West Virginia; the mojito was the top-searched drink in Washington and Virginia. All of this goes to say that no matter where you live, a fun cocktail is a plane ticket to flavor!
Some standout popular cocktails included Mississippi’s favorite, the old-fashioned, which Mississippians hopefully mix up using some local, Southern whiskey. The cosmopolitan earned unexpected popularity in Vermont.
The Most Popular Warm and Cold Weather Cocktails in the U.S.
Next, we took a deep dive into the most popular warm-weather cocktails in the U.S. After all, we know that Americans love to use their credit card points to explore warm locales like the Caribbean and even South America. People likely turned to refreshing, cool cocktails in their own homes to recreate the tropical vacation experience as they stayed home during the warmer months.
During the spring and summer months, the top-searched cocktails included the Painkiller, the margarita, and the appletini.
For those who aren’t familiar with a Painkiller, it is the ultimate beachy drink, complete with pineapple juice, rum, and orange juice. In states like Rhode Island and Massachusetts, people were making the most of their socially-distanced northern summers by making some of these cocktails. We only hope they had some lobster rolls to go with them.
Indeed, during the summer months, we were glad to see that the top-searched drink in Kentucky was the mint julep. Maybe Kentuckians put on their hats and muddled some mint for at-home derby celebrations after all!
There were some standout drinks over the warm weather months that we didn’t expect to see. For instance, in Arkansas, where you may expect humidity-burdened residents to prepare a refreshing drink, the top-searched cocktail was the dry martini, which may be better suited for a cozy, steakhouse dinner in the city.
The popularity of the martini made us wonder about which drinks Americans were drinking during the winter months.
We weren’t sure what we would see in terms of popular cold-weather drinks. After all, some Americans may have used summery cocktails to escape their cold confines during the pandemic. Still, others may have missed the liquid heat that they usually sip on at crowded bars during the cold months.
We found that, generally, people chose to pour themselves some liquid sunshine. Nationally, the top 3 cold-weather cocktails were the mimosa, the margarita, and the Moscow mule. Interestingly, all 3 of these drinks call special occasions to mind, be it an endless mimosa brunch or a cheese board dinner with fizzy Moscow mules. Perhaps Americans were finding new ways to celebrate theme nights as quarantine lasted through the winter months.
On the other hand, some states got really into spiked warm drinks. For instance, in chilly Wyoming, residents were searching for hot buttered rum, a cold-weather drink filled with rum, butter, hot water or cider, and a sweet twist. We can only imagine how comforting a hot buttered rum would taste after a day spent safely exploring the wonders of Yellowstone.
Overall, we had fun exploring Americans’ favorite cocktails over the past year. Even imagining crisp appletinis and punchy margaritas had us remembering our silliest Zoom cocktail hours and at-home theme nights.
In the end, the cocktails that Americans searched for showed that people were willing to treat themselves to some fun, delicious flavors even when they couldn’t head to local bars or travel to destination restaurants.
With that being said, we are excited to travel safely again in the near future. So here’s to sipping our favorite drinks in our favorite places soon!