Despite the Dirty Shirley’s fated attempt last year to go down in the annals of “drink of the summer” history, history went and chose another path: no drink of the summer! At least that was the consensus from Chris Crowley’s 2022 Grub Street article which makes the case that we’ve fallen for these trend traps before. Even Bon Appétit agreed.
This article isn’t making a judgment on the matter either. Instead, we used Google Trends search data to see the drinks that are trending this year, alongside the industry trends we’ve kept a close eye on. And as the seasons change, so do bar menus. Consider adding these classics — or riffs on them — to your new seasonal menus.
The Most Popular Cocktails of 2023
Yes, younger folks are ordering these in droves. This famous mix of vodka and cranberry juice spawned from an advertising campaign in the 1940s. Originally known as a “Red Devil,” this brainchild from Ocean Spray would undergo a name change in the 60s in reference to its cranberry bog Northeast origins.
This classic has endured decades of prominence, peaking in popularity over the last few years, but after 500+ days since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it's taking on a new form. A movement rose last year to rename the Mule to show solidarity and support for Ukrainian independence. It’s political, but it's justified.
The Cosmopolitan —the cocktail that put vodka on the map — didn’t need the Sex in the City reboot to maintain cultural relevance — it’s done just fine on its own. Bartenders nationwide have debuted their renditions on cocktail menus for legacy Cosmo enthusiasts and newcomers alike.
Considered the reigning champion of culturally significant cocktails, the espresso martini maintains its grip on cocktail menus around the world. It’s not just “the drink for the fashion and art crowd” anymore, it’s just about everywhere you look. If this Overheard NY account is true, then there’s your proof.
It’s the thick of summer. Why not a rum punch? Few drinks are as refreshing after all. Although seasonal, this cocktail maintains its popularity due to its simplicity and delicious nature. As our collective craving for all things frozen grows, it’s one that truly turns heads in barrooms, especially with a bouquet of fruit garnishes.
Rum, mint, sugar, lime and club soda. Refreshing and quaffable. The Mojito lives on after hundreds of years in service. And with more interesting rum and rhums on the market, the drink is more versatile than ever. No wonder so many are searching for new and unique recipes online.
After a global pandemic, we’re thirsty for travel — whether in the literal sense or metaphorically. Tiki bars exist to transport us to another place and time and the Mai Tai is the quintessential tiki drink. It’s endured all these decades for its ability to wash away all troubles with a hefty mix of rum(s), curaçao, orgeat and lime juice. It’s the right drink for right now.
As consumers gain a refined taste for bitter aperitivos, they look to see how they’re incorporated in new, exciting ways. While the Jungle Bird dates back to the 1970s, this tiki cocktail is a fixture on bar menus nationwide. Blackstrap rum, pineapple and lime juice make it a refreshing cooler, while bitter Campari adds complexity and curiosity. It’s a tiki drink that has little interest in being a tiki drink.
Ah, the Martini. The most elegant of cocktails. There are a number of different ways to make it depending on your taste. Many arguments have been had over what is the right mix of spirit to vermouth, gin or vodka, twist or olive (or my personal preference: pickled onion). That can all be put to rest. The Martini is an expression of you and your tastes. That’s probably why they’re so popular these days. That and for somewhat satisfying our unquenchable thirst for boozy drinks.
This one has been trending for a few years, but as everyone seems to be holidaying on the Amalfi coast this summer, those of us who’ve remained stateside have been turning to the next best thing to pretend we’ve not been left behind. The Negroni does that. A simple and fortifying mix of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. It’s the perfect pre-dinner, mid-dinner and after-dinner drink. With so many new aperitivos on the market, it’s taking on new lifeforms, too. Hence why it’s one of this year’s most popular cocktails.
Agave is relishing in its moment as it continues its march to surpass vodka as the number-one spirit in America in the coming years. Actors galore are getting on the train. There are dozens of celebrity- and athlete-endorsed tequilas and mezcals out there. And as the spirit's most popular drink concoction, the margarita is poised to have even better years ahead.
This is an interesting one. This mix of tequila, orange juice and grenadine is cocktail 101, which is why it’s likely one of the top search results around tequila-based drinks.
No longer your grandfather’s cherry-adorned Manhattan, this classic cocktail has endured centuries because of its simple ingredients: whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. Today though, it’s been given the spa treatment, getting made over from barroom to barroom. And as many of us spend our days working from home, a classic, easy-to-make cocktail like the Manhattan is perfect for winding down after a busy workday, which is likely why it’s a popular search for U.S. consumers.
The cocktail that started it all. The Old Fashioned dawns back to 1806, when a reader of the upstate New York newspaper, The Balance, and Columbian Repository, expressed confusion about a reference to “cock-tail” in the previous week’s edition. From there, “cock-tail” evolved to “old-fashioned cocktail,” eventually becoming what it is today. Once a Mad Men-era staple, its resurgence, and reign at the top of the cocktail canon continues to this day.
This cocktail is considered a modern classic among today’s cocktail enthusiasts. Inspired by the M.I.A. song, “Paper Planes,” legendary bartender Sam Ross of Milk & Honey, was asked to create a signature cocktail for the opening of Chicago’s The Violet Hour. It’s an equal-parts sour in the same company as the Last Word and the Naked & Famous. Refreshing, sour, bitter, yet balanced, the cocktail took off in 2008 when it debuted on The Violet Hour’s menu and hasn’t faded from view since.