Food and Drink

What are the Popular Cocktails People Actually Drink?

Last week I sent out a simple question on social media asking what people’s three favorite cocktails are (this went out to Twitter and Facebook):

I know it’s a hard choice to make. I asked the question because I know I have a pretty broad range of followers on my social media channels, and they don’t follow me because of cocktails. I live in my own little cocktail-snobbery world most of the time, and while I am off trying all kinds of interesting new cocktails, I feel like I don’t have a good sense of what most people actually drink. If I was going to make a generally friendly and accessible bar menu for my friends, what should be on there other than my own personal favorites and things they’ve likely not heard of before? My friends are willing guinea pigs for my bar explorations, but I’d also like to have a solid set of drinks that people recognize and enjoy. There are a lot of standard, popular cocktails out there though. So, the question I asked was to get a starting place. I didn’t get a ton of responses, but what I got gave me this top 10 list, in order of popularity:

  1. Dark and Stormy/Moscow Mule
  2. Gin and Tonic
  3. Old Fashioned
  4. Margarita
  5. Bourbon and Coke/Rum and Coke
  6. White Russian
  7. Martini
  8. Daiquiri
  9. Mojito
  10. Apricot Sour

Yes, you’ll notice there are 12 drinks, and I combined a few of them that are really very similar. I also recognize that bars have trends like so many things in our culture, and I feel like some of this list reflects the current fads in the bar scene, notably the strong showing for the most popular combo. It isn’t surprising that the most popular drinks are highballs. They are great easy-drinkers that have a base liquor and a lot of mixer, most often soda or juice. All of the ones here are using something in the soda department: tonic water, ginger beer, and coke. Then we have a decent showing by the sour family, with the Margarita, Daiquiri, and a sweet, modern offshoot of the classic sours, the Apricot Sour. We have some classic, liquor-forward cocktails in the Old Fashioned and Martini, and then we have the more modern sweet drink, the White Russian. The Mojito is a drink with long history as well, and sort of sits in its own spot as it combines elements of a sour with a mint julep, and is a classic “tall” drink served with soda water.

This is a pretty fine list of drinks that covers quite a range of tastes, so I’m going to spend some time getting to know some of these drinks better, both in history and preparation, so that my home bar menu has a solid bench to draw on. Several of these are my own favorites as well (I’m a sucker for classic cocktails and sours) but I think some deeper exploration of history and experimentation would be fun. To that end I’ll be picking one of these to focus on each week, making the drink multiple times and writing up a blog post about what I can discover both in written form, and in the glass.