Summer's just around the corner, and that means patios, brunch, and summer cocktails. According to Nielson, around 40% of annual alcohol sales occur in the summer, despite summer making up only 2% of the year (at least here in Chicago).
Since we're in the business of local business, we wanted to know more about regional cocktail trends! First, we talked to some of our favorite local mixologists and restaurateurs to get their predictions for the hottest new drink of the summer (hint: don't sleep on Baiju). Next, we took to Google Trends, digging into 10 years of the country’s internet search history to uncover every state’s favorite summer cocktail. (We don't want to brag, but that took, like, literally hundreds of searches!)
There's more on methodology below, but for now, we’ll just say: we hope that if you’re in New Jersey, Oklahoma, or Wisconsin, it causes you to rethink some of the choices you’ve made.
In order to find the favorite summer cocktails, we looked at each state’s cocktail-related Google searches for the last 10 years, with a special focus on April through August. Only cocktails whose peak search volumes fall within those dates were considered for the list, which is why the extremely popular Old Fashioned (which consistently hits peak search volume in November and December) does not make a showing here.
Likewise, the Mojito and Margarita—two cocktails that do usually peak in the spring and summer—were limited from dominating the board in almost every state because we took into account a cocktail’s relative movement in search volume during the key five month period. So if a state is ordering pitchers of spicy margs all year long with only a slight uptick in the warmer months, it could still lose out to something more niche like the Sea Breeze, which takes a powerful hold of some coastal states when it wafts in during beach season. Therefore, the eight states that still registered their Mojito preference and six that went for the Margarita should probably be considered super fans.
Finally, there is the thorny issue of the infamous Sex on the Beach. When we first started looking into our findings, this concoction of vodka and peach schnapps mixed with OJ and cranberry juice, was literally everywhere. It was so popular that we started feeling a bit crazy, especially when an informal office poll revealed that not only had no one on our staff ordered one, but they had never even seen a friend order one in their lives. Further digging revealed that a certain amount of searches ascribed to the provocatively named drink were actually meant for...something else. Still, after a round of more stringent vetting, both Dakotas and West Virginia—three states not known for sandy coastline—made their strong preference known.
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