100 Years of Liquor Trends
The fascinating journey of cocktails traces its origins to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a time when a spirited wave of experimentation and creativity swept through the world of libations.
As society underwent dynamic shifts, people eagerly delved into the realms of mixology, crafting concoctions that mirrored the evolving tastes and trends of their era. It was a hundred years marked by an intoxicating blend of innovation, cultural dynamism, and a zest for pushing the boundaries of flavor.
Mixologists, both amateur and professional, seized the opportunity to showcase their prowess, leading to the creation of a myriad of recipes that reflected the spirit of their times.
While some cocktails enjoyed fleeting moments of popularity, a select few emerged as the undisputed champions of their respective periods. These iconic libations not only quenched the thirst of their contemporaries but also transcended their time, becoming timeless classics that continue to grace the menus of bars and lounges across the globe.
The early cocktail landscape was a playground of flavors, where the concoction of spirits, liqueurs, and mixers was not merely a process but an art form. It was a time of experimentation, where mixologists became alchemists, transforming simple ingredients into elixirs that captured the zeitgeist.
1920’s Liquor Trends
During the 1920s, the Prohibition era in the United States marked a time when the production, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages were banned. However, this did not eliminate the demand for alcohol; instead, it gave rise to an underground culture of speakeasies and the illicit production and distribution of spirits.
Top 5 Liquor in the 1920’s
- Gin: With its relatively simple production process, gin became a popular choice.
- Whiskey: While production was forced underground, whiskey remained a sought-after spirit.
- Rum: Easier to produce in clandestine operations, rum found its way into the glasses of those seeking a taste of the exotic.
- Brandy: Brandy, with its rich and robust flavor, was another spirit that continued to have a presence during Prohibition.
- Absinthe: Although already banned in some countries due to its perceived hallucinogenic effects, absinthe still found its way into the hands of those seeking a unique and potent drink.
Top 5 Cocktails of the 1920’s
The 1920s saw the rise of cocktails that could mask the flavors of inferior or homemade spirits. Cocktails like the Gin Rickey and Bee’s Knees became popular during this period.
- Gin Rickey: Originating in the early 1900s, the gin rickey stands as a revitalizing highball beverage.
- Singapore Sling: This gin-based cocktail is well-known for its variants, with numerous forms emerging over time.
- Old Fashioned: The history of the Old Fashioned cocktail dates back to the beginning of mixing drinks.
- Bee’s Knees: This cocktail’s sweetness undoubtedly contributed to its allure.
- Highball: The combination of a strong spirit with a generous pour of soda water creates a drink that’s easy to sip.
1930’s Liquor Trends
The 1930s, still within the shadow of Prohibition in the early part of the decade, saw a continuation of the clandestine culture of speakeasies and hidden bars. As the decade progressed, legal reforms and the eventual repeal of Prohibition in 1933 allowed the liquor industry to emerge from the shadows.
Top 5 Liquor in the 1930’s
- Whiskey: With the end of Prohibition, whiskey regained its popularity.
- Gin: The Gin Martini, remained classic choice.
- Rum: The tropical allure of rum cocktails like the Daiquiri found their place in the cocktail scene.
- Brandy: Known for its rich and warming qualities, brandy was enjoyed in various forms.
- Vodka: While vodka’s popularity soared in later decades, it started gaining traction in the 1930s
Top 5 Cocktails of the 1930’s
The 1930s marked a significant period for the cocktail culture, with the end of Prohibition in the early part of the decade bringing a resurgence of creativity in mixology.
- Martini: Featuring gin or vodka and vermouth, the martini was a symbol of elegance and sophistication.
- Old Fashioned: This cocktail made a strong comeback in the 1930’s. Consisting of whiskey, sugar, water, and bitters
- Manhattan: The Manhattan, made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, gained popularity in the 1930’s.
- Daiquiri: A refreshing cocktail featuring rum, lime juice, and simple syrup, The Daiquiri continued to be a favorite.
- Mint Julep: With its roots in the Southern United States, the Mint Julep, made with bourbon, fresh mint, sugar, and water. It became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938
1940’s Liquor Trends
During the 1940s, the popularity of various liquors was influenced by the cultural and historical backdrop of World War II.
Top 5 Liquor in the 1940’s
- Whiskey: Whiskey, particularly bourbon and rye, remained a staple during the 1940s.
- Gin: Gin continued to be a popular spirit, cocktails like the Martini and the Gimlet remained in vogue.
- Rum: The popularity of tropical and tiki-style drinks like the Mai Tai and the Hurricane soared.
- Brandy: Appreciated for its warming qualities, brandy was a favored spirit
- Scotch: Associated with elegance and refinement, Scotch Whisky was enjoyed by those seeking a more sophisticated drinking experience.
Top 5 Cocktails of the 1940’s
As cocktail culture flourished, a wide array of spirits and cocktails became available, reflecting the changing tastes and preferences of society during this dynamic decade.
- Martini: The Martini continued to be a symbol of sophistication, with its simple yet elegant combination of gin or vodka and vermouth.
- Daiquiri: Its refreshing and straightforward profile made it a timeless choice.
- Mai Tai: A tropical concoction of rum, lime juice, and orgeat syrup, gained popularity in the 1940s.
- Sidecar: Its balanced and citrusy profile made it a popular choice.
- Gimlet: A refreshing cocktail that found favor among those who appreciated crisp and citrusy flavors.
1950’s Liquor Trends
The 1950s witnessed the post-war era, marked by economic recovery and a return to normalcy. Cocktail culture continued to evolve, and various liquors gained popularity during this vibrant decade.
Top 5 Liquor in the 1950’s
- Vodka: It started to gain recognition as a versatile spirit that could be used in a variety of cocktails.
- Gin: Gin remained a favorite spirit, and classic gin cocktails like the Martini, Gimlet, and Tom Collins continued to be popular choices.
- Bourbon: Bourbon enjoyed popularity during the 1950s. The Old Fashioned and the Mint Julep, both featuring bourbon.
- Rum: Rum retained its popularity, particularly in tropical and tiki-style cocktails.
- Scotch Whisky: The 1950s saw the rise of cocktails like the Rob Roy and the Rusty Nail, both featuring Scotch.
Top 5 Cocktails of the 1950’s
The 1950s were a pivotal period for cocktail culture, with a blend of timeless classics and innovative creations that would shape the future of the craft.
- Martini: The Martini continued to be a symbol of sophistication.
- Old Fashioned: A popular choice for those who appreciated the simplicity and bold flavors of this drink.
- Margarita: The Margarita gained popularity in the 1950s. Made with tequila, triple sec, and lime juice, it became an iconic cocktail.
- Whiskey Sour: It offered a perfect balance of sweet and sour notes.
- Mai Tai: It was often associated with tiki culture and exotic flavors.
1960’s Liquor Trends
The 1960’s were a dynamic period marked by cultural shifts, social change, and a growing interest in diverse and international flavors.
Top 5 Liquor in the 1960’s
- Vodka: Vodka continued to rise in popularity during the 1960’s. Its versatility made it a key ingredient in various cocktails.
- Scotch Whisky: Single malt Scotch whisky gained recognition for its nuanced flavors.
- Bourbon: Bourbon remained a staple in American drinking culture. With classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and the Mint Julep.
- Gin: Gin continued to be a favorite spirit, and classic gin cocktails such as the Martini, Tom Collins, and Gimlet remained popular choices.
- Rum: The popularity of rum continued, with tropical and tiki-style cocktails like the Piña Colada and the Hurricane gaining traction.
Top 5 Cocktails of the 1960’s
The 1960s marked a vibrant period in cocktail culture, reflecting the changing social dynamics and cultural shifts of the time.
- Martini: Vodka Martinis gained popularity, reflecting a shift in preferences. (The 1960’s saw variations of the Martini, including the Dirty Martini, with the addition of olive brine.)
- Mai Tai: The Mai Tai became synonymous with tiki culture and was a popular choice in the 1960’s.
- Piña Colada: This refreshing and fruity cocktail, made with rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice, gained popularity during the 1960s.
- Bloody Mary: The Bloody Mary became a brunch favorite and a classic choice during the 1960’s.
- Grasshopper: A sweet and creamy cocktail made with crème de menthe, crème de cacao, and cream, became a popular dessert-like drink.
1970’s Liquor Trends
The 1970s continued the trend of diverse and evolving preferences in the world of spirits.
Top 5 Liquor in the 1970’s
- Vodka: Vodka maintained its popularity from the previous decades and continued to be a versatile spirit used in various cocktails.
- Rum: Rum remained a popular choice, especially for tropical and tiki-style cocktails.
- Bourbon: Bourbon continued to be a favorite in American whiskey culture.
- Gin: Gin remained a staple in the cocktail scene. The Gin and Tonic, Tom Collins, and Gin Fizz were popular choices during the 1970s.
- Tequila: Tequila’s popularity grew, and the Margarita became an iconic cocktail.
Top 5 Cocktails of the 1970’s
The 1970s were characterized by a mix of classic cocktails and the emergence of new and sometimes flamboyant creations.
- Margarita: The Margarita gained popularity, with variations like the Frozen Margarita gaining traction.
- Piña Colada: This tropical cocktail, made with rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice, became synonymous with exotic vacations.
- Mai Tai: The Mai Tai continued to be a favorite, often associated with tiki culture.
- White Russian: The White Russian gained popularity and became a signature drink of the era.
- Harvey Wallbanger: The Harvey Wallbanger, featuring vodka, Galliano, and orange juice, became a trendy cocktail during the 1970s.
1980’s Liquor Trends
The 1980s continued the trend of diverse preferences in the world of spirits, reflecting the evolving tastes of the time.
Top 5 Liquor in the 1980’s
- Vodka: Flavored vodkas, like citrus and berry-infused varieties, gained traction.
- Rum: Cocktails like the Hurricane and the Mojito gained popularity during the 1980s.
- Tequila: Tequila continued to be appreciated, the 1980s saw the rise of premium and aged tequilas.
- Gin: Gin remained a staple in classic cocktails like the Martini and the Gin and Tonic. The popularity of gin-based cocktails continued.
- Whiskey: Whiskey and bourbon were favored spirits. Classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and the Whiskey Sour remained popular choices.
Top 5 Cocktails of the 1980’s
The 1980s were marked by a mix of classic cocktails and the emergence of colorful and visually appealing drinks.
- Cosmopolitan: The Cosmopolitan gained immense popularity during the 1980s. It became a symbol of sophistication.
- Margarita: The Margarita continued to be a go-to cocktail, with variations like flavored Margaritas becoming popular in the 1980s.
- Sex on the Beach: This fruity and tropical cocktail, became a trendy and colorful choice.
- Mai Tai: The Mai Tai, with its tropical blend of rum, lime juice, orgeat syrup, and orange liqueur, remained popular during the 1980s.
- Blue Lagoon: The Blue Lagoon, featuring vodka, blue curaçao, and lemonade, was known for its vibrant blue color and refreshing taste.
1990’s Liquor Trends
The 1990s continued the trend of diverse and evolving preferences in the world of spirits.
Top 5 Liquor in the 1990’s
- Vodka: Vodka maintained its popularity and versatility, becoming a key ingredient in a wide range of cocktails.
- Rum: Rum remained a popular choice, particularly for tropical and fruity cocktails.
- Tequila: Tequila saw a surge in popularity, with premium and aged tequilas gaining recognition.
- Gin: Gin remained a classic spirit, and cocktails like the Gin and Tonic and the Martini continued to be popular choices.
- Whiskey: Whiskey and bourbon were favored spirits. Classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and the Whiskey Sour remained timeless options.
Top 5 Cocktails of the 1990’s
The 1990’s saw a mix of classic cocktails maintaining their popularity and the emergence of some trendy and colorful drinks.
- Cosmopolitan: The Cosmopolitan continued its reign from the 1980s into the 1990s. This pink-hued cocktail became an icon of the era.
- Margarita: The Margarita remained a classic choice, and variations like the Frozen Margarita gained popularity in the 1990s.
- Mojito: The Mojito, a refreshing cocktail made with rum, lime juice, sugar, mint, and soda water, gained popularity as a summer favorite.
- Martini Variations: Classic martinis and their variations, including fruity and flavored versions, continued to be enjoyed.
- Long Island Iced Tea: The Long Island Iced Tea, a potent mix of vodka, tequila, rum, gin, was a popular party drink.
2000’s Liquor Trends
The first decade of the 2000s continued the trend of diverse preferences in the world of spirits.
Top 5 Liquor in the 2000’s
- Vodka: Flavored vodkas, such as citrus and fruit-infused varieties, continued to be in demand.
- Rum: Rum remained a popular choice, especially for tropical and fruity cocktails.
- Tequila: Tequila saw a surge in popularity, with premium and aged tequilas becoming more widely appreciated.
- Gin: Gin maintained its presence with craft and artisanal gins starting gaining recognition.
- Whiskey: Classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan remained timeless choices.
Top 5 Cocktails of the 2000’s
The first decade of the 2000s featured a mix of classic cocktails and the rise of new, trendy drinks.
- Cosmopolitan: The Cosmopolitan continued to be a fashionable and widely enjoyed cocktail thanks to Sex in the City.
- Mojito: The Mojito, a refreshing mix of rum, mint, lime juice, sugar, and soda water, gained immense popularity during the 2000s.
- Appletini: The Appletini, made with vodka and apple schnapps, was a trendy choice for those who enjoyed sweet and fruity cocktails.
- Martini Variations: Classic martinis and their variations, including flavored versions like the Espresso Martini.
- Margarita: The Margarita remained a staple, with variations such as the flavored and frozen Margaritas gaining popularity.
2010’s Liquor Trends
The 2010s witnessed a continuation of diverse preferences in the world of spirits, with an increased emphasis on craft and artisanal products.
Top 5 Liquor in the 2010’s
- Craft Gin: The craft gin renaissance gained momentum, with a focus on botanicals and unique flavor profiles.
- Craft and Small-Batch Whiskies: There was a surge in appreciation for craft and small-batch whiskies especially bourbons.
- Tequila: Premium and aged tequilas continued to gain popularity. Tequila-based cocktails became more diverse.
- Craft Vodka: Craft and artisanal vodka varieties, often made from unique ingredients, gained recognition. Flavored vodkas continued to be popular.
- Rum: A resurgence of interest in aged and premium rums occurred. Craft cocktails featuring rum, like the classic Daiquiri, experienced a revival.
Top 5 Cocktails of the 2010’s
The 2010s saw a continued evolution of cocktail culture with a mix of classic favorites and the rise of innovative, craft-inspired concoctions.
- Craft Cocktails: Bartenders were experimenting with unique ingredients and techniques to create bespoke drinks tailored to individual tastes.
- Moscow Mule: This classic cocktail experienced a resurgence in popularity, often served in distinctive copper mugs.
- Aperol Spritz: The Aperol Spritz became a trendy and refreshing choice, especially during warm weather.
- Negroni: The Negroni, a classic Italian cocktail gained a new wave of popularity.
- Mezcal Cocktails: Mezcal-based cocktails gained popularity as drinkers explored the smoky and complex flavors of this Mexican spirit.
2020’s Liquor Trends
We are just getting started with this decade, here are some trends and general preferences that have been emerging.
Top 5 Liquor in the 2020’s
- Home Mixology: With the rise of home bartending during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an increased interest in creating cocktails at home. This led to a surge in the sales of various spirits and cocktail ingredients.
- Craft and Local Spirits: Consumers continued to show a preference for craft and locally produced spirits. There was a growing curiosity about unique and small-batch products.
- Sustainable and Low-ABV Drinks: Sustainability became a focus, with a rise in popularity of low-alcohol or alcohol-free beverages. People started seeking lighter, more sessionable options.
- Ready-to-Drink (RTD) Cocktails: The convenience of ready-to-drink cocktails, both from commercial brands and local producers, gained traction. These pre-mixed cocktails became popular for their ease of consumption.
- Hard Seltzers: The trend of hard seltzers, which gained momentum in the late 2010s, continued into the 2020s. These low-calorie, flavored alcoholic beverages remained popular.
Top 5 Cocktails of the 2020’s
So far the 2020’s have been a call back to many of the classic cocktails.
- Old Fashioned: It is hardly unexpected that the world’s most popular whiskey cocktail topped the list of the top five cocktails.
- Espresso Martini: The Espresso Martini doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
- Manhattan: This traditional whiskey drink is credited as being among the first to use vermouth as a mixer.
- Amaretto Sour: When bartenders began using fresh lemon juice instead of sour mix in the 1980s, it became increasingly popular.
- Boulevardier: A variation on the basic Negroni, the Boulevardier is made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Campari.