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Cocktail Favorites of Today’s Millennials

Depending on your age and generation, some cocktails and spirits are just more popular than others. And a lot goes into how and why certain drink trends take off like they sometimes do. But if you talk to the veteran bartenders, mixology specialists, and distillery enthusiasts, they’ll tell you exactly what’s catching everyone’s attention these days. 

Millennials are coming of age right now. Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is aged between 27 and 42 is a millennial. And because they’ve “sewn their oats” already as hard-partying 21-year-olds and are now settling into finding their favorites and spirit staples, they’re a great group to monitor when deciding the most popular drinks. This group of aficionados is beyond the binge drinking years and maturing to find unique and preferential tastes they love best.

Here are some of those millennial favorites. Do you spot some of your faves on this list?

What Millennials Say Are Their Favorites

Based on some of the most recent surveys, along with feedback from bartenders and mixologists who are in the know, these are the growing trends among millennial drinkers. And what they order to relax, celebrate, or toast with can also point to other cocktail industry trends, too. 

Wines & Craft Beer

When asked about which alcohol varieties they prefer to drink the most, roughly 59% of millennials said that wine tops their lists. Second on their list is often craft beer. The wine varieties do vary, but sweet seems to win over millennials more often than dry blends. And when you see the surge in winery tours and wine consumption publicity, it’s easy to see the proof. And then there are craft brews like Guinness and Blue Moon that also tend to be favorites. It’s a sign that millennials love a good story behind some of their top spirit choices, too.

Mainstream Beer Brands

Millennials do still love their beer. And 54% of them surveyed said they prefer to drink beer over any other spirit or cocktail. And among those most favorite brands, you’ll find millennials ordering these domestic and imported brands the most.

  • Budweiser
  • Bud Light
  • Heineken
  • Corona

Jack Daniels

Coming in as the third most popular order for millennials is Jack Daniels. And the most popular Jack Daniels product of them all is the Old No. 7. Millennials find it’s the perfect balance of both smokey and sweet hues, ideal with a splash of Coke or Sprite. And you’d be hard-pressed not to find more than a handful of “Jack and Cokes” in the hands of bar-goers at any given time.

Smirnoff and Tito’s

Vodka cocktails also seem to be among the top five favorites for millennials enjoying a sip with friends. And the two most popular varieties are Smirnoff and Tito’s Vodka. Vodka soda is the most common order, with splashes of soda water and fruit slices. Although Martinis, Mojitos, Bloody Marys, and Cosmopolitans also rank among common millennial drink orders. 

Hard Ciders and Seltzers

It was 2019 when hard ciders and seltzers exploded in popularity. And while the trend has cooled slightly, these beverages continue to be favorites among millennials. Because there is an expectation that these drinks, including White Claw and Angry Orchard, are healthier than heavier brews, they’re often ordered by the health and calorie-conscious.


Millennials, it seems, are also about celebrating. But for them, it doesn’t have to be New Year’s Eve to enjoy a glass of great-tasting champagne. Grabbing a bottle to enjoy with friends, while getting pedicures, and just because, more millennials are sipping this favorite to celebrate everyday life.

Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker is another whisky that’s surging in popularity with millennials. The simplest way to enjoy it is neat or with a few droplets of water to open up the flavor. Millennials are entertaining a lot these days, and Johnnie Walker has a palate-cleansing property and sophistication that pairs well with custom charcuterie boards.

Crown Royal

There’s a legendary status and rich history of generations drinking Crown Royal. Today’s millennials are also returning to their roots, celebrating with this classic spirit. It’s also great for get-togethers and family parties because so many generations can appreciate a sip of Crown Royal.


Jameson is fave among millennials, too. And because it offers a more distinct and unique flavor, it pairs beautifully with Ginger Ale, coffee varieties, lemonade, and even champagne.

Captain Morgan

It turns out millennials love their rums, too. And Captain Morgan is a top seller. Here are a handful of the most popular cocktails featuring the famous “Captain.”

  • Captain and Pineapple Juice
  • Captain Morgan Island Rum Punch
  • Captain’s Passion Punch
  • Captain and Coke
  • Mai Tai
  • Captain and Spiced Cranberry
  • Captain’s Lime Shandy
  • RumChata

Other Drink Trends for 2023 According to Bartenders

To really gauge the movement and cocktail trends of today, bartenders and mixology specialists will tell you there’s more to understanding consumer behavior than just tallying which drinks they order. And today’s millennials are choosing their spirits based on a host of other factors, including those brands that have a great story. It’s why you might recognize so many alcohol advertisements sharing “stories” about those who drink those brands and not just promoting the products directly. Here are other factors the experts on the drink order front lines say motivate millennial drinking behaviors.

Drinking Their Vegetables

Some behind-the-bar experts say they’re seeing a surge in orders for juices, ferments, and veggie infusions with cocktail orders. In a way, it’s as if the millennials are looking to drink their greens. Celery, syrups, and bitters are spicing up today’s cocktails, as are fresh garnishes and ingredients to accompany those classy spirits.

It Has to Look the Part

Another trend among younger drinkers is ordering those drinks that “look the part” or are more dreamy looking than traditional cocktails. Aromas matter more, as does the presentation. So, any drink that can be elevated with foams, gels, vapors, and brilliant garnishes, is going to be a winner. And it’s guaranteed that the better or more impressive a drink looks, the quicker it becomes Instagram-worthy.

Throwback Classics and Favorites

As the millennial population matures, they begin to recognize the value of the past. And there are a host of traditional favorites that are making a comeback as popular drink orders today. Mezcal Old Fashioned, gin margaritas, and negronis are commonplace among the young adult drinkers. And if it was grandpa’s favorite, there’s a good chance it’ll be a new favorite.

Vermouth Is Elevating Cocktails

With so many vermouth flavors and options, winemakers and mixologists are finding new ways to elevate their cocktail blends with delicious vermouth flavors. From the floral and fresh to full depth, you can certainly expect to see more and more orders with vermouth on the cocktail ingredient list.

Tequila Is Still King

Despite all these trendy changes to the millennial favorites list, one staple spirit remains on everyone’s party list. Tequila is still ruling the roost, and people can’t get enough of it. One CGA by NielsenIQ report suggests tequila sales are far outpacing their “brown” spirit competitors, too. 

Drinking Warm Cocktails

Here’s another trend to look for with millennial drinkers. They’re challenging the old notions that the best cocktails have to be served cold. And bartenders are witnessing temperature and dilution trends among the orders they receive. Mixologists are experimenting with temperatures almost as much as they’re dabbling with different ingredients.

It Could Be Rum’s Big Year

There has been a recent American whisky boom, reinforcing the trend for sipping old and savory favorites. But many experts are predicting 2023 is going to be rum’s big year. It’s an affordable and tasty option, perfect for blending all the top cocktail delights. And its versatility as an ingredient for new and emerging blends only solidifies its place behind the bar.

Opting for No and Low

Today’s millennials and Gen Zs alike are more conscious about their consumption. They’re looking for quality, not quantity, and they’re mindful of what and how much they’re drinking. It’s why they’re more often choosing cocktails and beverages with “No” and “Low” attributes in terms of alcohol content.

Better Ingredient Sourcing

Restaurant and hospitality brands are transitioning to more sustainable options, including when sourcing their ingredients. Drinking consumers will be looking for these greener methods, too. Drinks that feature locally-grown ingredients or community-supportive initiatives will earn high points among millennials.

Alternatives for Sugary Ingredients

The best cocktails have an incredible balance of flavor. And when it comes to incorporating sweetness, millennials will be all about sugar alternatives. As bartenders get creative with healthier options, look for emerging new tastes and blends on the menu. And if a particular cocktail offers a reduced sugar characteristic, you can be sure millennials will give it a try.

Cocktail Favorites to Spot in 2023

Be on the lookout for some of these trending cocktails in 2023. And if you haven’t had one yet, you’ll know what to order when you venture out with friends. They’re delightful options for any occasion.

The Singleton Orchard is a true gem

  • 50 ml of The Singleton 12yr
  • 50 ml of pressed apple juice
  • 50 ml of ginger ale
  • Add all the ingredients to a lowball glass. Fill it with ice, stir well, and garnish with candy ginger.

The epic Johnnie Blonde and Lemonade

  • 50 ml of Johnnie Walker Black Label
  • 150 ml of Sepoy & Co Classic Lemonade
  • Add all of these ingredients to a highball glass. Fill the glass with ice, stir well, and garnish it with a slice of fresh lemon.

Paloma for the win

  • 45 ml of Don Julio Blanco
  • 45 ml of pink grapefruit juice
  • 100 ml of soda
  • 10-15 ml of sugar syrup
  • Add all these ingredients to an ice-filled highball glass. Then stir to combine. Add your metal straw and garnish with a thin slice of pink grapefruit.

The ‘Bold’ Fashioned

  • 60 ml of Johnnie Walker Black Label
  • 10 ml of Jaggery syrup
  • 3 quick dashes of aromatic bitters
  • First, combine all the ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass. Second, stir them until the mixing glass is frosted. You’ll notice the liquid level has also increased. Then, strain the contents into a chilled rocks glass over a block of ice. Finally, garnish with a neat twist of orange or grapefruit.

So, if you’re a millennial, did we cover some of your favorite cocktails? Are you maybe inspired to try something new? Regardless of your generation, there’s something for everyone to love on this list of trending cocktails and spirits. Just remember that while these are all popular, your favorite beverage will be unique to you and your preferences. And it’s entirely ok to change your mind, try new things, and fall in love with brilliant new cocktail flavors. 

When you’re ready to start exploring and touring distilleries near you featuring some of your favorite and most iconic spirits, let Distillery Nearby help!


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