We’re Calling It: This Is The Official Drink Of The Summer
Just like with fashion, cocktails go in and out of style. Ordering a Cosmopolitan during Sex and the City's heyday was très chic. But now? Not so much. And the drinks we sipped in summers past are falling to the wayside in favor of new cocktails du jour.
We can look back fondly on the European vibes of 2020's Aperol spritz summer. And we're still feeling the caffeine withdrawals after the espresso martini craze of 2021. Last year, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Southern Living all tapped the Dirty Shirley to be the official drink of the summer. Are we convinced that they were right? Not particularly.
While the moniker of "drink of the summer" is hard to bestow on just one beverage, we did a deep dive to see what people are ordering and what cocktails are on the rise.
First, I asked our team of experts what they predict will be the most popular drink this season. And the answers were about as varied as you'd expect.
Our senior video editor Zach Lennon-Simon opted for a classic glass of rosé: "It's light, can effectively get you drunk, and you won't wake up the next day feeling horrid!"
Sam Caccamise, our social media editor, had a few solid guesses. She said there's a good likelihood that we'll see more derivatives of old favorites like vesper martinis and different types of spritzes (a prediction cosigned by our senior culinary producer Natalie Lobel).
"But more than anything, I think we're going to enter a major negroni summer this year," Caccamise said. And after the viral sbagliato TikTok, the cultural moment that was The White Lotus, and the growing demand for Italian aperitivos, the prospect of a negroni summer isn't out of the realm of possibility.
To further our research, we consulted with people who work behind the bar to see what trends they've noticed as summer approaches.
"I’m seeing a resurgence of floral cocktails and tonic cocktails—lots of rose and lavender showing up on menus again, and a lot more gin and tonics and A LOT more vodka tonics," says Elle Creighton, who works behind the bar at Grotta di Fuoco in Long Beach, New York.
But when Creighton considers what people want to sip in peak summer, spritzes immediately come to her mind. "People like to have water in their drinks now for hydration and more volume so they’re not drinking as fast," she says.
Now it's time to look at the stats. This summer is predicted to be one of the hottest on record. This means, above all else, that drinks need to be cold and refreshing. And while there are few things better than an ice cold martini, five minutes in the summer heat will make one nearly undrinkable. The same goes for any booze-forward drink like the negroni (unless it's in sbagliato form).
One of the most popular criticisms of the negroni is Campari's signature bitterness. According to amaro expert Sother Teague, bitterness is the only one out of the five tastes that's acquired. And while Aperol is significantly sweeter than Campari, some drinkers even find the Aperol spritz to be too bitter.
But one liqueur that's steadily on the rise and is beloved by just about everyone is St. Germain. This French elderflower-based liqueur only entered the market in 2007 and has earned the nickname "bartender's ketchup" for its ability to elevate any cocktail. It's fresh, floral, and touts a 20 percent ABV. And according to Google Trends, it's becoming increasingly popular.
But what's trending even more is a cocktail made with St. Germain: the Hugo Spritz. Google Trends reports that the beverage has had a 500 percent jump in search volume, and continues to increase as summer approaches.
The simple, low-alcohol cocktail marries St. Germain, sparkling wine, and soda water. It's traditionally garnished with a mint sprig and lemon slice, but any refreshing garnish works, like cucumber or even fresh celery.
Cold and refreshing? Check. Low ABV? Check. Beloved by anybody who tries it? Check. We can say with confidence that the St. Germain Spritz (a.k.a. the Hugo Spritz) will be the 2023 drink of the summer.
Want to taste it for yourself? Check out our recipe here.
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