The 10 Most Popular Cocktails In The U.S.—According To NielsenIQ Data

Food & Drink

When it comes to their favorite cocktails, drinkers in the U.S. are wasting away in Margaritaville.

The margarita was the best-selling cocktail of 2023, according to exclusive data from NielsenQ (NIQ). This isn’t a surprise, as the tequila-powered frozen (or shaken) concoction that helps us hang on has been the most popular cocktail in the U.S. since 2015, the first year NIQ began tracking this category.

The best-selling cocktails were determined based on data compiled from a representative sample of more than 10,000 restaurants and bars. “It is balanced with approximately 50% independent outlets and 50% chain outlets; 75% of which are dining-centric and 25% drinking-centric,” Andrew Hummel, the director of BevAl Vertical NIQ, told me via email.

Other cocktails in the top 10 for 2023 include classics such as the martini, mojito, old fashioned and Long Island iced tea, as well as the espresso martini, the current “it” cocktail. Another best-selling mixed drink, the spritz, saw the biggest increase in popularity year-over-year.

“The average (median) cocktail price rose to $13 in 2023 up from $12 in 2022,” Hummel noted, but despite that, the quantity of cocktail purchases was up 6% in the final three months of 2023 compared to 2022.

Here is a rundown of the best-selling cocktails in the fourth quarter of 2023. This gives the closest approximation of what drinkers are currently looking for, but there are some seasonal variations inspired by warm-weather drinking habits to consider. For instance, last summer, the mojito occupied the third instead of sixth slot in the ranking, and the Piña Colada was the 10th best-seller before being unseated by the Bellini once the weather cooled.

1. Margarita

Jimmy Buffett can rest easy knowing that Americans are still falling for this iconic cocktail. Meanwhile, the increasing popularity of both tequila and mezcal suggest this drink’s popularity isn’t fizzing out anytime soon.

2. Martini

We don’t know who the next James Bond will be, but sales of Bond’s drink of choice have not been impacted by the iconic actor’s absence from the silver screen. It’s been said before, but let the record show that making a martini with vodka instead of gin, and then shaking it, is not the best way to make a martini—at least according to most connoisseurs.

3. Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule’s appealing mix of vodka, ginger beer and lime juice helped make vodka the most popular spirit in the U.S., so I’m always happy to see it continue to get some love.

4. Espresso Martini

Espresso martini mania has not yet peaked. In 2023, it remained one of the most popular cocktails and also had some of the most significant increases in popularity, rising to occupy this impressive fourth spot in the cocktail rankings.

5. Old Fashioned

Call me old fashioned but it’s hard to beat this mix of whiskey, sugar and bitters. You can choose bourbon or rye depending on preference, and the old fashioned has endless variations.

6. Mojito

Cuba’s classic cocktail is popular all year round but definitely increases in sales during the warmer months in the U.S., as drinkers are drawn to the refreshing drink.

7. Long Island Iced Tea

Its ingredients may seem designed to induce a hangover, but the Long Island Iced Tea—built on an unholy bedrock of vodka, gin, rum and gin—remains a perennial favorite.

8. Spritz

The Aperol spritz has its detractors, but it helped introduce U.S. drinkers to the larger Spritz category—typically consisting of an Amaro-type liqueur with sparking wine and soda water. Now this newcomer to the top 10 cocktail list is rapidly moving up the ranks. Expect to see more of these drinks in 2024.

9. Mimosa

You can’t spell “brunch” without mimosa—well, technically you can, but you get what I mean. This mix of orange juice and sparkling wine is the ruler of all drinking that takes place before noon.

10. Bellini

To make the second-most popular brunch or breakfast cocktail in the U.S., simply replace the orange juice with peach puree. You can also replace the words “orange juice” with “peach puree” in the previous entry and the statement still works, more or less.

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