How did we drink in 2022? All signs point to “a little less” as zero-proof drink sales hit a record $331 million, according to Nielsen. But it wasn’t an altogether chaste year. As predicted, Martinis remained ascendant, as did tequila and cocktail-caviar pairings. TikTok’s influence on drinking culture was inescapable. The corn kid inspired bar videos (but fewer corn cocktails than we would have hoped). Gen Z learned the specs for a Negroni Sbagliato, and we dirtied up any drink we could get our hands on.
Here's our rundown of the top drink trends of 2022.
From Shirley Temples to Sodas, Make It Dirty
From whence the Dirty Shirley came, we can’t be sure, but the vodka-spiked Shirley Temple hit peak zeitgeist in summer 2022, even if no one really wanted to drink it. However, “dirty sodas”—booze-free concoctions that blend soda, syrups, juices, and cream—may be here to stay (though you probably won’t catch us drinking Diet Dr Pepper, lime juice, and coffee creamer). Through the power of TikTok, dirty sodas have risen from a Mormon subculture sipper to a mainstream category that culminated in 2022 with Lindsay Lohan and Pepsi hocking Pilk in holiday commercials.
And Even Dirtier If It’s a Martini
A resurgence in Martini drinking showed no signs of abating over the past year, nor did bartenders’ quest to make the dirtiest Martini of them all. The Dirty South Martini at CO/OP Community Table + Bar in Huntsville, Alabama gets a hit of pickled okra brine and a pimento cheese-stuffed garnish of pickled okra. At Genever in Los Angeles, beverage director Kelso Norris spikes her Datu Puti Martini with garlic powder, fish sauce, and a full ounce of its namesake Filipino cane vinegar.
In New York City, Shinji head of operations Philip Dizard infuses vodka with freeze-dried olives and adds a touch of white soy for his Dirtiest Martini, which he garnishes with a gold powder- and algae-infused olive oil and a side of olive-Szechuan peppercorn powder. Thanks to Channing Centeno at Bonnie’s in Brooklyn, New York, the MSG Martini has grown in visibility, even popping up in Times Square, where bartenders at Legasea Bar & Grill are adding a dash of MSG to a Martini topped with truffle-and-caviar-stuffed olives.
A Cocktail with a Side of Caviar
In a briny burst of post-pandemic hedonism, caviar sales surged this year—abetted by caviar bar openings in Vegas, San Francisco, Austin, and New York, plus cocktail bars selling bumps, bites, and roe-infused cocktails.
In New York, Undercote serves the biggest bumps in town, while Martiny’s offers generous mounds of caviar served atop wooden mannequin hands and Verōnika’s Reserve Martini comes with a caviar-topped potato. The Vesper Club in Nashville pairs caviar with its all-Martini tasting menu, while at Chicago’s Kumiko, you can add an $80 ounce of golden kaluga to any dish. San Diego’s Butterscotch Den opened with 50-50 freezer Martinis, and optional $3 bumps of caviar. We’ll take 10.
Is Vodka Dead?
“The vodka drinker is gone,” says Laura Unterberg, owner of Nashville hotspot The Fox Bar. “They don’t exist.”
Unterberg credits less-juniper-forward, new-world gins for converting former vodka drinkers, but says high-end agave spirits are her fastest growing category. “It used to be, if you’re basic, you wanted a Moscow Mule, but that never gets called anymore,” she says. That tracks with industry data showing that tequila and mezcal outsold American whiskey in 2022 and are set to outperform vodka next year, thanks in large part to celebrity brands like Casamigos, Teremana, and 818.
Though vodkas’ popularity may be under threat, the category is at least getting more interesting with new releases of vodkas distilled from olives, apples, and, yes, even agave.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
The Disco Aesthetic
The 1970s weren’t exactly the heyday of the craft cocktail movement in the U.S., but, this year, revelers got down with disco music, dance floors, and drinks.
For the Record in San Francisco debuted with flower-power wallpaper and cocktails named after Stevie Wonder and Donna Summer songs. Cleveland’s Good Night John Boy is slinging groovy vibes and drinks dubbed Disco Punch and Dirty Ashtray, in addition to serving five different formats of Miller High Life. Even wine bars like Oakland’s Bar Slug have installed DJ booths and disco balls. New York alone saw the opening of disco-inspired Daphne, Ciao Ciao Disco, and Wiggle Room, plus Discolo, where bartender Matt Reysen is pouring updated Blue Hawaiis and Cuba Libres under pulsing lights.
Jell-O Shots Graduate from College
The Jell-O shot 2.0 era has finally arrived. Reignited a few years ago by the Solid Wiggles crew, this year saw bars across the country making wobbly, wonderful, and complex edible cocktails.
Take the Champagne Jello Shot at Nashville’s White Limozeen, for which bartender Demi Natoli combines bubbles, white wine, pisco, grapefruit juice, sugar, cinnamon, Pernod, and tartaric acid before setting the mixture with gelatin and edible glitter. At Milady’s in New York City, Julie Reiner’s team presents house “jigglers” (in Blue Hawaiian and Pink Pomegranate Paloma flavors) on clam shells set atop ice.
In Washington, D.C., Silver Lyan presents guests with shareable Jello Fruit Baskets, complete with pineapple clairin Coladas and passion fruit Daiquiris gelatinized and served inside citrus peels. Taking a cue from the boba Jell-O shots at Oma’s Hideaway in Portland, Oregon, Disney property Oga’s Cantina now serves a solid shot of vodka, sour apple, Sprite, and boba balls—not exactly high-end, but definitely mainstream.