Company Updates

Bottoms Up — Instacart Predicts the ‘Drink of the Summer’ 🍹



May 24, 2022

Summer is nearly here and that’s something we’d like to raise a glass to. Without a doubt, refreshing alcoholic beverages and delicious mocktails play a big role when it comes to summertime fun. According to Instacart purchase data, as the weather heats up, so do alcoholic beverage sales… 

Further, per a recent Instacart survey of more than 2,000 Americans ages 21+ conducted online by The Harris Poll, nearly 2 in 3 alcohol consumers (65%) agree they drink more alcoholic beverages when the weather is nice, and 66% agree they like to try new types of alcoholic drinks more in the summer compared to any other season. So whether you plan to relax on the beach, kick back in your own yard, or live it up somewhere in the middle, we’re here to point you to the buzziest drinks to enjoy this summer. Let’s start sipping!

The Drink of Summers Past: Hard Seltzer  

Over the past three years, hard seltzers have skyrocketed in popularity, consistently maintaining the title of “top growing beverage” during the summertime months according to Instacart purchase data. To get a sense of what drinks people will purchase en masse this upcoming season, we examined the top-trending drinks from last summer and the past few months to see if there are any new summertime drink contenders bubbling up. Here’s the (hard) tea:

Drinks of Summer

The ‘Drink of the Summer’: Canned Cocktails

While hard seltzers have continued to show momentum as the top growing drink category each summer and have undoubtedly become a summer drink mainstay, our survey found that roughly 1 in 3 alcohol consumers say they are officially over hard seltzers (36%). 

In fact, we believe another canned beverage frontrunner could gain enough traction to become this year’s ‘drink of the summer.’ Enter canned cocktails, an ideal drink option that offers both the taste of a freshly made cocktail and the convenience of grabbing a cool one from your fridge.

From canned margaritas and gin & tonics to whiskey sours and mai tais, these deliciously refreshing mixed drinks ranked #4 on last summer’s top growing drinks list and have grown more than 100% in sales over the past year. As we dip into summer, we expect this upward momentum to continue as new canned cocktail concoctions enter the market giving consumers more options to enjoy. 

“Based upon what we’re seeing in Instacart’s digital aisles, we predict this year’s ‘drink of the summer’ will be canned cocktails. With summertime travel reaching new heights this year, whether folks are adventuring far from home or gathering in a loved one’s backyard, we believe convenience, price point, and new, buzzy options will be key factors when deciding which beverages to purchase. The number of canned cocktail options available on the Instacart platform has increased by more than 60% from summer 2020 to summer 2021, showing just how enthusiastic consumers are about this particularly easy and breezy summer bevvie option. Many consumers appear to be ready for a fresh new summer staple, and we believe that canned cocktails will be stocked in coolers everywhere this summer.”  – Laurentia Romaniuk, Instacart’s Trends Expert 

Besides canned cocktails, here are the top-trending beverages we expect to see in consumers’ carts this summer:

  1. Light lager beer
  2. Vodka 
  3. Non-alcoholic beer 

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation 

While hard seltzers experienced the most sales growth in the beverage category last summer, chardonnay was the top-selling drink overall. Perhaps not surprisingly, the demographics purchasing these two beverage types couldn’t be more different. Chardonnay is more popular amongst older generations, while hard seltzers are the clear winner for Gen Z and Millennials. In looking at the data, hard seltzers account for more than 14% of alcohol purchased by Gen Z on the platform, and chardonnay accounts for more than 20% of alcohol purchased by Traditionalists or the Silent Generation. No two alcohol types on Instacart’s platform have a higher disparity between generations than hard seltzers and chardonnay:

Hard Seltzers versus Chardonnay

Taking this generational divide a step further, we decided to break down the cart purchases for hard seltzer and chardonnay buyers. We’ll let these purchases speak for themselves… 

Hard Seltzers versus Chardonnay

“Based on these related cart purchases, the hard seltzer buyer seems to be optimizing for group party settings, outdoor hangs, and longer nights. On the other hand, chardonnay drinkers appear to be more established foodies with households and pets,” said Romaniuk. “This dichotomy shows us that something as simple as alcohol preferences can signal the stage someone is at in life, and while every generation enjoys the gamut of alcoholic beverages at varying degrees, there are still some fascinating generational patterns to be observed.” 

Now that we’ve seen a small glimpse into generational drink preferences, let’s take a look at the alcoholic beverages each generation buys more than any other.

Gen Z: Keeping it light & bubby

While most of Gen Z is still coming of age to drink, we looked at what those between ages 21 and 25 are sipping on. From hard seltzers to lagers, it’s clear the youngest generation prefers to keep their drinks light, refreshing, and bubbly: 

  1. Hard Seltzers
  2. Moscato
  3. Flavored Malt Beverages
  4. Tequila
  5. Mexican Style Lagers

Millennials: ‘Hoppy’ go lucky 

When it comes to drink preferences, Millennials, ages 26 to 41, haven’t changed much. This generation is sipping on hoppy IPAs while all other generations are currently indulging in lighter beers. Similarly, this age group hasn’t strayed from the “rosé all day” mentality, purchasing the highest share of rosé and sparkling wine compared to other generations. Here’s the full breakdown:

  1. India Pale Ale
  2. Rosé
  3. Prosecco
  4. Sparkling Wine
  5. Sparkling Rosé

Gen X: Sticking to the classics

Gen X, ages 42-57, must not be forgotten 😉. This generation is sticking to the classics, ordering light lagers and various wines like sauvignon blanc and pinot noir at higher rates. Here are the drink categories Gen X orders more than any other generation:

  1. Light Lagers
  2. Sauvignon Blanc
  3. Pinot Noir
  4. Malbec
  5. Pilsners

Baby Boomers: American dreamin’

As children of the post-war era, baby boomers, ages 58-76, have a resounding love for vodka and macrobrews. Here are the drink categories that boomers order more of than any other generation:

  1. Vodka
  2. American Style Lager
  3. North American Whiskey
  4. Stouts
  5. Malt Liquors

Traditionalists: Wine not? 

Traditionalists, also known as the silent generation, were born in 1945 and before. These folks love their wine, mainly chardonnay — which accounts for more than 20% of the total alcohol sales Traditionalists purchase on the platform.  

  1. Chardonnay
  2. Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon
  4. Red Blends
  5. Merlot

Hold the Booze

Non-alcoholic beverages, or traditionally alcoholic drinks without the alcohol such as non-alcoholic beer, wine, and especially spirits, have all seen notable increases over the last year growing 35%, 42%, and 203% respectively. With consumers becoming increasingly health-conscious, non-alcoholic drinks are a great way to enjoy your favorite beverages without any unwanted side effects. 

According to our survey, 57% of those who consume alcohol are interested in drinking non-alcoholic beverages this summer, and nearly half (49%) of those who are interested say it’s because they want a healthier replacement for alcoholic drinks. Here are some other top reasons why alcohol consumers are interested in non-alcoholic alternatives:

  • See you later, alcohol. Thirty-four percent want to reduce their alcohol intake.
  • Yum, mocktails. Thirty-three percent report genuinely liking the taste of non-alcoholic beverages. 
  • Hangovers are so yesterday. Forty-four percent note they want to drink alcohol-flavored beverages without the possibility of a hangover or other negative impacts of alcohol.

Non-Alcoholic Beverage Growth

Bill Shufelt, CEO of Athletic Brewing, the makers of beloved non-alcoholic craft brews, weighs in on the growth of this category:

“Athletic Brewing is unlocking a generational opportunity for occasion growth in the adult beverage category. Where high-performance modern lifestyles had cornered alcohol into a weekends-only beverage, Athletic Brewing brings customers award-winning, non-alcoholic beer any day at any time. We’re seeing demand for this category grow, online and in-store. Especially during the summer season, people look for refreshing ways to rehydrate after getting outside, traveling, and exercising. Partnering with Instacart’s technology, it’s even easier to get Athletic beers to our customers.” 

No matter what you’re sipping on this summer, we hope you’re able to toast with family and friends while soaking up the summer sun. Cheers!

Survey Method:

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Instacart from May 3-5, 2022, among 2,007 adults ages 21+, among whom 1,579 consume alcoholic beverages. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact [email protected]

Adjusted for Growth:

We adjust Instacart growth percentages by the overall growth of total deliveries. Doing so removes the influence of our platform growth so we can focus on the change in consumer behavior.

Generational Favorites Methodology:

We looked at the share of alcohol purchases between May and August 2021 by type for each generation, surfaced the categories where each generation ordered more than any other generation and ordered by share from highest to lowest.

Must be 21+ to purchase alcohol



Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1,100 national, regional, and local retail banners to deliver from more than 80,000 stores across more than 14,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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