A state’s signature drink can mean many things. Maybe the recipe was first dreamed up at an iconic local institution. Maybe it’s the menu item every beloved local sports bar is slinging on game day or maybe the state grows an abundance of one of the key ingredients. A signature drink may be the spiked version of a local beverage favorite or it may be the drink the locals just seem to love the most. And finally, it may be related to a food or beverage or product that a state is choosing to legally recognize as an “official” state food. Whatever the case, every state has a 21-plus favorite.
We looked at regional flavors and ingredients, the local ties of each cocktail and the agriculture of the state (oranges in Florida, anyone?) as well as official state foods to narrow down signature drinks across the country. We also included research from Versus Reviews, which determined which cocktail residents of all 50 states and Washington D.C. searched for the most on Google.
If you’re in Alabama then you should be seeking out a whiskey on the rocks, but it’s not just any whiskey. In 2004, the state designated Clyde May's family recipe for Alabama-style whiskey as “Alabama's Official State Spirit.” According to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the designation was made because it is produced using pure Alabama water and embodies family pride, independence, entrepreneurial drive, innovation, and respect for the tradition and craftsmanship.
Alaska Distillery has recently concocted a vodka made with a secret recipe of smoked salmon caught in the Gulf of Alaska, which has quickly gained steam as the state’s most popular cocktail according to various local publications. Giant king salmon is the state’s official fish and Alaska harvests more than 100 million salmon a year.
The tequila sunrise — a concoction of tequila, orange juice and grenadine — goes all the way back to the late 1930s when the first one was poured at the Arizona Biltmore hotel. You can still visit this historic hotel and you can still get an original tequila sunrise.
Cynthiana grape, or “Vitis aestivalis,” is the official grape of Arkansas. According to Mount Bethel Winery in Arkansas, Cynthiana grapes produce a rich, full-bodied red wine with a dry character similar in style to cabernet sauvignon but with more spice.
California is well-known for being one of America’s most treasured wine regions. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, 4,282 tons of grapes were harvested in 2018. The California Crush Report also pointed out that the majority of grapes that were harvested were red wine grapes. Red wine is tasty on its own, but is also incredibly versatile when included in a spritzer or sangria.
The Colorado Distillers Guild and Colorado Bartenders Guild, along with a couple other organizations, held a statewide competition to determine the unofficial state drink. The winner? The tree line — a cocktail created by Marnie Ward, a bar manager and mixologist, that is intended to taste like sunshine, cherries and whiskey — all staples of Colorado. It’s made with cherries, whiskey, herbal liqueur, lemon juice and simple syrup.
Connecticut’s signature cocktail has to be the Moscow mule, which is made with ginger beer, lime and vodka. The man responsible for popularizing vodka in the U.S., John G. Martin, was the president of Hartford-based Heublein Inc., a producer of foods, wines and bottled cocktails that acquired the rights to distribute what was then a struggling company, Smirnoff. To promote its product, the company launched a promotional campaign for the Moscow Mule.
The state’s most popular drink is a Delaware beach favorite — the orange crush. The signature cocktail originated at The Starboard restaurant at Dewey Beach, which makes its famed version with Smirnoff orange vodka, triple sec, Sprite or soda water and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Many locals believe it’s not a true orange crush if it’s made with bottled orange juice — fresh is always the way to go.
More than 90% of America’s orange juice comes from Florida oranges, so chances are if you are drinking a mimosa in the U.S. you can thank Florida for the fizzy delight. Orange juice is also Florida’s official state beverage. Mimosas go well with all the iconic breakfast foods and are simple to make with a base of just orange juice and Champagne, or a sparkling white wine, and you can customize them endlessly. They are bright and effervescent and the best part of the best bottomless brunches in America.
Georgia’s signature drink was named after the protagonist of Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel “Gone with the Wind,” which is a story set in Georgia about a Southern belle amidst the American Civil War. The “Scarlet O’Hara” cocktail was created the same year and skyrocketed in popularity after the movie and musical were made. The drink is made with Southern Comfort, cranberry juice and a dash of lime juice.
According to Versus Reviews, Hawaii’s signature cocktail is a mai tai, which is not surprising at all considering it’s an iconic cocktail of the tiki movement. A true Hawaiian mai tai with the flavors of orange, lime and rum is all you need while soaking in Hawaii’s gorgeous beaches.
According to Idaho’s Secretary of State’s office, the state’s unique environment provides nearly perfect growing conditions for potatoes, making them Iowa’s official state vegetable. The state produces 13 billion pounds of potatoes annually. And what better way to showcase potato vodka than with a simple splash of soda?
Illinois’ signature drink might not be everyone’s favorite, but it can be considered a cult liquor in the Midwestern state. The bitter liquor, Malort, was first introduced in the 1930s and produced by Chicago's Carl Jeppson Company until it was sold to CH Distillery of Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood in 2018. The Swedish seed, a cocktail made with Malort, root liqueur, lemon juice, brown sugar honey syrup and bitters, turns this love-to-hate liquor into a cocktail.
Indiana's “unofficial” signature cocktail is the result of a contest held by the Indiana State Museum in 2015. The cocktail, named "Hoosier Heritage," is made with Knob Creek rye whiskey in honor of Abraham Lincoln, who moved to Indiana in 1816 from Knob Creek Farm. Jason Foust, the winner of the big prize, mixes in maple syrup, lemon juice and apple cider to create the concoction.
There might be some debate on what Iowans consider their signature cocktail, but the frozen blue water margarita (or frozen blue “lagoon” margarita) is a contender. The drink is inspired by West Okoboji Lake, one of the world’s natural blue lakes. It can be made with a mix of tequila, lemon-lime soda, frozen limeade concentrate and a dash of Blue Curacao.
In 2019, the state of Kansas designated Vignoles wine grapes as its official white wine grapes. It’s only fitting Kansas’ signature cocktail consists of the floral aroma and fruity flavors of the white wine with notes of citrus, pineapple and apricot. To make it a spritzer, just add some club soda and lime.
It may come as no surprise that Kentucky favors the mint julep, which is an iconic Kentucky Derby Cocktail. The bourbon-based drink with sugar, water, shaved ice and fresh mint is as Southern as it gets.
Louisiana’s signature cocktail has to be the hurricane, which has a fascinating origin story. It’s a simple mix of rum, passion fruit and lemon juice. You can find a popular version at Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans’ French Quarter. We would be remiss to also not mention the Sazerac, a New Orleans classic which was named the city’s official cocktail.
Maine’s drink of choice has an extra boost with coffee and brandy. Coffee-flavored brandy became a fisherman favorite in downeast Maine during the late 1960s when they’d add a splash of Allen’s to their coffee. Allen’s is a naturally flavored coffee brandy made from the extract of imported coffee beans. Allen's Coffee Flavored Brandy is now the most popular spirit in Maine and can be found in local neighborhood pubs, upscale Portland cocktail bars and in homes. According to the company, “Allen's and milk” is a concoction widely known as the sombrero, and it’s a true staple of every Maine bartender's repertoire.
In Maryland, the Preakness Stakes is a big deal — the thoroughbred horse race is held on the third Saturday in May every year. And the race has an official drink, which quickly became a Maryland staple: the black-eyed Susan. It’s named after the state flower and the flavors of orange, pineapple juice, vodka and rum are supposed to represent the Maryland countryside in the peak of summer.
The official state fruit of Massachusetts is small but mighty: cranberries. Cranberry juice is also the official state juice, so the signature drink involves these puckery little gems. To make the Cape Codder, mix vodka with cranberry juice and a lime wedge for garnish. A sweet addition is it is aptly named after the famous peninsula in Massachusetts.
The Last Word dates all the way back to 1916 when it was mixed up at the Detroit Athletic Club. The club itself found evidence of its origins. The cocktail is equal parts gin, fresh squeezed lime juice, Green Chartreuse and Luxardo Maraschino, which is a cherry liqueur. The drink is then shaken with ice.
It’s quite possible Minnesota’s signature drink was a product of the prohibition era. The “Bootleg” is a cocktail made specifically from the Bootleg mix found only at a country club in Wayzata, Minnesota. But some Midwestern bloggers have taken the liberty to come up with a recipe so anyone can whip up their own Bootleg cocktail. The drink has notes of tart lime and sweet herbal flavors and can be made with gin, vodka or rum. Rumor has it that Minnesota native F. Scott Fitzgerald was a fan of the drink.
It’s hard to pin down the origins of the Mississippi mud concept of chocolatey decadence. Even if it didn’t originate in the state, it’s one of the most famous Mississippi-named things apart from the river. A Mississippi mud martini is a combination of RumChata liqueur, vodka, Kahlua and chocolate syrup. The Mississippi visitors bureau suggests saving this rich cocktail for winter imbibing.
There’s some debate about where the horsefeather, which is a whiskey topped with ginger beer and a squeeze of lemon, originated, but Kansas City, Missouri, and Lawrence, Kansas, have the strongest claims.
Montana’s signature drink wasn’t always known as the Boilermaker. The “Sean O’Farrell” was popular with miners coming off their shift. This drink, which involves dropping a shot of whiskey into a pint of beer, has been around since the 1890s.
Nebraska’s most popular drink is red beer, made by combining beer and tomato juice. It's supposedly a great hangover cure and likely an ideal addition to any brunch menu.
Though attempts to make Picon punch the official drink of Nevada have failed, it is notable to the culture of Nevada and therefore is the state’s signature drink. The concoction is made from Amer Picon liqueur, soda water, grenadine, a splash of lemon and a bit of brandy, and is a favorite in Basque culture. There is a high concentration of Basque people that have left quite a cultural mark on Northern Nevada.
There are few things more New England than foliage and apple cider, the latter of which happens to be New Hampshire’s official state beverage. Hard apple cider can easily slide in as the state’s signature drink.
How does sipping on a pina colada on a New Jersey boardwalk in the summertime sound? Pina coladas were the most searched drink in the state, based on Versus Reviews’ findings.
New Mexico’s signature drink is a Chimayó cocktail made with tequila, creme de cassis, apple cider and fresh apples. New Mexico harvests quite a few apples annually and the tequila is a nod to the state’s southern neighbor.
It’s said that the Manhattan originated at the Manhattan Club in New York back in the 1880s. And despite its long history, the drink is still widely enjoyed and celebrated in New York bars. The classic cocktail is made with rye whiskey, vermouth and orange bitters.
Legend has it a generous pour of this drink helped determine where North Carolina’s capital would be. The cherry bounce, therefore, has long been considered Raleigh’s and the state’s signature drink. A cherry bounce is cherry vodka, cranberry juice, and lime juice shaken and served topped with club soda.
North Dakota’s official state fruit is the chokecherry, and although they tend to be bitter, chokecherries are often used in jams, jellies and even wines. You can incorporate a chokecherry into a cocktail in many ways, but the most simple might be to infuse it with sugar into vodka or bourbon and substitute it for a different type of cherry, thus bringing to life the Chokecherry bounce.
Because the official state juice of Ohio is tomato juice, a bloody Mary is an obvious choice as the state’s signature drink. With endless combinations (the only staples are vodka, tomato juice and a mix) you can easily customize the drink to your taste and maybe that includes a little spice from one of the world’s hottest hot sauces.
Oklahoma has an official state meal and in that state meal is strawberries. And since milk is the official state drink, a boozy strawberry milkshake makes for the perfect Oklahoma signature drink. Strawberry milkshakes are one of those delightful childhood treats you may have forgotten about. The most complimentary liquor to pair with a strawberry milkshake is either a vanilla or strawberry flavored vodka.
According to Travel Portland, the Oregon city has become one of America’s most vibrant destinations for cocktails. One of the region’s most popular drinks is the Negroni, which is a classic combination of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. In fact, the Negroni is so popular that there’s an entire week in Portland dedicated to the cocktail.
Pennsylvania produces the most craft beer of any state in America. Craft beers are undoubtedly the state’s signature drink, and locals and tourists alike have over 300 craft breweries to choose from.
Rhode Island’s official state beverage is coffee milk, which is similar to chocolate milk but made instead with coffee syrup — namely, Autocrat coffee syrup. The flavors naturally found a spot at Rhode Island bars and cocktail lounges, and in home kitchens statewide. To make a coffee milk cocktail, mix together some rum, Autocrat coffee syrup, milk and fresh nutmeg.
If there’s anything that screams South Carolina, it’s sweet tea — the state’s official hospitality drink. And South Carolina’s signature cocktail perfectly marries southern charm with booze in its “sweet tea vodka.” Firefly Distillery on Wadmalaw Island created the first of its kind and recommends mixing it with lemonade or water for a true southern sweet tea cocktail.
There’s not much to a South Dakota martini, but it is certainly outside of the ordinary. First, you need a light draft beer and then you need … a pickle. That’s right, a South Dakota martini is simply a pint of beer with a salty pickle stuck in it. There’s not a lot of backstory here, but local publications insist it’s not a weird thing to order.
Do you know what makes Tennessee whiskey, Tennessee whiskey? The whiskey must be charcoal-filtered prior to aging. And the charcoal used for Tennessee whiskey is from selected sugar maple trees, which are one of the state’s most common trees. To make the classic Jack and Coke using the state’s iconic beverage, you will need a glass of ice, Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 and some good ol’ Coke.
The Paloma blends so many parts of Texas into one glass that it’s an obvious choice for a signature drink. Texas’ official state fruit is the red grapefruit, and grapefruit juice is what gives the Paloma it’s tang. It’s a tequila cocktail that’s not a margarita while still being a nod to Texas’ southern neighbor of Mexico. Add in some lime juice and you’ve got your drink. Serve it up with some of the best tacos in the country or maybe some of the state’s signature chili to really feel authentic.
Utah consumes more Jell-O per capita than any other state and it is also the official state snack. To make Jell-O for a 21-and-over crowd, turn it into a shot by substituting vodka for part of the water on the back-of-the-box recipe and then refrigerating in small cups.
Is there anything more Vermont than maple (other than the stunning fall foliage)? It’s the official state flavor, and Vermont’s signature drink features maple in its purest form. Celebrity chef and Food Network host Bobby Flay makes an Old Vermont with gin, grade B pure maple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice, a dash of bitters, some ice and an orange rind.
This is a traditional Manhattan with a Virginian twist. An Appalachian Manhattan is made using whiskey from Boar Creek, a popular distillery in Virginia, mixed with vermouth, a few dashes of bitters and an orange peel and cherries for garnish.
Because the official state fruit of Washington is an apple, it’s only fitting that the signature cocktail showcases the crisp fruit in the best way. To make the Washington apple cocktail, you’ll need equal parts Canadian whiskey, sour apple schnapps and cranberry juice.
The Rickey is a cocktail drink made with gin or bourbon, freshly squeezed lime and seltzer water. It was originally created in Washington, D.C. at Shoomaker's bar by bartender George Williamson in 1883. After the D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild campaigned behind the iconic drink, it was declared the District's official cocktail.
West Virginia’s take on the classic gin and tonic is a local favorite and one of the state’s most popular drinks. In West Virginia, cocktail enthusiasts prefer theirs with aged gin, small-batch tonic, seltzer and lemon oil from a generous sized peel.
In Versus Reviews’ statewide findings, Wisconsin’s drink of choice is an old fashioned. In Wisconsin’s version, however, the cocktail is made with brandy instead of whiskey. The old fashioned lost popularity in most American cities by the ‘70s and ‘80s, but Wisconsin folk remained loyal and still are to this day, as they are with food items like cheese curds and cheese balls.
Between the strong cowboy culture and the local affinity for distilling, whiskey was a natural choice for Wyoming and a classic pairing is the whiskey sour. Wyoming even has a distillery trail of sorts for visitors. It's one of those classic cocktails that if you are hosting a party is good to have the ingredients for. If you're not sure what else you should have handy here's what mixologist have to say about curating a bar cart.
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