We’ve Been Sitting in Our Backyards and Downing a Lot of Margaritas This Summer

Outdoor parties and cocktails in a can are among the trends in Bacardi poll

In Bacardi's summertime survey, 35% of respondents said they like to create their own “outdoor drinking experiences.” Getty Images

Two years ago, shortly after the Howard Hughes Corporation cut the ribbon on Manhattan’s revamped Pier 17, a multi-story dining and entertainment complex built over the water, it announced that its 1.5-acre rooftop would host summer concerts.

But earlier this month, with concerts verboten thanks to Covid-19, management came up with a new use. It’s called The Greens, a grid of 28 “mini lawns,” each 14 feet square and suitably distanced from one another. Parties of up to eight people can reserve a lawn in advance, then lounge on cabana chairs and order from a menu that’s heavy on the cocktails—$16 concoctions including negronis, pineapple coladas and jalapeño-watermelon margaritas. “It’s like your own patch of paradise,” as the reservation page puts it.

So goes yet another millennial hipster-fueled trend in New York City, right? Thing is, this time, New York is actually following a trend that started everywhere else.

It turns out that Americans have already been sipping cocktails on the grass for months now—quite often the grass in their own backyards. This is according to a recent survey of summer imbibing from Bacardi. Paramount among the survey’s findings: While Americans are actually not drinking more cocktails because of the pandemic, they’re drinking them differently—and that means on the patio, Daddy-O.

“Our survey revealed that many people have not changed when they’re enjoying cocktails,” Bacardi’s global vp of strategy insights and analytics Brenda Fiala told Adweek. “What has dramatically shifted is how and where they’ve been enjoying [them, including] making their own cocktails for family and friends in their backyard or park.”

Bacardi talked to 2,000 Americans (plus 3,000 additional consumers in the Germany, France and the U.K.) and found that, not surprisingly, not only have 90% of cocktail drinkers changed their drinking patterns because of the pandemic, a good many of them have simply moved the party to the nearest green space.

Barbecues and picnics led the list of summertime leisure activities, with 38% and 28% (respectively) relaxing that way. A third of respondents explained they were simply no longer comfortable sitting inside a commercial venue to drink. And while 21% said they would visit a bar or restaurant (provided it had outdoor seating), a far bigger number—35%—indicated that they’d prefer to create their own “outdoor drinking experiences.”

As to the cocktails that make up those experiences, Bacardi’s survey found that margaritas are the dominant summer libation, with 36% of respondents saying they’d had them. The runners up were piña coladas (28%) and mojitos (23%.) Lagging far behind were gin fizzes and martinis, along with that once-trendy cocktail of the 1990s, the Cosmopolitan, all notching around 11%. (For the benefit of cynics who conclude that a survey by rum colossus Bacardi was bound to identify rum-based drinks as the most popular, it’s worth noting that Bacardi’s brand portfolio also includes Bombay Sapphire gin and several vodka brands such as Grey Goose.)

Another notable wrinkle in the findings: While many of us might be sipping cocktails in backyards, we’re not putting ourselves through a great deal of trouble to make them. True, 34% of respondents said they were still mixing up the drinks themselves. But 17% said they were picking up cocktails to go from the local bar, and nearly a third (29%) were opting for cocktails in a can.

The industry jargon for this is RTD—ready to drink—and while purists of the shake-and-not-stirred ilk might turn up their noses, canned cocktails get the vote because they’re easy to chill, easy to move, and there’s no fussing with measuring spoons.

@UpperEastRob robert.klara@adweek.com Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.