With the range of foods that defined the past decade—from poke bowls and avocado toast to hybrid pastries and unicorn desserts—it’s no surprise that the list of beverages that dominated the 2010s are equal parts sensible and wonky. Some of these beverages have already peaked, others are only now gaining momentum. Either way, this list captures what quenched the thirst of most Americans in the past 10 years.
This was a decade of finding half-empty cans of seltzer everywhere. Around the house. On our office desks. In the car. Literally everywhere. Or was that just us? Whether you are Team La Croix or Team Spindrift—or go old school with your bubble and hit those cans of Canada Dry by the dozen—plain bottled water was seen as boring by comparison.
The end of the decade also saw the alcohol industry getting in on the fizzy fun, with the proliferation of booze-filled hard seltzers. Brands like White Claw offer up black cherry, grapefruit, and mango flavors, with a similar alcoholic content to a beer but none of the gluten.
While 2020 is sure to see this beverage persist, our resolution for the new year is simple: actually finish one can before we open the next.
Big enough to share—or make you borderline diabetic if you don’t—these over-the-top milkshakes are a drink, dessert, and Instagrammable moment all packed into one. Defying gravity, spots like Black Tap in New York City offer a menu worth of options ranging from the cheesecake milkshake (with a slice of the sweet stuff balanced on the rim) to the birthday cake milkshake with—you guessed it—a hunk of funfetti cake for garnish.
Rosé All Day
Earning the nickname, “summer water” for how crisp, refreshing, and plainly easy it is to drink, blush-colored wine was to summer what the PSL was to fall. Barbecues, pool parties, beach days, and summer picnics wouldn’t be complete without it. Made from one, or many, of possible grape varietals, rosé gets that perfectly Millennial pink hue by allowing the red grape skin to remain in contact with the juice of the grape (how long depends on the preference of the winemaker and the desired final product). With origins in Greece and France, this chilled wine has been helping Europeans beat the summer heat for hundreds of years. Thankfully, Americans really caught on this past decade and even turned it frozen to create a wine slushie dubbed the frosé.
Cold Brew Coffee
Caffeine addicts rejoiced this decade with the rise of cold brew. Ground coffee is steeped in cold water for about 24 hours to produce a smooth, not-as-bitter and not-so-acidic coffee concentrate. Sold in bottles, cartons, and direct from coffee shops, cold brew gained a loyal following that knows no seasons. (Iced coffee in 10 F temps? You bet). Cold brew is even the fuel behind the poetic prose you are reading right now.
And to compliment that cold brew? A splash of the it milk of the decade: oat. Do you remember where you were during The Great Oat Milk Shortage of 2018?
The Over-the-Top Bloody Mary
Next up in the game, Is it a Beverage or is it a Meal? comes this decade’s answer to a bloody Mary. With 10,000 calories balanced precariously on the rim of a drink, we’re hard-pressed to call these crazy bloodies a mere cocktail. So long, farewell to the single celery stick of days past; goodbye to the olive and lemon wedge bobbing along in the glass. The bloody Marys of the 2010s come with burgers, French fry cones, ribs, entire claws of lobster, and mini grilled cheese sandwiches. Sometimes, all at once.
Craft beer in general was a huge hit this decade with countless small, artisanal breweries making a variety of suds. But it was Indian pale ales (IPAs) which got most of the spotlight this decade. Beermakers amp up the hops in the brewing process to create a crisp, bitter, and, well, hoppy finish.
On the eve of the next decade, we're noticing a surge of sour and fruitier beers hitting the shelves and bar room taps, eeking out their space among all those hop-forward IPAs.
Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL)
The autumnal battle cry of most people we know, this drink is considered by many to be the first real sign of fall. Even more so than say, any actual leaves changing color. As iconic to the season as decorative gourds, hay rides, corn mazes, and carved-pumpkin moments, the PSL is an entire mood. But just be sure to tag the selfies of you drinking it #PSLSeason—or fall never really happened.
Naturally full of electrolytes and therefore supercharged hydration, coconut water hit shelves earlier this decade. And now, there are dozens of brands on the market. While it is no substitute for sitting on a tropical beach sipping the stuff directly from a whole fresh coconut, it’s a start. And one of the few healthy-ish bev options that made our 2010s list.
Natural. Biodynamic. All of these are just the wine world’s way of saying organic and not-so-much-messed-with wine. Natural wines began popping up more frequently on menus and in wine shops this decade and we hope to see more of it. When done right, biodynamic wines tend to be a little funky, sometimes cloudily unfiltered, and frankly, more interesting tasting than their refined, traditional counterparts. Natural wines strive to bring the drinker a little closer to the terroir of the region where the grapes were grown and put a bit more personality in your glass. If this method of production is still uncharted territory for you, we’ve got a round-up of some of our favorites to try as you toast to the new decade ahead.
A funky little bev with a history over 2,000 years old, it is made by letting a bacterial scoby bob around in some lightly sweetened tea until it ferments to a natural fizz. Kombucha is loaded with probiotics, and is therefore the choice bev of the gut-health conscious. Buy it by the bottle, or on draft at some health food stores, and brace yourself to taste the funk (in a good way) and enjoy the healthy-gut-glory of this ancient drink.