The Flavors of Summer: Refreshing, Fruity, and Crisp Top Summer Drinkers’ Wish List

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Summer is in full swing and while the Harris Poll recently learned that your favorite alcoholic beverage often depends on who you are and where you are, it can also depend on what season it is! According to drinking-age Americans who plan to imbibe this summer, it’s clear they’re looking for something to beat the heat – nearly two thirds (65%) say refreshing is what they’re most likely to look for in an alcohol beverage this summer.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 1,975 U.S. adults aged 21+ (1,356 who drink alcohol at least several times a year, “regular drinkers”, and 1,296 who plan to drink alcohol this summer, “summer drinkers”) surveyed online between June 27 and 29, 2016.

Endless possibilities

Following refreshing, summer drinkers are also looking for fruity (38%), crisp (33%), and sweet (30%) beverages, with about a quarter also aiming for something citrusy (25%), or frozen/slushy (24%).

According to Danelle Kosmal, Vice President of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice, “During the summer, consumers are often looking for specific qualities in their adult beverages to help satisfy their summer thirsts. Beverage alcohol manufacturers have introduced a crop of new products that perfectly align with consumer’s summer drinking preferences. This season, the newest products quickly gaining attention across the country include wine in a can, catering to the ‘on-the-go,’ outdoor summer lifestyle and refreshing hard sodas and seltzers.”

However, flavor preferences do differ by gender. Women are more than twice as likely as men to seek something fruity (51% vs. 24%), and they’re also more likely to prefer:

  • Sweet (38% women vs. 22% men);
  • Citrusy (29% vs. 20%);
  • Frozen/slushy (34% vs. 13%); and/or,
  • Bubbly (20% vs. 11%).

Men, on the other hand, are more likely to desire something natural (23% vs. 14% women) or handcrafted (18% vs. 9%). While less popular in total compared to other characteristics, men also preferred spicy, smoky, and bitter drinks more so than women. 

Cheers to the great outdoors

When it comes to the summer season, there’s no shortage of outdoor places to enjoy a drink. Nearly 6 in 10 regular drinkers (58%) are more likely to “day drink” in the summer than any other season and 8 in 10 (80%) say they enjoy drinking outdoors at this time of year. An overwhelming 9 in 10 adults who plan to drink this summer plan to do so outside in any number of settings, the most popular of which is at a barbeque (65%), followed by a picnic (43%), around a pool (41%), or at the beach (39%). About 3 in 10 will be tipping it back at a patio bar (32%) or sporting event (30%), with around 2 in 10 each looking forward to a beverage at a concert/theater (23%) or a festival – beer related (18%) or not (18%). Even outdoor locations that are fewer in number overall were mentioned, such as  beer gardens (17%) and rooftop bars (14%).

Some locations are particularly popular among Millennials (aged 21-34), including:

  • BBQs (76%);
  • Beaches (56%);
  • Around a pool (56%); and/or,
  • Sporting events (40%).

Summer favorites

Summer drinkers’ favorite alcohol beverage to drink between May and August is beer, followed by spirits/cocktails, while some just want “something fruity” or “anything cold and tasty.”

Among those who drink each type of alcohol at least several times a year, substantial percentages of adults 21+ are more likely to enjoy the following during the summer compared to other times of the year:

  • Flavored malt beverages (47%);
  • Craft beer in a bottle (45%);
  • Hard cider (34%);
  • Hard soda (33%);
  • Hard seltzer (27%); and
  • Rose’ wine (20%; rises to 38% among females 21-34).




This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between June 27 and 29, 2016 among 1,975 U.S. adults aged 21+ (1,356 who drink alcohol at least several times a year, “regular drinkers”, and 1,296 who plan to drink alcohol this summer, “summer drinkers”). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.  Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll. 

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #51, July 13, 2016

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll