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May 23, 2023


European cocktail culture uncovered: The 3 most popular mixed drinks in Italy, Spain, Poland, Czechia and Slovakia

Martin Müller

Content Lead

Last year, we explored the top cocktails in Poland. Now, we're raising the bar and delving into the cocktail culture of other countries in our dataset, including Spain, Italy, Czechia, and Slovakia, with Poland remaining in the mix for comparison. We'll use numerical distribution to gauge the popularity of mixed drinks and provide insightful analysis of the data, as well as compare capital cities to their respective national averages.

The data come from our Outlet Census Live big data product. If you want to access more countries or see it in bigger details, try the free demo.

Let’s start with the 3 most popular cocktails for each of our 5 covered countries: 

Right off the bat, we notice some disparities. Let's delve into these differences, uncovering the stories and reasons behind them.

Spain: The Mediterranean cocktail retreat

Spain has a penchant for rum-based cocktails, likely due to its extensive trade and cultural ties with the Caribbean and Latin American countries, where rum is primarily produced. Established trade networks facilitate the availability and affordability of rum in Spain compared to other spirits. Additionally, the influence of immigration plays a role, with nearly 2.5 million Latin American immigrants and over 600,000 Central American or Caribbean residents living in Spain as of 2021.

Spain's climate, particularly in the south, can be quite hot. Refreshing and fruity rum-based cocktails, such as Mojitos and Piña Coladas, provide the perfect balance to combat sweltering heat and spicy dishes like chorizo or hot peppers. Furthermore, rum-based cocktails are often associated with lively parties, rather than the sophistication of whiskey or gin-based classics. The Spanish, known for their vibrant festivities, naturally gravitate toward these spirited concoctions.

Italy: The gin country

Unsurprisingly, the Negroni, which hails from Italy and claims a close third place, features quintessential Italian ingredients like Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin, reflecting the nation's rich mixology history and traditions.

An intriguing pattern emerges with the Gin and Tonic, another gin-based cocktail in Italy's top three. Although gin is often associated with Britain, Italy ranks as the world's 10th largest gin consumer, with 0.14 liters per capita per year as of 2018. Gin Magazine reports around 300 gin brands were in operation in Italy in 2020. Some even challenge gin's Dutch origins, citing 9th and 11th-century writings that mention juniper-based drink production in Italy.

Also, try pairing the crisp taste of Gin tonic with seafood dishes (which are consumed a lot in Italy). Or the bittersweet tones of Negroni with famous Italian cheeses and cured meats. Absolute delicacy. And have you heard about the aperitivo culture? Socializing over drinks and small bites is very popular in Italy and all these three most favored cocktails are light, refreshing, and easy to sip while mingling.

Interestingly, the famous Italian drink Aperol Spritz from Venetia ended up in 11th place despite the fact it is a leader in Czechia and Slovakia and a bronze medal winner in Poland. And the famous Mojito (winner in Spain, silver medal in Poland and Slovakia) snatched 4th place with a solid 18%, meaning it is still quite popular in Italy, despite not making it into the top 3.

Poland: The cocktail junction

Poland serves as Europe's cocktail crossroad, with its top three cocktails mirroring the leading mixed drinks in Spain (Mojito tied very closely with Margarita), Italy (Margarita), and both the Czech Republic and Slovakia (Aperol Spritz). This could be a mere coincidence or a reflection of the globalized on-trade landscape. Explore our article on the most popular alcohol brands in Europe for more insight.

How globalized is the beverage industry? Most popular brands comparison

In our previous article about Poland, we've uncovered some interesting regional differences. Namely, the fact that Margarita is the leader in almost all regions, but it is much stronger in the northern part of the country (50.86% numeric distribution) rather than in the south (38.67% numeric distribution). There is also one region different from the others:  Dolnośląskie, where Tequila Sunrise reigns supreme. If you want to learn more about Poland's cocktail scene, check out the original article. 

The 5 most popular cocktails in Poland

Czechia: The rum creek

Czechs love their rum, as evidenced by 2 out of their top 3 cocktails featuring this spirit. The globally popular Cuba Libre owes its success in the Czech Republic to its simple preparation, affordability, and historical connections to communist-led Cuba during the previous regime.

Aperol Spritz, a table leader, has gained a strong foothold across Europe in recent years. Its popularity in the Czech Republic may stem from Italy, the drink's origin which is a favored tourist destination for Czechs, consistently holding second place (occasionally surpassed by Slovakia) after Croatia. With just Aperol, Prosecco, and soda water, it is also easy to make.

Grog, first introduced in the 18th century by the British Royal Navy (the inventor wore a coat made of a fabric called “grogram” and had a nickname Old Grog - hence the name), initially comprised water, dark rum, lemon juice, and cinnamon. The Caribbean version includes light rum, fruit juices, cinnamon, and honey. 

However, Czechs opt for a simpler approach: In a typical Czech pub, grog is simply rum mixed with hot water. If you're lucky, the barman will throw in a sugar cube. It is a very cheap, common-man cocktail, and therefore quite popular across the country excluding Prague - more on that later.

Margarita (the winner in Poland and Italy and silver - almost gold - medal winner in Spain) ended up 7th in Czechia. Another popular drink Mojito fared better and snatched up 5th place. 

Slovakia: Land of the strong leaders

While Slovaks may not visit Italy as frequently as Czechs, they do travel extensively to Czechia, which often vies for the top spot with Croatia as a favored destination. It's plausible that the Aperol Spritz trend has made its way to Slovakia via Czechia. As for the Mojito and Gin and Tonic, their popularity can be attributed to their widespread appeal and ease of preparation, making them universally cherished.

Slovakia is unique in the dominance of Aperol Spritz on the market. Its numeric distribution is over 60% whereas leaders in other countries hover around the 40% mark. Mojito (2nd place) holds around 50% which is also quite unusual. All in all, we can say that Slovakia's on-trade channel is much more concentrated than the other countries and the top cocktails are crushing the market with their widespread presence.

And what about Margarita? In Slovakia, it ended up 6th, very close to the 5th place held by Piňa Colada. 

The Capital question

In our previous research on Poland, we concluded that there are no significant differences between the popularity of cocktails in the capital and regions. But what about other countries? Turns out, the case is not the same everywhere. Below you can see the first 3 places for capital cities of our 5 countries: Rome, Madrid, Warsaw, Bratislava and Prague.

In Rome (Italy) and Madrid (Spain) we see the same winners, just with the order swapped. Warsaw (Poland) copies Poland's ladder. In Bratislava (Slovakia), 3rd place is different with Cuba Libre overtaking Gin Tonic. And in Prague (Czechia), Grog fell to the 5th position, being replaced by gin tonic. “Ah, Praguers and their fancy drinks,” a lot of Czechs might say upon seeing this change. No place for cheap rum-infused water in the 3300 years old Czech capital. 

Conclusion: Data cocktail for everyone!

So there you have it. Did you know Italians are gin-obsessed or Czechs are in love with centuries-old Royal Navy drink? If you’d like to see the total numbers or uncover more insights about cocktails in various countries, check out our Free Market Report. 

Check out the Free Market Report

Reminder: As the market is constantly evolving, the order of drinks may be different depending on when you are reading this article.


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