Hawaii: Mai Tai
Though it was invented by a California restaurateur — either Donn Beach in Hollywood in 1933 or “Trader Vic” Bergeron in Oakland in 1944 — this rum-based cocktail has become the ultimate alcoholic expression of Polynesian-inspired Tiki culture. It may be served around the country, but it has become so identified with tropical R&R that it’s difficult to imagine a bar or restaurant in Hawaii that doesn’t mix up countless examples of it daily.
Idaho: Whiskey sour
The product comparison site Versus Reviews used Google search frequency to determine the most popular cocktail in every state, and Idaho’s was this 19th-century creation, combining whiskey with lemon juice and sugar. The state is certainly known for its love of whiskey. It’s best-selling liquor brand by volume is the Canadian whiskey (actually “whisky”) Black Velvet.
Illinois: Irish whiskey
Irish whiskey is in the ascendance in the U.S. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, sales grew 6.9% in 2020 to a total of $1.13 billion. Whiskey in general is the most-ordered liquor in Chicago, and the city has a substantial Irish-American population (they dye the Chicago River green on St. Patrick’s Day). It’s not surprising, then, that the premier Irish brand, Jameson, is one of Chicago’s two most popular examples of the spirit (the other being Jack Daniel’s).
There’s no argument here: In 2007, the Indiana State Senate declared that the official state beverage was, yes, H2O. Water, read State Resolution 20, “is important to retain the environmental integrity and economic and aesthetic values of Indiana lakes, streams, wetlands, and ground water” and “plays a critical role in in securing a healthy and vibrant Indiana society” — among other reasons to hail it.
Iowa: Tom Collins
Though it has no particular connection with the Hawkeye State — it is probably English in origin, though it has been known in the U.S. since the 1890s — numerous surveys (including a review of Google searches) have shown this highball to be Iowa’s most popular cocktail, especially in the summer months. It’s basically sparkling spiked lemonade — gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda.