Cocktails take a note from childhood favorites

November 16, 2016

Boozy floats and popsicles

Popsicles, root beer floats and milkshakes are all nostalgic childhood treats that span generations. However, with Millennials increasingly seeking out experiences when they visit a bar or restaurant, cocktails are increasingly seeking inspiration from nostalgic elements of the past. Saint Lou’s Assembly in Chicago blends together root beer, bourbon and vanilla ice cream for a boozy root beer float. Fine dining restaurants are also getting in on the boozy float trend, such as at David Burke fabrick in New York City, whose version of the root beer float features hard root beer, bourbon ice cream and a side of salted chocolate chip cookies.

Soda floats are not the only relics from the past getting the cocktail treatment. Popsicles are also becoming key additions to trendy summer cocktails in upscale bars and restaurants. The Loopy Doopy Rooftop bar in New York features flavored popsicles, such as lemongrass, empire apple or blueberry peach, in a cocktail glass and topped off with prosecco.

What we think

These types of nostalgic cocktails demonstrate the blend of simplicity and innovation that is occurring across cocktail menus. Root beer floats and popsicles provide consumers with a memory of simpler times, while the addition of alcohol and innovative flavors allow them to fit today’s dining out scene from a casual and fine dining level. The visual presentations of these types of cocktails also make them perfect for social media sharing.

Women are 1.6 times more likely than men to find fruity flavors appealing in a cocktail.
Mintel’s On-premise Alcohol Trends US 2016 report shows that women are 1.6 times more likely than men to find fruity flavors appealing in a cocktail, which makes them a key target for this trend towards sweet, dessert-like cocktails.

This trend showcases that bars don’t necessarily have to create something that’s never been seen to appeal to Millennials, but instead focus on elements that already have a strong level of comfort with their core diners.


Diana Kelter is a Foodservice Analyst at Mintel, specializing in Mintel Menu Insights. In her role, Diana takes a full-circle approach to foodservice trends by looking at various influences impacting restaurant menus.

Diana Kelter
Diana Kelter

Diana is an Associate Director of Consumer Trends, focusing on North America. Diana joined Mintel as a foodservice analyst before moving to the Trends team. Her role on Trends is a combination of analyzing data and pairing it with global brand monitoring, to determine where macro trends take shape.

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