Words & Deeds

Here is the most popular cocktail in every state. Why so sour, Idaho?

Cocktail recipe: How to make a Gimlet

Kevin Hopper of Capitol Bar in Boise shows how to make a Gimlet, a classic cocktail.
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Kevin Hopper of Capitol Bar in Boise shows how to make a Gimlet, a classic cocktail.

Idahoans like their liquor. The State Liquor Division sold more booze than ever in fiscal year 2017.

But what’s Idaho’s favorite cocktail?

Make it a Whiskey Sour, says Versus Reviews. The product-review website used Google search-interest data to create a new graphic listing the most popular cocktails in each state.

I’m skeptical about using web-search data as the criteria for real-world popularity. (A recent Highspeedinternet.com graphic about the most popular Netflix shows in each state seemed ludicrous. “Star Trek: Discovery” isn’t available on Netflix in the United States. How could anyone call it Oregon’s favorite?)

But cultural popularity contests are fun, even if they’re flawed. Besides, Idaho’s love affair with the Whiskey Sour sounds plausible. After all, Idaho’s biggest-selling booze by volume is Black Velvet. Yo, Canadian Whiskey Sour, anyone?

Kevin Hopper, bar manager at Capitol Bar, 6100 W. State St. in Boise, sells a “good amount” of Whiskey Sours. But Capitol Bar’s focus on craft cocktails might skew things.

“We make them right,” Hopper explains. “We also get a lot of requests for Old Fashioneds. But that’s based on us and our reputation.”

Why would someone Google for a Whiskey Sour? Probably for the recipe. A Whiskey Sour is made with whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup and a garnish. (Hold the cherry, please. Hate ’em.)

Sometimes, home mixologists and bars are known to take shortcuts.

“Some places will just throw lemonade off the gun in there,” Hopper says, laughing. “Seriously, that’s probably what most people are getting when they order one.”

Along with Long Island Iced Tea, the Whiskey Sour was the most popular cocktail in the Versus Review graphic. Each won six states. The trendy Moscow Mule topped five states.

If you include mixed drinks in the cocktail popularity contest — liquor and a single mixer — Hopper has a clear winner at Capitol Bar.

Vodka Soda. Or maybe Vodka Tonic.

“Probably Vodka Soda,” Hopper decides, chuckling. “As sad as that is to say, from my perspective. There’s other stuff out there, guys!”

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