What to drink in the United States: cocktails, coffee and more

Who I am
Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references


  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Whiskey e bourbon
  • Cocktail
  • Alcohol-free drinks

During your trip to the United States you will have the opportunity to drink in one of the many local pubs or bars that offer you fine wines, beers, whiskeys and bourbons.

Those who want to indulge themselves with something more particular and refined, can focus on the famous cocktail americani.

If you don't like alcohol, however, don't worry, as you can still encounter an avalanche of fizzy drinks, smoothies and coffee. But what are the best alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks that you will happen to taste during your stars and stripes holiday?

Alcoholic beverages

Before delving into the variegated world of American alcohol-based beverages, it is useful to specify that in America the minimum age for drinking alcohol is 21. It seems a paradox, given that at 16 you get your driver's license and at 18 you have the right to vote.

Up until the early XNUMXth century, almost everyone in the United States drank, including teenagers and children. With the advent of prohibition in the XNUMXs, the consumption of alcohol is drastically lowered and it is decided to put limits to keep the young ones away. The government therefore imposes 18 as the age for drinking and purchasing alcoholic products.

Despite this, in the following decades there has been a dramatic increase in road accidents involving adolescents.

For this reason, in 1984 the National Minimum Age Drinking Act raises the drinking age to 21 in all 50 federal states. Here are the most popular and popular alcoholic beverages in the United States.


Those who do not want to give up a good beer will have no difficulty in buying one in supermarkets or bars. For Americans, beer is not just a drink, but a real one form of socialization and conviviality, like barbecue or baseball.

There are an estimated 7.000 industrial and craft breweries in the United States. Those who want to be on the safe side can take one of the legendary beers of the great local industry such as Budweiser, Coors, Blue Monn, Miller o Anchor Liberty.

These are essentially characterized by their rather light taste and low alcohol content which does not always satisfy the most demanding foreigners.

In recent years, however, the microbreweries offering excellent quality craft beers. The epicenter of this type of beer is mainly concentrated in the Pacific Northwest area, that is, between Oregon and Washington State.

In most of the restaurants and pubs of the main cities, evenings dedicated to are organized craft beer tastings with qualified sommeliers who will suggest the right combinations with food.


Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, Cabernet Sauvignon e Zinfandel are some of the most renowned wines that make up American wine production. In the last 30 years they have also established themselves internationally, so much so that they rival the Spanish and French labels.

Many of the US companies have received major awards and today the US is the fourth largest wine producer in the world. In particular, the magnificent are leading the way wines area of California which constitute 90% of the entire national production.

The Northern California Wine Country is the ideal place for growing vineyards, especially in County Sonoma and in Napa Valley, where over 300 wineries reside. Among the most important wineries we can mention Robert Mondavi, Castello di Amorosa, Mayacamas and V. Sattui.

In addition to California, there are other regions known for viticulture that attract new tourists every year. For example, Riesling and Pinot Noir are produced in the Hill Country in Texas or in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Not least are the wines of the Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley in New York State.

San Francisco: Excursion to the Land of Wine (with Tasting)

Whiskey e bourbon

Whiskey and bourbon are undoubtedly the two most loved and exported spirits from the United States. Such as composition of ingredients and distillation the two drinks look alike, but the main difference is that before being aged in oak barrels, the whiskey is filtered through a layer of Tennessee maple charcoal.

It is precisely in the distillery of the city of Lynchburg that the infamous was born in 1866 Jack Daniels, the most popular whiskey in the world.

The establishment now allows visitors to take one-hour guided tours, during which you can appreciate the taste and intense aroma.

As regards instead the bourbon, its name is related to Kentucky. First produced in 1789 in the Bourbon Country, currently most of America's bourbon is distilled in Bluegrass State, nickname of Kentucky, the only state that can put its name on the labels.

To have a quality bourbon it must be aged in oak barrels for at least 2 years and must contain a minimum he 51% di but. Bourbon lovers will find several distilleries not only in Kentucky, but also in Georgia, Illinois, California, Indiana and Pennsylvania.


In the United States, cocktails are now an indispensable must and in most cases they have their own American origin. The local population is used to queuing up to enter the most renowned cocktail bars and there are those who spend up to $ 15-20 for a single drink.

Among the most important cocktails of US origin are:

  • Cosmopolitan: vodka, cointreau, lime, cranberry juice;
  • Old Fashioned: bourbon, sugar, angostura bitter, orange peel;
  • Martini Dry: gin, vermouth dry;
  • Vodka Martini: vodka, vermouth dry;
  • Manhattan: rye whiskey, vermouth rosso;
  • Long Island Iced Tea: vodka, tequila, white rum, gin, triple sec, lemon juice, cola.

It is good to say that American cocktails essentially stand out in long drink e short drink, which in turn are divided into pre-dinner, after dinner and anytime.

The base is composed of a distillate that will give the drink its alcoholic consistency. To this is added the flavoring ingredient represented by a liqueur and finally a coloring ingredient such as fruit juices, creams and syrups.

Cocktail Tour a New Orleans

Alcohol-free drinks

In the United States, there are not only alcoholic beverages. In fact, those who do not drink alcohol or do not like alcohol will find many types of carbonated drinks in the most disparate tastes.

Just as there is no shortage of smoothies, milkshakes and a wide choice of coffees in many variations and flavor combinations. Let's see some of the possibilities for those who want to drink something refreshing and more greedy.


The birth of the first carbonated drink is due to an Englishman who in the XNUMXth century understood how to dissolve carbon dioxide in water to make it sparkling.

In reality, the culture of soft drinks it was born in America and since then there has been no TV series or film in which someone does not appear with a can in their hand.

Despite various awareness campaigns that invite a healthy lifestyle, soft drinks are still today a symbol of aggregation.

Arriving in the United States, you will have an almost infinite range to choose from. The most famous is undoubtedly the dear old one Coca-Cola, born in 1896 from a pharmacist who wanted to cure toothache.

His recipe is still a secret and in addition to the Zero and Diet lines, the vanilla recipe is also very popular, difficult to find in Spain.

However, Coca Cola is not the first carbonated soft drink produced in the United States, as it was preceded by the Dr. Pepper.

Originally made in Texas, the provenance of its name is still unknown. The formulation is secret, but it seems that there are 23 ingredients, between natural and artificial flavors. The main flavors are Dr. Pepper Cherry, Dr. Pepper Cream Soda and Dr. Pepper Cherry Vanilla.

Another historical brand and bitter rival of Coca Cola is the Pepsi, born from the idea of ​​a North Carolina pharmacist in 1893. The name comes from an advertising campaign that emphasized beneficial effects against dyspepsia, or indigestion. Among the flavor variations are Pepsi Wild Cherry and Pepsi Vanilla.

The myth of carbonated soft drinks made in the USA is also there 7up, whose formula has changed over the decades. It appeared on the market in 1929 and essentially contains carbon dioxide enriched with lemon and lime aromas that give it a good digestive power.

How can we forget the famous one Fanta, so called from the German word Fantasie, that is, imagination. In fact, it seems that the drink was created in a Coca Cola plant in Germany.

Finally, in supermarkets you can find the Big Red Soda, originally from Texas and recognizable by its bright red color. It is one of the best-selling soft drinks and inside there are natural aromas of lemon, orange and vanilla.


Of a completely different kind is the so-called milkshake. It is a classic smoothie made with milk or ice cream and is easily recognizable by the large glass cups in which it is served in American diners and cafes.

It is a very nutritious and delicious specialty and is suitable for young and old. Its first appearance dates back to the XNUMXth century, when it was offered as a cold alcoholic zabaglione.

Over the years the milkshake has undergone various changes in the recipe, enriched with different decorations and toppings. There are versions in the flavors strawberry, mint or chocolate and its fresh flavor makes it perfect for a snack, breakfast or for a walk in the street.

It is usually offered in tall glass glasses and you will be given a straw to drink it. On top the milkshake is decorated with a candied cherry or with dark chocolate flakes, chopped hazelnuts or colored sprinkles. Sometimes chocolate syrup or whipped cream is used as an extra garnish.


Those lucky enough to visit the United States cannot fail to try American coffee or one of the many varieties found in coffee bars. Like the Spaniards, coffee is also for the Americans a ritual that is difficult to give up.

Wandering around the streets or sitting at the table, forget about cups, saucers and spoons. In New York and in every other city, coffee is drunk strictly in disposable paper cups in misure small, medium e large.

To mix you will not be given a teaspoon, but rather a wooden or plastic spoon, while the glass is supplied with a lid with a slot or tab.

However, if in Spain coffee is a moment of pause to be experienced at the bar or at home, here it is a drink to be consumed while walking, when going to work or on a date. From this habit derives the need to have resistant glasses, suitable for transport and with lids that preserve their aroma.

The typical coffee americano it is an elongated, or rather filtered, variant. To prepare it, there is a special machine with filter, in which the ground coffee is inserted. Obviously the taste is much lighter compared to the Spanish espresso and consequently you can drink larger quantities without problems.

You can order them at the coffee bars a rich selection of coffees for all tastes. In Starbucks and other cafes you will encounter timeless classics such as cappuccino, latte (our latte (our latte), mocha, espresso, iced coffee, drip coffee and red eye.

To be honest, the list is much longer, as every company has developed special proposals which include the addition of ingredients such as cream, vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, cocoa and much more.

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