Amidst spring occasions and rise in outdoor drinking, major 2021 trends like growth of hard kombucha and ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails, particularly those that appeal to hard seltzer drinks, held strong in May. But new seasonal trends also emerged, such as the success of a popular Sancerre brand and an uptick in Cognac sales. Explore all these and more with the top 5 insights from Drizly’s May 2021 sales data.

Inside May’s Fastest-Growing Subcategories

Both wine and liquor saw new subcategories leading growth in the month of May. Wine’s fastest-growing subcategory year-over-year was orange wine, led by Austria’s Biokult Naken Orange Wine. Within the spirits category, brandy led year-over-year growth led by Cognac specifically, which held 88 percent of brandy share in May. “We also saw a spike in search volume for this category in May, likely driven by demand for spring cocktails like Cognac margaritas and Brandy Alexander,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights.

The fastest-growing beer categories in May reflected ongoing 2021 trends; hard iced tea, non-alcoholic beer, and hard kombucha led growth.

Tequila and RTD Success on Cinco de Mayo

Drizly users were ready to celebrate Cinco de Mayo last month, with sales 20 percent higher than the average of the previous four Wednesdays. Sales were dominated by liquor (which spiked to 52 percent on Cinco de Mayo compared to 43 percent in the month prior), specifically tequila, which was the top-selling liquor subcategory and held 35 percent of liquor share compared to 17 percent over the month prior.

Extras like ice, limes, and mixers gained a percentage point of share on Cinco de Mayo, and ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails saw share gains as well, led by margarita RTD flavors. The top-selling RTD SKU was Cutwater Tequila Margarita, up from the No. 8 spot on the occasion last year, and No. 5 RTD SKU On The Rocks Hornitos Margarita Cocktail was up from the No. 30 spot last year.

Highlights from Memorial Day Weekend

The unofficial start to the summer season resulted in share increases for both beer and liquor, and sales gains were highest on Sunday, May 30, seeing 32 percent higher sales than the previous Sundays in May. 

The beer category, which gained two percentage points over Memorial Day weekend, was aided by increased demand for hard seltzer, which held 28 percent of beer share over Memorial Day weekend. That’s up from 25 percent of share in May 2021 overall and up from 21 percent of share over Memorial Day weekend 2020. Liquor share gained one percentage point, and RTD cocktails moved into the No. 4 liquor subcategory position, behind whiskey, vodka, and tequila. RTD sales share doubled over Memorial Day weekend 2020, accounting for 6 percent of share this year. 

May’s Breakout Brands

Last month’s breakout brands reflected both seasonal and annual trends. Loire Valley producer Célestin Blondeau was the breakout wine brand of May, with growth led by their top-selling Sancerre — a new favorite among spring drinkers.

Single-serve RTDs have been experiencing growth as a whole over the past year — in May ready-to-drink share grew from three percent to five percent of liquor sales year-over-year and Canteen Spirits broke away from the pack. The Texas brand specializes in flavored vodka-sodas, making it a good crossover option for hard seltzer drinkers. The fast growth of Flying Embers further underscores the rapid success of hard kombucha. Top SKUs include the brand’s variety pack and sweet & heat variety pack, as well as the grapefruit, black cherry, and pineapple chili hard kombucha flavors.

Market Insights: Springfield, Missouri

Springfield, Missouri is a new market on Drizly as of 2020 and was one of the platform’s fastest-growing markets in May 2021. The market skews more towards liquor sales on Drizly, with spirits accounting for 68 percent share of Springfield’s sales in May (compared to 44 percent share nationally). Whiskey sales specifically dominate, holding 54 percent share of liquor sales compared to 33 percent nationwide.