Despite changing Covid protocols, consumers’ gathering and purchasing habits over Thanksgiving—and the days leading up to it—are good indicators of what retailers should expect for holidays in December and early 2022. Which subcategories, brands, and SKUs came out on top, and which dropped in share compared to Thanksgiving 2020?

To gain insights through Thanksgiving 2021’s “winners,” BevAlc Insights compared trends over the Thanksgiving 2021 stocking period (November 23 to 25, 2021) to the prior year stocking period (November 22 to 24, 2020). Read on for intel on what to expect for the rest of the holiday season.

Liquor Holds Strong

Unlike Thanksgiving 2020, when wine overtook liquor as the top-selling category on Drizly, liquor held strong in 2021. It held 45 percent of share over the stocking period, compared to just 41 percent last year, a sure sign that consumer preferences for liquor will hold true through a historically wine-centric holiday season.

Wine took the second spot, experiencing a slight year-over-year decline from 44 percent in 2020 to 43 percent in 2021, and beer experienced a decline of three percentage points year-over-year (from 15 to 12 percent).

Drizly’s Top-Selling Liquor Brands, Thanksgiving 2021 Stocking Period (Nov. 23 to 25)

  1. Tito’s
  2. Casamigos
  3. Johnnie Walker
  4. Don Julio
  5. Bulleit
  6. Jack Daniel’s
  7. Clase Azul
  8. Jameson
  9. The Macallan
  10. Smirnoff

Big Gains for Tequila

Across subcategory, brand, and SKU trends on Drizly, tequila came out on top over Thanksgiving 2021. Like it did last year, silver/blanco tequila held the No. 7 spot on Drizly’s best-sellers list, and it was joined in the top 10 by reposado tequila, which rose from the No. 14 spot last year to the No. 10 spot this year, replacing proprietary red blends.

“Tequila continued its popularity during the holiday time frame, following its trend as one of the fastest-growing spirit categories on Drizly over the past couple of years,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights.

Añejo tequila also gained share over the Thanksgiving stock-up period, rising 10 spots to reach No. 12 over Thanksgiving 2021, indicating that consumers are continuing to broaden their tastes and reach for more premium bottles.

Brand and product-specific trends underscored tequila’s momentum. Casamigos and Casamigos Blanco were the second-best selling liquor brand and SKU, respectively, over the Thanksgiving 2021 stocking period; the brand moved up one spot to replace Bulleit Bourbon, which held the No. 2 spot last year, while its popular blanco tequila rose from the No. 5 spot last year. Other tequila brands such as Don Julio and Clase Azul also gained share year-over-year, with Clase Azul Reposado holding the No. 3 spot on the top-selling liquor SKUs list.

Drizly’s Top-Selling Liquor SKUs, Thanksgiving 2021 Stocking Period (Nov. 23 to 25)

  1. Tito’s Handmade Vodka
  2. Casamigos Blanco
  3. Clase Azul Reposado Tequila
  4. Jameson Irish Whiskey
  5. Bulleit Bourbon
  6. Grey Goose Vodka
  7. Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky
  8. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  9. Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka
  10. Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey

Moves Away from Hard Seltzer (and Towards Light Lager and RTDs)

The top seven subcategories on Drizly held consistent year-over-year, with Champagne, Scotch whisky, and silver/blanco tequila ranking behind the standard top four of red wine, white wine, vodka, and bourbon.

Echoing the recent drop-off in growth for hard seltzer, the category lost share slightly year-over-year, dropping from No. 8 to No. 9 from last year to this year. In its place, light lager gained share, moving up one spot to No. 8, indicating that consumers may lean more towards light lager favorites for holiday gatherings rather than beer alternatives.

Though they didn’t rank in the top 10, ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails did see significant gains compared to the Thanksgiving 2020 stocking period. RTDs rose from No. 37 in Drizly’s top-selling subcategories list last year to No. 24 this year, a sign that consumers are not packing away their RTD cocktails for the winter season — and in fact, may be relying on them more for easy cocktails during the holidays.

An Early Trend Towards Higher-End Brands

Premium and luxury brands were winners over Thanksgiving 2021, with Champagne and sparkling wine making a strong showing in the wine category. “Despite discussion of Champagne shortages, Champagne continues to top both the top-selling SKU and brand lists from the wine category in the days leading up to Thanksgiving in 2021 on Drizly,” says Paquette.

Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label Champagne topped the wine SKUs list this year, as it did last year, while Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut Champagne climbed up the ranks (from No. 9 last year to No. 6 this year) and Dom Pérignon Vintage Champagne came from behind to enter the top 10 wine SKUs at No. 5. La Marca Prosecco, a more affordable sparkling option, bumped down popular reds like Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon and The Prisoner Red Blend Red Wine — the latter of which didn’t even make the top 10 this year, despite being the second-best selling wine over Thanksgiving 2020.

Drizly’s Top-Selling Wine SKUs, Thanksgiving 2021 Stocking Period (Nov. 23 to 25)

  1. Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label Champagne
  2. La Marca Prosecco
  3. Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
  4. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
  5. Dom Pérignon Vintage Champagne
  6. Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut Champagne
  7. Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  8. Meiomi Pinot Noir Red Wine
  9. Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon
  10. Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc

But it wasn’t just wine brands and SKUs that trended towards premium offerings over Thanksgiving; the top-selling liquor brands list also saw the rise of higher-end brands. “This may indicate consumers are shopping for luxury items earlier this season with brands like Don Julio and The Macallan scaling into the top 10,” says Paquette.