With New Year's Eve right around the corner, you may be trying to decide which type of alcohol to buy for your celebration. Between wine, beer, liquor, and all the sparkling beverages, it's hard to decide which one to "cheers" to.
If you need a little help, you're in luck: In our latest report, the Brightly team studied past Google search data to determine the most popular alcohol type in every state. Aside from sharing popular picks, we also have everything you need to know about how to make an eco-friendly alcohol purchase.
The Brightly team studied Google search data from the past year for each of the 50 U.S. States. Using that data, we determined the most popular alcohol type in every state between beer, wine, liquor, hard cider, and hard seltzer. Keep reading to discover the most popular type in your state.
The Most Popular Alcohol Type in Every State
New Hampshire: Beer
New Jersey: Wine
New Mexico: Wine
New York: Wine
North Carolina: Wine
North Dakota: Beer
Rhode Island: Wine
South Carolina: Wine
South Dakota: Beer
West Virginia: Beer
How to Buy Alcohol More Sustainably
While cider and hard seltzer are undoubtedly popular options, they can't match the popularity of beer, wine, and liquor. But no matter which type of alcohol you're heading to the store for, consider a more eco-friendly pick. It's one small (and easy!) step you can take to better the planet.
Maybe that's choosing a beer from a local brewery, or opting for a bottle of wine with sustainable labels. Whatever the case may be, buying eco-friendly alcohol is a lot easier than you think.
Buying a more eco-friendly beer starts with inspecting the label. Check to see if the beer is vegan, organic, or locally brewed—even better if it's all three!
Many beers also use animal-derived ingredients during the brewing process, like isinglass (which comes from the dried swim bladders of fish) and gelatin (made from animal skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones). Animal products require more resources, so opting for alcohol without them reduces your impact.
You can also buy your beer from local breweries to reduce carbon emissions and support local businesses. Many even offer refillable bottles. Plenty of breweries are also B Corps, which meet high standards of "verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose."
Brands to Try:
Founded and led by women, Sparkke prioritizes people and the environment. The brand offers carbon zero beers, including an IPA, pale ale, sour, and a lager. If beer isn't your thing, you can try Sparkke's hard lemonade.
New Belgium makes great beer with the planet in mind. It's a certified B Corp and wants to prove "business can be a force for good." In fact, its beloved Fat Tire beer was the first certified carbon neutral beer in the U.S., and all of its beers will be carbon neutral by 2030.
Whether you enjoy a glass of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, or Merlot, the first step in buying an eco-friendly wine is checking the label.
A great place to start is looking for a USDA Organic label, which tells you the wine was made with organic grapes and no GMOs. Another way to shop sustainably is to assess the vineyard's agricultural and ethical practices.
California-based vineyards may be assessed with a Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW) label. There are several other third-party certification labels unique to each state.
You can also buy from local vineyards. One of the main reasons buying wine can be unsustainable is the carbon emissions from shipping wine both nationally and globally. Local food (and wine) have a lower carbon footprint because it travels less distance. When shopping for your next bottle, opt for local whenever possible.
Brands to Try:
ONEHOPE Wine donates to organizations that provide access to water and hunger relief. Today, more than $7 million has been donated. The vineyard, which is located in Napa Valley, is also organically farmed and has sustainable practices in place like recycling water for landscape irrigation.
Another wine brand to try is Nomen Wine. In an effort to reduce waste, the company uses PET wine bottles that are "90% lighter than glass bottles, 100% recyclable, and account for 77% less greenhouse gas emissions." The wines are also gluten-free, vegan, and sustainably farmed.
Liquor includes vodka, rum, tequila, whiskey, and more. Most distilled spirits require a lot more energy than other types of alcoholic beverages, making them less eco-friendly than other drinks.
To buy liquor that's more sustainable, look for local distilleries and research how they source ingredients. Many are partnering with local farms and using alternative energy sources to reduce their impact.
While the most popular liquor brands may not be overtly transparent about the ingredients on their labels, smaller brands may be organic and Fair Trade Certified.
Brands to Try:
Greenbar Distillery is a carbon-negative alcohol brand based in Los Angeles. Featuring organic spirits and post-consumer waste recycled labels, this company is putting the planet first. Plus, for every bottle sold, Greenbar Distillery plants a tree.
Gray Whale Gin is helping bring an end to the use of drift gillnets by donating 1% of all sales to Oceana. The alcohol itself is a small-batch gin distilled from Californian botanicals that are sustainably sourced or wildly foraged. The bottle features a 100% biodegradable cork and organic paint. The brand also upcycles its empty bottles, making candles with pure essential oils. All proceeds go straight to Oceana.
FAIR is the "leading Fairtrade Certified liquor brand." Aside from ensuring workers who grow the crops are paid fair wages, the beverages are also organic, vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO.
4. Hard Cider
Cider is one of the most sustainable alcohols to choose from because it requires less energy to make. The apples don't need to be perfect, either, which reduces waste. Unlike grocery stores that don't sell pristine-looking apples, cider brands don't discriminate; they all taste the same.
Do some research into the brand before making a purchase. Check for sustainable business practices, including how the brand handles waste or whether it uses environmentally conscious packaging. A brand that uses organic apples is also a great option.
Brands to Try:
The Cider Farm, located in Madison, Wisconsin, believes organic farming not only benefits the land, water, and wildlife, but also enhances the taste of its cider. It also focuses on small-batch releases, which reduces waste.
Jack's Hard Cider brings tasty, hand-crafted hard cider while also protecting the planet through eco-friendly practices. The apples are grown, pressed, and fermented on-site in Biglerville, Pennsylvania, and a solar hot water system is used to clean the tanks and equipment. There's also nothing artificial in the cider. You won't find preservatives or concentrate—just apples (or other fruit juices) and carbonation.
5. Hard Seltzer
Hard or spiked seltzers are becoming increasingly popular, with well-known brands dipping their toes in the hard seltzer market. These drinks come in fun flavors and seasonal themes, so consumers always come back for more.
When shopping for hard seltzer, look for an option that's vegan-friendly and/or organic. Also, shop from a small or local business, if there are options in your area. Also, be on the lookout for brands that are transparent about the ingredients used in the beverages and how those ingredients are sourced.
Brands to Try:
Crook & Marker has a wide variety of beverages—hard seltzer, included. Everything is USDA Organic, non-GMO, vegan, and gluten-free, as well as free of artificial ingredients and sweetened from natural sources.
Sercy is USDA Certified Organic and free of artificial preservatives. The brand also sources its sugar from a Fair Trade Certified company that's part of the Native Green Cane Project network.