What makes a drink go viral?
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I blame Tom Hanks. Or rather, I blame my friend Clare – because she forwarded the clip of Hanks on The Late Show demo-ing his latest liquid hack: Diet Coke served in a tall glass with ice and topped with champagne.
“I’m not a big drinker... so I usually have a Diet Coke,” Hanks explained to host Stephen Colbert. “We were at the Café Carlyle... there was a bottle of champagne and I wanted to celebrate.” Delighted with the result, he christened it #dietcokagne.
I’m wary of drinks with a hashtag – but this recipe spoke to me. Coke’s spicy sweetness, I could imagine, would be a pretty good match for champagne’s zippy salinity. And I must admit, I actually quite liked it. As Colbert averred: “It’s so refreshing – it’s like an American Aperol Spritz!”
The fact #dietcokagne has amassed more than 13mn views on TikTok has, I’m sure, little to do with how it tastes. It’s more to do with the fact Hanks granted us all permission to mess with a beverage that’s usually pretty po-faced.
The 2022 TikTok smash, the Negroni Sbagliato – or “bungled Negroni” – was born of a mistake when, in the ’70s, a Milanese bartender mixed a Negroni with prosecco instead of gin. When this obscure aperitivo was referenced by House of the Dragon stars Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke in an interview last year, the hashtag blew up online, clocking 76.1mn TikTok views to date. By the end of 2022, US Google searches for “Negroni Sbagliato” were up 5,640 per cent.
TikTokers have a soft spot for drinks that are bungled, muddled or besmirched. The #dirtyshirley – a Shirley Temple spiked with vodka (20.3mn views) – has lately been back in the news. The #dirtymartini’s (42.1mn views) been trending too. Sometimes the mash-ups get ugly: take the renaissance of eggnog. @allyssainthekitchen whipping up a dairy-free, candy-cane eggnog with crème de menthe for her 425k followers (“It’s Christmas in a cup!”) is a sight I will never un-see.
While millions watched rosé get fired up with sliced jalapenos in 2022, others sought ways to remove the burn from the booze. A clip of @callmebelly putting a $10 bottle of vodka through a Brita filter clocked up 5.9mn views.
Some of the greatest crimes against drink, however, are actually alcohol-free. I give you the menacingly entitled #internalshower – a “cleanse” of lemon juice, water and chia seeds. Wellness influencers also went wild for TikToker Amanda Jones’s so-called “healthy Coke” – a parsimonious blend of balsamic vinegar and flavoured sparkling water.
When it comes to viral drinks, the frothy #dalgonacoffee (749.4mn TikTok views) still holds the crown. More recently the #orangejuiceespresso (5.8mn views) has also been the subject of much TikTok tinkering. That’s not to say that TikTok is devoid of good recipes. But finding them sure takes some sifting – till then it’s champagne and cola for me.