TikTok’s Viral “Three Drink Theory” May Be the Key to Hacking Any Day

Updated: Mar. 14, 2024

Because in these tough times, who doesn't need an emotional support drink—or three?

Staying hydrated throughout the day is hard. So is working from home. On TikTok, users have been trying to find ways to make these tasks easier and more joyful. One such method that originated in 2019 is having a current resurgence: the three-drink theory. Here is everything you need to know about the trend and, most importantly, how to try it out for yourself.

What is the three-drink theory?

The three-drink theory is the idea that you should have three different beverages on your person—and particularly on your work desk—at all times. Each beverage in this trifecta serves a different purpose: “caffeinate, alleviate hydrate.” To that end, the constant beverage in this magical combination is always some form of water, the second beverage is some kind of energy booster, and the third is something that brings you a little joy—a work-time treat.

Who originated the three-drink theory?

Amanda Mull, a staff writer at Vanity Fair, seems to have been the first mainstream content creator to address the trend back in 2019 in an article called “Always Have Three Beverages.”

But the resurgence on TikTok is largely due to a video from Wilson Pendleton (@sophiawpendleton), a comedian who posted about this trend back in 2021. In their TikTok, they explain that “drinking three liquids at once” is the “height of luxury.” They continue, “In those moments I just feel like I have it all. I’m living large and I am a little prince.”

@sophiawpelton If u saw this as a tweet, it’s because that tweet was mine #fyp #viral #comedy #genz #millennial #TreatiestCupContest #ForYouPizza #meme #nyc #coffee #vodkaredbull #matcha #spindrift #bloodymary ♬ original sound – Soph

The three-drink trend has also gained momentum on TikTok thanks to Annika Hansteen-Izora (@annikaizora). In their video, they show themselves gathering a “small army of emotional support beverages.” Their video was created in 2022 and is largely credited with popularizing the cheeky term “emotional support beverages.”

@annikaizora gotta be surrounded by at least 3 different lukewarm drinks 😌 #coffee #worklife #workfromhome ♬ Feels Like (feat. Kevin JZ Prodigy) – MikeQ

Which three drinks are best?

Hot Coffee Cup With Coffee Beans On The Wooden Table, Cold Coffee, Iced Matcha Green Tea And Fruit SodaMonthiraYodtiwong/Getty Images

If you’d like to try the three-drink trend for yourself, customization is key. It’s really about building a collection of beverages that offer a small dose of pleasure, especially during the work day, so brainstorm what drinks accomplish that for you.

For the “hydrate” element, select some kind of water. This could be plain tap water, but it could also be Bubly, Spindrift or spa-style water infused with fruit. Choose something that will incentivize you to properly hydrate!

The second beverage for “caffeination” could be anything from matcha to Red Bull. Try to pick an energy-boosting beverage that won’t leave you feeling anxious. Coffee is, of course, a classic choice, but yerba mate could be just as rewarding.

In picking a third beverage, focus on something that sounds delightful to you. “Alleviation” could mean soothing a particular ailment, like an upset stomach with rice tea, or emotional ennui by drinking a milkshake. In the words of Mull, “completing the desk-bev triumvirate is where the magic happens. A third beverage is your wild card, a chance for a little bit of random pleasure in a period of the day that is otherwise not your own.” So try to select a treat for yourself, be it a nice organic juice or a Wendy’s Frosty. Both count.

Now, friends, go drink and conquer!