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Americans Now Booze More at Bars

Examination of changing US drinking habits since 1982 reveals more wine, less hard liquor and less drinking at home.

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Apparently martinis were bigger in the '80s. Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

06/22/12

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It looks like the stocked liquor cabinets of MadMen days have been replaced by social drinking in public venues. Drinkers in the US are spending significantly more money on alcohol in bars and restaurants, and less on alcohol in stores—according to an NPR report featuring some fascinating infographics. Overall, consumers have spent about the same amount on alcohol for the last 30 years—about $1 out of every $100—but 40% of the booze budget now goes to bars and restaurants, a 16% climb since 1982. But this doesn't necessarily imply that they're going out more often. After adjusting for inflation, the price of alcohol at stores has actually gone down, probably because of increased productivity over time, while prices at bars have shot up. The report also notes that when consumers do drink at home, they now prefer wine to hard liquor—another major change over the last 30 years. Almost 40% of American booze money at the store is spent on wine, compared to 16% in 1982. Hard liquor spending has decreased over 20%, while beer remains the number one type of alcohol purchased at stores. So one thing, at least, hasn't changed: Americans love beer.

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