What’s your favorite tipple?
Gallup polling has been asking consumers about their most favored alcoholic drinks for 30 years, and over that time, beer has been more popular than liquor and wine in every poll except for five. Today, some 37% of drinkers say they drink beer most often, while 31% prefer liquor and 29% favor wine.
But while beer reigns supreme among alcoholic beverages, the percentage of drinkers who say that liquor is their favorite drink is now the highest on record, by one percentage point. The poll was carried out between July 3 and July 27 among a random sample of 1,015 adults age 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
“Although it continues to hold on to the top spot, beer is less dominant now than at points in the 1990s and early 2000s, when close to half said it was their preferred alcoholic beverage,” Gallup said in a report released this month. “Between 2011 and 2013, wine was the second-most-popular drink, essentially tying with beer.”
Spirits also now hold a bigger market share than other types of alcohol, at 42.1% versus 41.9% for beer and 16% for wine, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a trade group that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023. The category has been given a boost by celebrity brands from movie stars like Mark Wahlberg, George Clooney and Dwayne Johnson, who have all launched tequila brands.
In 2017, Diageo PLC said it had agreed to buy the Casamigos tequila brand, founded by George Clooney, Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman, in a deal that values the brand at up to $1 billion. The initial consideration for Casamigos was $700 million, with the potential for up to an additional $300 million based on performance over the next 10 years.
“Hard liquor tends to be more expensive than beer or wine. ”
Major beverage brands — including Diageo DEO, +0.90% and Anheuser-Busch InBev BUD, +0.39% — advocate drinking responsibly, offering initiatives aimed at encouraging conversations about having a designated driver and talking to a driver who has consumed alcohol. More than 140,000 people die from excessive alcohol use in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hard liquor tends to be more expensive than most beer and wine. U.S. consumers spent $37.58 billion on spirits in 2022, up 5.1% over the previous year, according to figures from the Beverage Information Group. Gallup said liquor remains more popular among women — at 31%, versus 29% for men — and among 18- to 34-year-olds — at 41%, versus 36% for older Americans.
Alcohol consumption has remained relatively steady. When Gallup asked, “Do you have occasion to use alcoholic beverages such as liquor, wine or beer, or are you a total abstainer?” 62% of respondents said they drink alcohol. That percentage has remained above 60% for 25 years. It hovered around 70% in the late 1970s and early 1980s but dipped to 58% in 1998.
Drinking is more prevalent among Americans in some demographic groups, Gallup found. Middle-aged adults, people with higher incomes, college-educated adults and those who attend a house of worship less frequently than once a week are all associated with higher drinking rates than their lower-income, less educated and more religious compatriots.
“Among those who do drink alcohol, 69% report having done so within the past week, including 32% who say it was in the past 24 hours and 37% two to seven days ago,” Gallup said. “Another 32% say their last drink was more than a week ago. On average, U.S. drinkers report that they had four drinks in the past week, which matches the trend average since 1996.”