3 in 10 Americans Drink Alcohol

Maybe it’s a glass of wine. For some, it might be a beer or a gin and tonic.

But whatever the choice is, three in ten Americans, 21 and older (29%) say they drink alcohol at least once a week, including 5% who drink daily and 10% who drink several times a week. One in five Americans 21 or older (20%) say they drink alcohol at least once a month and 15% drink it several times a year. One in five Americans (22%) say they never drink alcohol. Men are more frequent drinkers than women are as almost two in five men (38%) say they drink at least once a week compared to 21% of women.

What people are drinking
Among those who imbibe at least several times a year, beer is the top choice. Almost two-thirds of drinkers (63%) say they personally drink beer when they drink while over half (54%) drink domestic wine. Two in five (41%) drink vodka while one-third (34%) drink rum. Just under three in ten drink tequila (28%) and foreign wine (28%) while one in five (20%) drink various types of whiskies such as Irish or Canadian. Further down the list of preferred alcoholic beverages are champagne (17%), cordials and liqueurs (17%), bourbon (15%), gin (14%), scotch (11%), cognac (8%) and brandy/Armagnac (7%).
It’s probably not surprising that men and women have different drinking preferences. Men are more likely to drink beer (75% vs. 50%), bourbon (23% vs. 6%) and scotch (17% vs. 4%). Women, however, are more likely to drink domestic wine (63% vs. 45%), champagne (23% vs. 13%) and foreign wine (31% vs. 26%).
What people drink most often
While people may drink multiple types of alcohol, when asked which one type they drink most often, beer still comes out on top. One-third of those who drink at least several times a year (34%) say they drink beer most often while just under one-quarter (22%) drink domestic wine most often. One in ten (12%) drink vodka most often while 6% drink rum and 5% drink foreign wine. All other alcohol is below 5%.
Depending on their age, drinkers have a type of alcohol they drink most often. For Echo Boomers (ages 21-34) and Gen Xers (ages 35-46) beer is the clear beverage of choice. For Echo Boomers beer is over domestic wine 37% to 20% and for Gen Xers it is an even larger difference–41% to 14%. For Baby Boomers (ages 47-65), it is a little more narrow as 33% drink beer most often and 22% drink domestic wine most often. Matures (ages 66 and older) flip the order as domestic wine is the drink of choice over beer, 36% to 22%.
So What?
According to many doctors and medical studies, a glass of wine is good for one’s health. And even beyond wine, a drink, as long as it’s in moderation, is something that people shouldn’t be afraid of having–advice Americans seem to have taken to heart. The types of alcohol people drink has held pretty consistent over the past two years with beer, wine and vodka clearly remaining the top three choices. This is probably a testament to alcoholic trends coming and going (tiki drinks being hot one year, not so the following) but certain tried and true choices staying.
by The Harris Poll® #46, April 6, 2011
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive

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