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Here's Looking At You

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Whatever the curse of the working class might be these days, it isn't drink. A Gallup poll finds 66 percent of adults sometimes drink alcoholic beverages. But just 14 percent have more than one drink per day on average. In fact, while 28 percent of self-identified drinkers said they'd tossed one back in the 24 hours before being polled, 34 percent hadn't touched a drop in more than a week. Asked how many drinks they'd consumed in the previous seven days, 34 percent of drinkers said none, 50 percent said 1-7, 9 percent said 8-19 and5 percent said 20-plus. (Those of you who've been skewing the national averages know who you are.) There's a gender gap between those who drink and those who don't, but it's a curiously inconsistent one. Among 18-29-year-olds, the 77 percent of men who drink are nearly matched by the 76 percent of women who do so. There's no gap at all in the 65-plus population, with 48 percent of both sexes saying they drink. In the intervening years, though, there's a sizeable gap: Among 30-49-year-olds, 77 percent of men and 64 percent of women are drinkers; among 50-64-year-olds, 73 percent of men and 54 percent of women are drinkers. Actually, the sharper gender gap is among people who do drink, with men putting away more of the stuff than women. While 27 percent of male drinkers average at least one drink per day, 10 percent of female drinkers do so. Moreover, male drinkers are twice as likely as their female counterparts (28 percent vs. 13 percent) to confess they drink too much at times. What are America's drinkers drinking? Six of 10 male imbibers said they most often drink beer, while 19 percent said it's liquor and 16 percent cited wine. Wine is the favorite for a plurality of female drinkers (46 percent), followed by liquor(27 percent) and beer (25 percent). Preferences also vary by age. For instance, while beer is tops among 53 percent of 18-29-year-olds, it holds that status among 48 percent of 30-49s, 36 percent of 50-64s and 29 percent of drinkers 65 and older.