Taking a Census of U.S. Drinkers

We’re a nation of drinkers, but not (mostly) of hard drinkers. In a Harris Poll conducted last month, just 22 percent of men and 29 percent of women said they never touch alcohol. Adults who drink at least several times a week are an even smaller minority, though. Twenty-two percent of 18-32-year-olds drink that often, as do 11 percent of 33-44-year-olds, 18 percent of 45-63s and 20 percent of those 64 and older. Men are more likely than women to fall (face first or otherwise) into this category, 25 percent vs. 11 percent.

When people who drink were asked to say what sort of alcohol they consume, beer got the most mentions (cited by 67 percent), followed by domestic wine (49 percent), vodka (41 percent), rum (32 percent), foreign wine (29 percent) and tequila (24 percent). Scotch (13 percent) and bourbon (15 percent) came in a bit behind “other whisky” (16 percent). Eighty-one percent of the poll’s male drinkers consume beer, vs. 51 percent of female drinkers. Women were more likely than men to say they drink domestic wine (56 percent vs. 43 percent).

There’s plenty of regional variation in drinking habits. Easterners were the most likely to say they drink at least several times a week (24 percent) and Midwesterners the least likely (13 percent). Easterners were also the most likely to drink foreign wine (42 percent) and vodka (47 percent), while Westerners were the most likely to drink beer (71 percent) and tequila (32 percent).