Almost two-thirds (65%) of American adults drink alcoholic beverages on occasion, well within the 55-71% range observed over the past 70-odd years, reports Gallup in newly-released survey data. Among those whose who drink alcohol, the largest proportion (40%) last had a drink within the prior 24 hours, the research found. Beer remains the most commonly consumed alcoholic beverage, though there are strong gender differences.
Overall, 43% of alcohol drinkers said they most often drink beer, compared to 32% saying the same about wine and 20% about liquor. The percentage of drinkers saying they most often drink beer is the highest since 2002, when 44% said that was the case.
Still, there are varying trends when sorting by gender. Looking at combined data from 2010 through 2016, Gallup notes that 50% of female drinkers most often drink wine, more than double the percentage most often consuming beer (23%) or liquor (23%). Among male drinkers, a majority (54%) most often drank beer through that time period, with liquor taking slight precedence over wine among the remainder.
Compared to combined responses from the 2001-2009 period, the data indicates that liquor has become slightly more popular among men, while beer and liquor have both edged slightly down for women in favor of wine.
Gallup has previously found that Millennials’ alcohol preferences have dramatically changed over the past couple of decades, shifting away from beer and towards wine and liquor. Separate data from Scarborough indicates that Millennial beer-drinkers have a preference for domestic light beers, with regular domestic beers and imports relatively on par in past-30 day consumption. While the results indicated that 1 in 10 Millennials had recently purchased a microbrew, that percentage has likely grown in the 3 years since the study.
Returning to the latest Gallup study, the analysts identify an interesting pattern: alcohol consumption tends to be higher among higher-income groups. Specifically, during the 2010-2016 period, 79% of adults with household income (HHI) of at least $75k reported drinking at least occasionally, compared to 63% of adults with HHI of $30-75k and 49% of those with HHI of less than $30k.
About the Data: The latest study results from Gallup are based on telephone interviews conducted July 13-17, 2016, with a random sample of 1,023 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.