Drinking in America: Who, What and How Much is Spent?

Wine, beer and cocktails; millennials, baby boomers, gen x and y – who is drinking what type of alcohol in the United States?

I bet you know the answers but maybe there’s a surprise or two in this posting.

Let’s set the stage with an article from The Economist called “Thirsty Work” which answers the question of how long it takes to afford a beer around the world.  The information covers the number of minutes of work required to purchase 500ml (16.9 oz.) of beer all over the globe.

Of the 28 countries listed, the average is 20 minutes and the cost is $1.55. At the top of the list is India where the average price is $1.40 and takes over 55 minutes. At the bottom is the US at 5 minutes and $1.80. The Czech Republic comes in at just above the US at around 7 minutes with the cost at $1.25.

So if you’re reading this blog at work, take your time. You’re earning beer money.

Speaking about beer, according to Bundle, an online site that analyzes spending patterns of millions of Americans, we drink 50 billion pints a year and match the national GDP of Colombia. Their data indicate, not surprisingly, those 21 to 25 have increased their consumption in the past year while those 50+ decreased.

How much is spent at beer bars? The median is $30. At some bars located, ahem, near centers of higher learning, the median spend is $21. Not a lot of money for a night’s entertainment.

Cocktail spending according to Bundle — almost 60% of all spending in cocktail bars is by drinkers aged 26 to 49. On average, cocktail bar drinkers spent $45 per visit.

As you might expect, wine bars draw an older crowd who spends more money. Wine bar customers are most likely to be over 50 and account for 60% of the money spent. The average check is $61.

So, no surprises in answering the questions of who drinks what and how much they spend.

But, if I have the math right, an average beer tab at $31 and the US works 5 minutes to pay $1.80, then it takes 86 minutes of work to pay the tab. Is that correct?

Keep working. You might be able to upgrade to cocktails or wine.

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