As Economy Recovers, Americans Are Drinking More Alcohol

It looks like Americans’ spirits are up — or at least the sales of spirits to Americans are up, as a new survey shows that people are buying more beer, wine and liquor when they go out to eat.

According to Technomic’s 2012 BarTAB study, sales of the adults-only drinks at restaurants were at $93.7 billion in 2011, a 4.9% increase over the previous year. And the researchers behind the numbers say booze-buying is trending upward for this year and next.

“Now that we’re into the recovery and consumer confidence is improving, they’re giving in and going for that affordable indulgence,” Technomic’s senior director tells the Nation’s Restaurant News, adding that restaurant owners are going out of their way to lure customers in with their drink offerings. “They’re doing beer dinners and tequila dinners. That generates excitement among consumers.”

The report found that an eatery’s drink selection influences 1-in-3 consumers’ decision of whether or not to eat there. Which makes sense when you see that more people are drinking alcohol with their meals.

“There’s larger interest in how food and beverage work together,” explains Tecnomic. “Blending food and drink together, whether it be a spiked milkshake or a bourbon glaze, I think is great for both the drink side of the menu and the food side of the menu.”

While beer accounts for more than 80% of all alcoholic beverages sold in restaurants, spirits — which generally cost more — are responsible for a full third of the money made on alcohol sales.