Here are the most popular alcoholic beverages in every state

ConsumerAffairs

From coast to coast, America’s favorite kind of sip is clear

Across the country, Americans consume all sorts of alcoholic drinks to toast special events or celebrate the company of friends. But what’s in those cups can vary from state to state, with distilled spirits, wine, or beer holding sway in different regions of the U.S.

ConsumerAffairs compiled data on which alcoholic beverages are the most popular in internet searches from state to state. We stacked this information alongside insights on which areas of the country drink the most and pay the most money to imbibe.

And to toast each state’s unique culture, we took a look at signature and regional cocktails so you can get a taste of what America is sipping from coast to coast.

Key insights

  • Residents in most states are searching for vodka when it comes to distilled spirits, although many consumers prefer whiskey across the Southern U.S.

  • The popularity of beer extends across the Rockies in Wyoming, Utah, and Montana. You can also find beer lovers in the Appalachian states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

  • The East Coast, specifically New Hampshire and Delaware, lead the charge on per capita alcohol consumption, while Utah and West Virginia boast the lowest rates. 

  • Higher alcohol taxes are paid on the West Coast, while residents in Midwestern states raise their glasses to lower-than-average alcohol taxes.

Photo

America’s most popular alcoholic beverage? Vodka 

Data on the most popular searched types of alcohol from state to state produces a clear winner—the distilled spirit known as vodka. While popularly thought to be a Russian spirit of choice, many U.S. states cheer vodka as a critical component in signature cocktails.

Whiskey comes in as the second most popular spirit due to its popularity across much of the American South and Alaska. The prevalence of this distilled spirit in American cups makes sense since bourbon, traditionally a type of whiskey derived from corn and aged in oak barrels, is thought to have originated in southern states before the Civil War.

Something about the mountains must inspire a thirst for microbrews. Amateur brewmasters and beer aficionados alike hold reign along what could be described as the American beer belt, which stretches across the Rocky Mountains from Montana to Utah. A pocket of beer lovers can also be found in the northeastern Appalachian states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Last but not least, we discovered a sprinkling of southern states that prefer tequila and a few northern states that favor gin or hard seltzer as their drinks of choice. Other standouts include California and Michigan, which are in the heart of wine country and the center of the Brandy Belt, respectively.

But what about Hawaii’s affinity for the fermented rice wine known as sake? Perhaps the state’s close ties to Japanese culture and relative proximity to the island nation contribute to its alcoholic preference.

Signature cocktails in each state

Looking to discover the signature sip in each state? We’ve compiled a list of state cocktails alongside their ingredients and origins, many of which are associated with local sports teams, historical events, or other regional quirks.

States with the highest and lowest per capita alcohol consumption

PhotoWondering who in America is raising a glass most often? According to data from The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the top two states with the highest per capita alcohol consumption hail from the East Coast. A handful of western and northwestern states follow them.

  1. New Hampshire

  2. Delaware

  3. Nevada

  4. Montana

  5. North Dakota

Unsurprisingly, the state with the lowest per capita consumption, Utah, is known for having residents who abstain from alcohol. However, the rest of the states on the list, primarily located across the southern U.S., aren’t necessarily notorious teetotalers.

  1. Utah

  2. West Virginia

  3. Oklahoma

  4. Georgia

  5. Arkansas

What’s the one thing both states with the lowest per capita alcohol consumption (Utah and West Virginia) have in common? A preference for hearty brews, which may explain why residents tap out early on refilling those pints.

States with the highest and lowest alcohol taxes

PhotoIf the popularity of moonshine during Prohibition taught Americans anything, it’s that sometimes what’s in your glass has more to do with what’s accessible and affordable. Many states levy alcohol excise taxes, sometimes referred to as “sin taxes,” to drive state revenue and encourage healthier rates of alcohol consumption. 

The West Coast grabs top spots for higher-than-average alcohol taxes, but the southern U.S. is also charging a little extra to exercise your right to imbibe. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, these are the states where making cocktails is going to cost you a little extra due to higher alcohol excise taxes:

  1. Washington

  2. Oregon

  3. Virginia

  4. Alabama

  5. North Carolina

Where do residents say cheers to lower alcohol taxes? Surprisingly, the states with the lowest alcohol excise taxes don’t necessarily correlate with higher per capita alcohol consumption rates.

  1. Missouri

  2. Colorado

  3. Texas

  4. Kansas

  5. Indiana

One clear trend in the state data on lower alcohol taxes is that all of the top four states with lower alcohol excise taxes lean toward whiskey. Whiskey, on average, is more expensive per bottle than vodka. 

Methodology

To determine the most popular alcoholic beverages, we looked at Google trends data to see the most searched alcoholic beverage terms in each state. Because several different types of whiskey enjoy wide popularity across the U.S., we grouped data for terms like scotch, Irish whisky, and bourbon whiskey together.

Discovering each state’s signature cocktail started with looking at local or regional culinary influences and official state foods to narrow down signature drinks across the country.

Data on alcohol consumption per capita was sourced from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism April 2023 Surveillance Report, which captures national, state, and regional trends in alcohol consumption from 1977-2021.


The alcohol excise taxes in each state are sourced from 2021 data gathered by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and compiled and analyzed by the nonprofit Tax Foundation.

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