Americans Have Forgotten How To Get Cheap Alcohol


[credit provider=”NPR”]

Sometimes the easiest ways to save are right under our noses––and even then we still can’t manage to sniff them out. While the price of hitting up bars and restaurants for a nightcap has risen nearly 80 per cent over the last 30 years, Americans have spent less on store-bought spirits and doubled their alcohol spending outside the home, according to the latest findings in NPR’s Graphing America series.

You can blame inflation and rising alcohol costs for most of the trend. Spirits saw a 9.7 per cent price jump in 2011 and beer wasn’t far behind at 9.5 per cent, according to the Consumer Price Index.

Still, it’s a wonder consumers haven’t sought out more affordable drinking options at home. Store-bought booze has seen a 39 per cent drop in prices since 1982 and yet it makes up 16 per cent less of our alcohol spending these days, according to the Bureau of labour Statistics. 

There’s one bright spot, however––we’ve more than doubled our wine consumption at home, which is one of the easiest ways to avoid sky-high restaurant bills. Locales mark up price points on bottles by as much as 300 per cent of the retail value, according to

Wherever you drink, the trick is not overdoing it. A recent CDC report found over-consumption of alcohol takes nearly $750 out of Americans’ wallets each year on average. 

While there are probably fewer things less appealing than the idea of sipping sparkling water at a bar packed with party-goers, it’s a tip professional matchmaker Thomas Edwards always gives clients on a budget. 

“Cities will have launch parties, social events and happy hours with open bar where you can drink for free,” he says. “But if you don’t have access to those things, you can still go out to these places. Get a water. It’s free. Or if you must, buy a tonic with a lime in it. It’s been proven no one will know the difference.”

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