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Drinking on the Rise, But Habits Vary by Region

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While alcohol consumption is on the rise in the United States, drinking preferences vary by region of the country, according to USA Today.

A 2010 Gallup Poll found consumption of alcohol was at a 25-year high, with 67 percent of Americans reporting they drink alcoholic beverages. That average masks regional preferences, which can be influenced by age, gender, income and religious practices, among other factors.

A faltering economy, with its accompanying increase in unemployment, gives more people time to drink, Jon Taffer, a bar consultant, told the newspaper.

Residents of New England, the far West and Upper Plains states drink the most, while those living in the Deep South and Mid-Atlantic, except for Washington D.C., drink the least, according to the Beer Institute. The trade group says the state with the heaviest alcohol consumption per person is New Hampshire—residents there drink more than double the national average. Spirits are most popular in the Southwest, Southern California and the East Coast, the article notes.

Americans are drinking more wine, the Beer Institute says—an average of 2.3 gallons apiece in 2010, up 35 percent since 1994. In the same period, spirit consumption rose 18 percent, to 1.5 gallons per person, while beer drinking dropped 7 percent, to 20.7 gallons per person.

Cocktails, which became more popular because of “Sex and the City,” are again trendy because of “Mad Men,” the article notes.

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